A bricklayer is also known as a brickie or a stone mason. You will work in the construction industry laying bricks and doing other work to build houses.
What Does a Bricklayer Do
A bricklayer works building houses and other buildings. You can also repair walls and chimneys. Some bricklayers also have a specialism. For example, you might skilled in refurbishing decorative stonework. You might also be involved in complex restoration projects. During a normal working day, a bricklayer will be expected to:
- Measure work areas and set out the first rows of bricks or blocks.
- Mix mortar by hand or with a mechanical mixer.
- Use a trowel to lay bricks and mortar.
- Shape and trim bricks using hammers, chisels and power tools.
- Check that rows are straight using a spirit level, laser level or plumb line.
Who Employs Bricklayers
Some bricklayers are self-employed and will work directly with clients. Others are part of an employed team of bricklayers. Sometimes that team is casually employed. It is the role of the head of the team to negotiate an overall fee for a job of work. This leader then pays individual bricklayers from the total sum. Virtually every bricklayer is a private-sector employee.
Job Salary for a Bricklayer
The official UK Government statistics on the job salary for a bricklayer places the starting wage at £17,000. Further, this salary can rise to £40,000 for experienced bricklayers. Another source estimates the average bricklayer’s salary in the UK to be £50,091.09. This is based on a recorded minimum of £36,400 and a maximum salary of £59,280. Some other figures are useful to allow you to compare salaries. In the UK, the national average wage is estimated to be around £30,000 according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The current National Living Wage (which must be paid to people aged 23 and over) means the minimum untaxed income for a 40-hour week is over £21,000 per year. As with other jobs, there are significant regional differences in the salary of a bricklayer in different parts of the UK. Bricklayers in London and the South East of England are, like other professions, paid more than in other parts of the UK.
How Often is a Bricklayer Normally Paid
Bricklayers can normally expect to be paid a salary or wage either monthly or every week.
Who Negotiates a Job Salary for a Bricklayer
Salaries are agreed upon between the employer and the bricklayer. Some bricklayers are self-employed and will work directly with clients. Others are part of an employed team of bricklayers (even if that team is casually employed). In these circumstances, the head of the team negotiates an overall fee for a job of work. The team leader then pays individual bricklayers from the total sum.
What Sort of Contracts Do Bricklayers Have
Bricklayers have different sorts of contracts. You might be employed by a building company permanently. In this case, you will have a very stable contract. However, you might also be contracted for a set fee on a project-by-project basis. If this is the way you work, you will not necessarily have detailed contracts. However, if you are a freelance or self-employed bricklayer, you will use contracts for large projects. If this is not possible, you will usually at least try and create paper trails. For smaller jobs, you will probably just rely on verbal agreements. This will be around a fee and the length of time a project is likely to take.
Additional Earning Potential
As a bricklayer you can often earn extra income from overtime or taking on smaller additional building jobs and repairs. Furthermore, a lot of income made by bricklayers is cash in hand.
How to Become a Bricklayer
The three main routes to becoming a bricklayer are:
- Being hired to work on a job. Many people start as a construction site labourer with a bricklaying ‘gang’ and take training on the job to become a bricklayer and join the team permanently.
- Undertaking a bricklaying intermediate apprenticeship.
- Taking a college course.
To gain employment, regardless of their career route, bricklayers will also need to get a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent. This authorisation is done via an online test and is needed to train and work on a construction site.
Qualifications/Courses – Bricklayer
If you want to become a bricklayer, you have a lot of options. One common route into bricklaying open to you is undertaking a bricklaying intermediate apprenticeship. This will usually take 2 years to fully complete. You will achieve an apprenticeship through a mixture of on-the-job training and spending time with a college or training provider. In order to qualify for this study route, you will usually need some GCSEs. These GCSEs will usually include both English and maths for an intermediate apprenticeship. The other main route open to you as a bricklayer is becoming qualified via a college course. The four main courses available to bricklayers are:
- Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills, for which you will need 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, to enter the course.
- Level 2 Diploma in Bricklaying, which requires 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent.
- A Level 2 Diploma in Trowel Occupations also needs 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent.
- The T Level in On-Site Construction, which needs 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for enrolment.
Each one of these courses has been developed to teach the skills needed for the job. They are also all linked deliberately with employment opportunities and each one can help you to find a trainee position with a building company. It is also worth you knowing about ‘taster’ courses. Some colleges and private training organisations offer short or part-time bricklaying ‘taster’ courses. These courses are geared toward helping you try the job if you’re thinking of a career change to become a bricklayer.
The Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
All of the potential qualification routes open to you will also need you to get a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent to train and work on a construction site. You get this card-based authorisation via an online test.
General Skills Required
- Good manual skills are needed because you are working with your hands.
- Bricklayers must have the ability to be thorough. On top of this, you need to remain focused and pay attention to detail.
- You need a strong sense of timekeeping in order to complete your projects.
- A bricklayer needs the ability to work well with others.
- You must be able to work with colleagues to resolve problems which might affect a construction project.
- Good physical fitness is always needed. This is because bricklayers have to stand up for many hours and often carry heavy loads.
- You must be able to understand and comply with health and safety rules for building.
- You must be able to adopt a flexible approach. Furthermore, you will need good time management skills in order to get a project completed.
Specific Skills Required
- Knowledge of building and construction is essential for your work. On top of this, you will need a willingness to learn and improve your skills throughout your working life.
- Physical skills like strength, balance and coordination are essential.
- You should be able to do simple calculations relating to laying bricks.
- A driving licence is useful since many bricklayers need to take vans for at least part of your working day.
- You will need to wear protective clothing.
- Membership of a trade organisation like the Federation of Master Builders can also bring you recruitment opportunities. Trade organisations also offer chances for professional recognition. They might also bring training or upskilling opportunities.
Technology Skills Required
- You will need to know how to use mortar mixing machines.
- As a bricklayer, a wide variety of tools also need to be used.
Challenges of Being a Bricklayer
- Bricklayers need to work in all weather. Remember that this can be challenging in extreme weather.
- Maintaining good relationships with other team members is important for your professional life.
- You may not be able to get public transport to suit your shift times. As a result, this can be a problem if you don’t have your own transport.
- Strong timekeeping skills are needed to make sure you always fulfil your quota of building work to ensure the work does not slip behind schedule.
- You will probably need to work at heights.
Type of Person Suited for this Work
- Someone with a good level of physical fitness makes a good bricklayer.
- You will need to behave responsibly at all times.
- You always need to be a good team player. This is because bricklayers operate in teams and you rely on one another.
- A person with the ability to work on their own with little supervision makes a good bricklayer.
- Someone open to corrections and criticism is preferable. Having this sort of mindset can help you interact with customers in a personal and professional manner.
General Expected Working Hours
As a bricklayer you will normally work around 42 to 44 hours a week. You will tend to work longer hours in the summer months when the weather is warmer and drier. The usual working hours for a bricklayer can be between 6 am and 8 pm. This will change depending on the size of the job. Also, the weather conditions at that time of year will have an impact.
Location of Work
Bricklayers will work wherever your commissioned work takes you. Some of your assignments will be long, but others will be maybe a few hours or days. Your working environment will be challenging and involve work in all weathers and climates.
As an experienced bricklayer, you can be expected to earn a higher salary. Further, maybe you could end up specialising in a particular type of bricklaying like heritage work or stonemasonry. Many bricklayers aim to become self-employed and set up their own businesses. If you follow this path you will probably end up employing other bricklayers and trainees. If you stay in a larger firm, with experience it is possible to become a construction site supervisor. Further, it is also possible to move into related areas like estimating, training or teaching apprentices or students in a further education college.