39 per week
£16,000 + per year
Bricklayers build and repair walls, chimney stacks, tunnel linings and decorative stonework. They might also refurbish brickwork and masonry on restoration projects. If you enjoy doing practical things and you are interested in construction, this could be the perfect job for you.
To become a bricklayer, you will need to be able to read plans. You’ll also need to be able to work in a well organised way.
You may not need formal qualifications to become a bricklayer, but employers usually want people who have some on-site experience. Some building companies may want you to have GCSEs in subjects like maths and English.
As a bricklayer, your work would include:
- measuring the work area and setting out the first rows of bricks (courses) and the 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 that courses are straight using water or laser spirit levels and plumb lines.
On larger jobs, your group (gang) would work on a particular section of a building alongside other bricklaying gangs. You may also be able to specialise in stonemasonry work.
Working hours and conditions
You would normally work about 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may sometimes need to do overtime at weekends and in the evenings.
You would spend a lot of your time outside in most weathers, and the work can be physically hard. Your job may involve working 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. Some jobs may involve overnight stays away from home.
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 add to your income.
Self-employed bricklayers set their own pay rates.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You do not need formal qualifications to become a bricklayer, but employers usually want people who have some on-site experience. If you have not worked in construction before, you could find a job as a labourer to get site experience. Once you are 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 company. You will need to check which schemes are available in your area and what the requirements are. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Another option is to take a college course in bricklaying. This would teach you some of the skills needed for the job, but employers may still want you to have some site experience.
- Level 1 Award/Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (Bricklaying)
- Level 1 Certificate in Construction Crafts (Bricklaying)
- Level 1 Certificate in Construction and Building (Brickwork Skills)
- Level 2 Diploma in Bricklaying.
For more information about careers and qualifications in the construction industry, see the bConstructive website.
Training and development
Once you are working, you could take further training. Qualifications include:
- Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma In Trowel Occupations
- Level 3 Diploma in Bricklaying.
These qualifications include several units, such as:
- setting out work areas
- preparing mortars
- laying bricks and blocks
- decorative brickwork
- safe working practices
- building masonry structures.
Contact CITB or see their website for more information about work-based qualifications, and for details of training providers.
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Many building contractors will want you to have a CSCS card before you can work on their sites. The card is proof of your skills and ability to carry out the job safely. To get your card, you must:
- pass the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test
- prove your occupational competence (by holding appropriate qualifications).
If you are working without qualifications, you may be able to use the On-site Assessment Workshop or Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) schemes to gain a qualification and qualify for a CSCS card. See the Assessment Workshop and EWPA websites and contact CSCS in the More information section for details.
Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme
The aim of the Traditional Building Skills Bursary scheme is to reduce the shortage of skills in the traditional crafts and built heritage sector. It is doing this by offering bursaries and organising work-based training placements for suitable applicants.
To find out more about the scheme, suitability and available placements, visit the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme website.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a bricklayer, you will need to have:
- good practical skills
- the ability to read plans
- the ability to work in a well organised and accurate way
- 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.
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Tel: 0344 994 4777
National Heritage Training Group
The Heritage Crafts Association
You could find work with building contractors and local authorities.
You could also set up your own business. You could work as a sub-contractor for a building company or contractor, who would supply the materials.
With experience, you could progress to site supervisor and clerk of works, or move into related areas like 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 vacancies and general reading:
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