Bricklayers and Stonemasons
Education and Training Requirements
As with many jobs, employers of bricklayers and stonemasons will often prefer that you have a high school education or at least a GED. Take as many courses as possible in shop, basic mathematics, blueprint reading, and mechanical drawing. Take college prep courses in engineering if your school offers them. It may also help you on the job if you have taken core courses like English and general science and have a driver's license.
Another piece of good advice is to join or help form a student chapter of an organization like the National Association of Home Builders. You will get benefits like issues of various journals in the building industry, low-cost admission to the International Builders' Show, and opportunities to take part in exciting activities like visiting construction sites, sponsoring restoration projects at your school, and helping repair homes for the elderly and underprivileged. Check such organizations as HBI (http://www.hbi.org), which provides pre-apprenticeship training, job placement services, mentoring, and other resources.
The best way for you to become a bricklayer or stonemason is to complete an apprenticeship. Vocational schools also provide training in these fields. However, many people learn their skills informally on the job simply by observing and helping experienced workers. The disadvantage of this approach is that informal training is likely to be less thorough, and it may take workers much longer to learn the full range of skills necessary for the trade.
Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by contractors or jointly by contractors and unions. Programs that are not sponsored by unions are also available. Applicants for apprenticeships need to be at least 18 years old and in good physical condition. As an apprentice, you would spend about three years learning as you work under the supervision of experienced bricklayers or stonemasons. In addition, you would get at least 144 hours of classroom instruction in related subjects, such as blueprint reading, applied mathematics, and layout work. In the work portion of your apprenticeship, you would begin with simple jobs, like carrying materials and building scaffolds. After becoming familiar with initial tasks, you would eventually take part in a broad range of activities. In the course of an apprenticeship, you can become qualified to work with more than one kind of masonry material.
Other Education or Training
The Associated General Contractors of America, International Masonry Institute, and Mason Contractors Association of America provide continuing education opportunities for stone workers. Contact these organizations for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
There are no certification or licensing requirements for bricklayers and stonemasons.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
To obtain experience, try to work as a helper to a bricklayer or stonemason or join a student chapter of the National Association of Home Builders.
In bricklaying and stonemasonry, you often have to carry materials and sometimes relatively heavy equipment, such as scaffold parts and rows of brick. Since you'll be mixing mortar and laying brick and stone, you must not mind getting dirty and being on your hands and knees.
You should enjoy doing demanding work and be disciplined and motivated enough to do your job without close and constant supervision. Sometimes, you might be presented with building challenges that require either mental or physical aptitude. The ability to get along with coworkers is also important as many bricklayers and masons work in teams.