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Stonemason

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

Stonemason

The Work

As a stonemason you would use your skills to carve blocks of stone, or lay and fit stonework into place on construction projects.

You would normally work as either a banker mason in a workshop, or a fixer mason on site. The skills needed for each overlap, but the focus of your job would be slightly different:

  • as a banker mason you would follow design instructions to carve and shape stone, and give it a textured or polished finish (known as dressing) using hand and power tools
  • as a fixer, you would build stone walls or fit cladding, using mortar and specialist fixings; you might also repair damaged stonework.

In either specialism you could work on a range of projects, such as:

  • repairing old buildings and monuments
  • carving or repairing statues or memorial headstones
  • making and fitting stonework like window frames, archways and ornamental garden pieces.

Due to the variety of the job, you would work with a number of different materials, including sandstone, limestone, slate, marble and granite.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work 39 hours a week, with occasional overtime to meet deadlines.

As a banker mason, you would usually be based in a workshop, which could get noisy and dusty. You would use protective equipment, such as safety boots, ear defenders and goggles. As a fixer mason, you would be outdoors in all weather conditions on building sites, sometimes working at heights on scaffolding.

In both cases, the work can be physically demanding as you would be lifting and carrying heavy materials and equipment.

Skills and Interests


  • the ability to follow architectural plans and drawings
  • a careful approach to work and attention to detail
  • good maths skills for measuring areas accurately
  • good coordination and practical skills for using tools
  • creative skills for decorative aspects of the work
  • a good head for heights if intending to work as a fixer mason
  • an awareness of health and safety
  • the ability to work well as part of a team and on your own
  • a high level of fitness.

Entry

You do not need any specific qualifications to become a stonemason, but employers usually look for people with some on-site experience. If you have not worked in construction before, you could look for work as a labourer to gain some experience. Once working, your employer may be willing to offer you training in stonemasonry (see the training and development section below).

You may be able to get into this career by completing an Apprenticeship with a building or stonemasonry firm. To get on to a scheme, you will need GCSEs (grades A-C) in subjects like maths, English and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications like the BTEC Introductory Certificate/Diploma in Construction.

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/.

Alternatively, you could take a college course, such as the Intermediate or Advanced Construction Award (Stonemasonry). This would teach you some of the skills needed, although employers may still want to see some site experience. Contact your local college to find out what courses are available.

The Cotac website lists courses at all levels and  you can also search for courses on the National Heritage Training Group website.

You may need a driving licence,  particularly as a fixer mason, as you will need to travel from job to job.

See the ConstructionSkills website and the Stone Federation website for more career information. The Know Your Place campaign aims to promote the construction industry as a career choice for women.

Training

Your employer may encourage you to work towards the NVQ in Stonemasonry at levels 1 to 3. If you work on historical buildings and have the right level of experience, you may be encouraged to complete NVQ in Heritage Skills at Level 3.

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

Most openings are with stonemasonry firms, construction companies and building conservation trusts, with a smaller number of opportunities in memorial carving. If you work for a small company, you could be expected to cover both banker and fixing duties.

With experience, you could progress to supervisory jobs like site supervisor or clerk of works, or related areas, such as estimating and construction management. With further training, you could work as a stonemason or bricklaying instructor at a college or training centre. Another option would be to set up your own stonemasonry business.

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

National Heritage Training Group (NHTG)
Construction Jobs Network

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

Annual Income


  • Starting salaries can be between 15,000 and 18,000 a year.
  • Experienced stonemasons can earn between 20,000 and 33,000 a year.

Overtime and various allowances can significantly increase income. Self-employed stonemasons set 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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