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Brickmason and Blockmason

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Number of Jobs

25,200

Median Salary

$46,440

Unemployment Rate

18.8 percent

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Brickmasons and blockmasons use bricks and structural stone blocks to construct and polish residential and commercial walls, patios, decorative trim work and interior structures. The jobs require a high school education plus extensive training and on-the-job apprenticeship programs. Masons must be able to follow detailed building instructions, break or cut brick and stone to the proper sizes, mix and apply mortar and grout and assemble and finish the required structures. "Brickmasons work mainly with veneer and structural brick. Blockmasons do the structural work," says Al Herndon, northern apprenticeship representative for Florida Masonry Apprentice and Education Foundation. Brickmasons do predominantly residential work, and blockmasons tend to do more commercial work. On commercial jobs, the line between the distinct crafts of brickmasons and blockmasons has been blurred. "When you get to commercial work, brickmasons and blockmasons do the same thing," Herndon says. "It's not two crafts anymore; it's blended into one." Most masons are men, but there are women in the field, he says, adding: "We find that our female masons tend to become very proficient in detail work."

Large housing projects and commercial projects may take two or more years to complete, while residential work tends to involve shorter jobs. Blockmasons, who often assemble key internal support structures for buildings, face more workplace regulation from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, coupled with expansive instructions from project architects and engineers. In their careers, masons often work for union and nonunion contractors. They can work in local markets but may also travel to find work, especially when local work is scarce or not available. "You can go anywhere the job goes," Herndon says. "There are crews that travel and crews that work in the local area. If you're a traveling mason, you probably do make a little extra money." The most experienced masons are skilled in working with all forms of structural material, including brick, block, stone, glass and synthetics.

Population growth increases the need for more schools, hospitals, housing projects and other structures, thus raising the demand for these skilled laborers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth of about 35.5 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Salary

According to the BLS, brickmasons and blockmasons earned a median wage of $46,440 in 2012. The highest earners brought home a median wage of $77,950, while the lowest earners netted $28,980 in 2012. Apprentice masons earn roughly half of experienced workers. Commercial jobs tend to be more complex – requiring compliance with extensive government and project design and building protocols. Masons who work on commercial jobs tend to be more experienced and earn higher salaries than residential masons. Employment sectors that pay well include employment services, specialty trade contractors and nonresidential building construction. California is home to three of the best-paying metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Riverside and Salinas.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $61,910
Median $46,440
25th Percentile $36,050

Training

In addition to on-the-job training, brickmasons and blockmasons can acquire viable skills from training programs at technical colleges. Many complete rigorous apprenticeship programs that are free to apprentices (employers and unions foot the bill). They usually last three or four years and require at least 144 hours of classroom training annually and 2,000 hours of on-the-job experience. Apprenticeship experience often sets the stage for a prosperous masonry career. "Apprentices usually come to us when they’re between about 21 to 24 years of age," Herndon says. "They've been out of high school for a few years and have discovered that they need a career and not just a job. The guys who go through the apprenticeship program tend to become the foremen and the superintendents, and they tend to go on and become owners [of masonry contracting companies]."

Reviews & Advice

Along with apprenticeships, high school programs can open the door to masonry jobs. Building relationships and networking with those in construction trades can also lead to opportunities for work. Military veterans often receive preferred access to employment opportunities.

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility good Above Average
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Last updated by Evan Taylor.


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