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Brick masonry is both rigorous and rewarding. While the day-to-day work is demanding, a career as a brick mason is one that allows you to view your accomplishments with pride when you drive past a building or home your team helped construct.Job Duties
Brick masons can be involved in all phases of the construction of a building or home. They may lay the concrete block for the foundation or shell, or they may be involved in the exterior veneer. Commercial buildings often use decorative block or brick as a veneer, and residential projects might involve installing brick or stone. Brick masons may be involved in the interior of the structure as well, for example installing glass block in a bathroom or a brick fireplace.
Installing masonry requires skill, and masonry supervisors have a lot of experience. Before a single brick or block is installed, the entire project must be planned out so that the end product is attractive, door and window openings work out correctly, and the masonry is structurally sound. They may be involved in landscaping projects such as building walls, patios, and barbecue areas. Brick masons usually work as a part of a team that is sized according to the scope of the project, but some may work alone on smaller projects.Job Skills
Brick masons need to enjoy working with their hands and can't be afraid of getting dirty. Brick masons often have helpers for the heavy lifting, but the work can still be very strenuous, especially when laying block. If you want to be a brick mason, you should be able to work on a platform at considerable heights, but you may also work on a foundation in an excavation below ground level. Additionally, it would behoove prospective brick masons to enjoy working outside and working as a part of a teamIncome
The income of brick masons can vary depending on experience and training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2008 the median yearly salary for brick masons was $45,630, and the top ten percent made in excess of $74,110. Brick masons normally work a 40 hour work week, although some commercial projects may require overtime. Many brick masons who work in metropolitan areas are members of a union.Training and Education
Brick masons can get their start in the profession through several career paths. Some brick masons start on the job site as laborers, assisting masons with mixing and carrying mortar, distributing brick and block, and erecting scaffolding. They start working along with a mason, learning the trade. Other brick masons attend vocational or technical schools to learn the trade, and they may take classes such as blueprint reading and math.
Another route that some brick masons take is to become part of an apprenticeship program which may be sponsored by a union or local trade association. An apprenticeship program can involve on-the-job training combined with classroom study. Regardless of the path a brick mason chooses, it can take three to four years before you are considered a full-fledged brick mason.Employment
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2008 there were 106,200 brick masons employed in the United States. About 27 percent of those individuals were self-employed contractors working primarily on smaller projects. The majority of the rest worked for building contractors.Job Outlook
The career field for brick masons is projected to grow about 12 percent between 2008 and 2018. This is considered to be about average growth. Many brick masons currently working are expected to retire within the next ten years, which should create employment opportunities for new brick masons. Our country's increasing population should also cause a need for additional homes and commercial buildings to be built, or additions to current structures to be constructed.