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Bricklayer

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Bricklayer

The Work

Bricklayers build and repair walls, chimney stacks, tunnel linings and decorative stonework like archways. They might also refurbish brickwork and masonry on restoration projects. Typical jobs can range from a house extension to a large commercial development.

As a bricklayer, your work would include:

  • measuring the work area and setting out the first rows (courses) and damp course
  • mixing mortar by hand or with a mechanical mixer
  • laying the bricks on top of each other and applying the mortar with a trowel
  • shaping and trimming bricks using hammers, chisels and power tools
  • checking courses are straight using water or laser spirit-levels and plumb lines.

On larger jobs, your gang would work on a particular section of a building alongside other bricklaying gangs. You may also be able to specialise in stonemasonry work. See the profile for Stonemason for more information about this role.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work around 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday, although overtime at weekends and evenings may be necessary.

You would spend much of your time outside in most weather conditions, and the work would be physically demanding. You could work at heights on scaffolding, and you would be expected to use protective equipment, such as safety helmets and boots.

You would travel from site to site, and some contracts may involve overnight stays away from home.

Skills and Interests


  • good practical skills
  • the ability to read plans
  • the ability to work methodically and accurately
  • an awareness of safety issues, especially when working at heights and carrying loads
  • the ability to work as part of a team and with other tradespeople
  • a good level of fitness.

Entry

You do not need formal qualifications to become a bricklayer, but employers tend to want people with some on-site experience. If you have not worked in construction before, you could think about finding a job as a labourer to get site experience. Once working, your employer may be willing to offer you training in bricklaying.

You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme with a building firm. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/.

To get on to an Apprenticeship, you may need GCSEs in subjects such as maths, English and design and technology, or vocational qualifications such as the BTEC Introductory Certificate or Diploma in Construction.

Alternatively, you could take a college course in bricklaying. This would teach you some of the skills needed for the job but employers may still want to see some site experience.

Relevant courses include:

  • BTEC First Diploma in Construction (bricklaying options)
  • City & Guilds Certificate in Basic Construction Skills: Bricklaying
  • CSkills Intermediate/Advanced Construction Award (Trowel Occupations Bricklaying).

For more information about bricklaying qualifications, contact ConstructionSkills and your local college. ConstructionSkills also has general information on careers and qualifications in building.

The Know Your Place campaign aims to promote the construction trades as a career choice for women.

Training

Once you are working, you could take the NVQ in Trowel Occupations levels 1 to 3. The NVQ contains units in:

  • setting out work areas
  • preparing mortars
  • laying bricks and blocks
  • building masonry structures.

Contact ConstructionSkills for more information about work-based qualifications and details of training providers.

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Many building contractors now insist that you have a CSCS card to work on their sites. The card is proof of your skills and competence. To get your card you must:

  • pass a health and safety assessment
  • have an NVQ or equivalent qualification.

If you are working without qualifications, you may be able to use On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT) or Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) to get your NVQ and card. Contact CSCS or SkillsDirect for further details.

Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme
The Traditional Building Skills Bursary scheme aims to address skills shortages within the traditional crafts and built heritage sector, by offering bursaries and organising work-based training placements for eligible applicants.

To find out more about the scheme, eligibility and what placements are available, visit the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme website.

Opportunities

You could find work with building contractors and local authorities. You could also set up your own business, sub-contracting your labour, with the building contractor supplying the materials.

With experience, you could progress to site supervisor and clerk of works jobs, or related areas, such as estimating and construction management. With further training, you could work as a bricklaying instructor at a training centre or college.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading: (links open in new window)

bConstructive
Construction Jobs Network
Directgov (Jobseekers page)

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income


  • A bricklaying labourer can earn up to 15,000 a year.
  • Qualified bricklayers can earn between 16,000 and 23,000 a year.
  • Experienced bricklayers, including instructors, can earn up to 30,000 a year.

Overtime and various allowances can significantly increase income. Self-employed bricklayers negotiate their own pay rates.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.
 
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