|Number of Jobs:||36,100|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Construction Jobs||#7|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#90|
Brickmasons and blockmasons use bricks and structural stone blocks to build and finish 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," says Al Herndon, who oversees masonry training in Florida for the Florida Masonry Apprentice and Education Foundation. "Blockmasons do the structural work." Brickmasons do predominantly residential work and blockmasons tend to do more commercial work. But the distinctions between their crafts has blurred on commercial jobs. "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, and "we find that our female masons tend to become very proficient in detail work."
Residential work tends to involve shorter jobs except on large housing projects. Large commercial projects may take up to two or more years to complete. Blockmasons, who often assemble key internal support structures for buildings, encounter more workplace regulations from Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as extensive instructions from project architects and engineers. Masons often work for union and non-union contractors during their careers. They can work in local markets but also may travel to find work, especially when local work is scarce. "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 materials—brick, block, stone, glass, and synthetics.
Demand for masonry work is directly tied to economic activity, and is looking up as the residential real estate and office markets slowly recover. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts employment growth of about 40.5 percent between 2010 and 2020. That's 36,100 new jobs and 18,300 replacement jobs. There were 62,560 brickmasons and blockmasons in 2011; this excludes self-employed contractors, who accounted for 28.6 percent of all brickmasons and blockmasons in 2010.
According to the BLS, brickmasons and blockmasons earned a median wage of $46,800 in 2011, or $22.50 per hour. The best-paid earned a median wage of $80,570, while the lowest-paid earned less than $28,950 in 2011. Apprentice masons earn roughly half of journeymen wages. 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 building finishing contractors, nonresidential building construction, and local government. Large metro areas tend to have the most jobs and highest salaries, with concentrations in older industrial markets and the Rocky Mountain states.
Brickmasons and stonemasons can learn on the job as well as from one-year or two-year training programs at technical colleges. Many also complete extensive apprenticeship programs. The programs are free to apprentices and funded by employers and unions. They usually last three or four years and require at least 144 hours of classroom training each year and 2,000 hours of on-the-job experience. "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.
High school training programs increasingly are a conduit for getting into masonry craft jobs. So are apprenticeship programs. Having a friend or relative in the construction trades industry is also a common way new entrants learn of job opportunities and apply for work. Military veterans receive preferred access to employment opportunities. "We also live in the real world," Herndon says, and he operates masonry training programs at eight Florida prisons, helping inmates qualify for jobs upon their release.
|Stress Level||Above Average|