Bricklayers construct walls, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys, and other structures from brick, block, and other masonry materials such as structural tile, concrete cinder, glass, gypsum, and terra cotta. They spread a layer or “bed” of soft mortar that serves as base and binder using a trowel. The brick or block is then positioned, and the excess mortar removed. Bricklayers must understand and work from blueprints and be able to use measuring, leveling, and aligning tools to check their work.
Much of masonry work is out-of-doors and depends on suitable weather. However, modern construction methods—along with heaters and temporary enclosures—stretch the season and make bricklayers less dependent on good weather. Bricklayers are on their feet all day and do considerable lifting of heavy materials with much bending, sometimes from scaffolding high above the ground.
Aptitude and Interest
Masonry construction involves a variety of duties requiring close tolerances and standards. Bricklaying requires careful, accurate work by the craftsman. Masons should enjoy working outside under many different weather conditions. Good eyesight is important to quickly determine lines and levels. Manual dexterity is especially important.
To become a skilled bricklayer, training is essential. It can be acquired informally through “learning-by-working,” company on-the-job training programs, trade or vocational/technical schools, unilaterally (management or labor) sponsored trainee programs, registered labor-management apprenticeship programs, or a combination of the above. It is generally accepted that the more formalized training programs give more comprehensive skill training. Recommended high school courses include algebra, geometry, general science, mechanical drawing, and English.