Bricklayers are highly skilled people and it’s because of this much needed skill that they are in such high demand.
Bricklayers repair and build walls, decorative stonework and also tunnel linings. Bricklayers are also required for refurbishing brickwork and also masonry on restoration projects. So as you can see it’s a skill that is highly rewarding and satisfying knowing that you have carried out a job that’s been done well and looks really good. It’s the perfect job for you if you love carrying out practical tasks and are interested in the construction industry.
Bricklayers must be able to understand and read plans and another must for a bricklayer is that you must carry out your work in a well managed and organised way.
You don’t require any formal qualifications to become a bricklayer but an employer does look out for people who already have some on site experience, also there are some building companies who require you to have GCSEs in certain subjects for example English and Maths. Not all companies but just have in mind that some do look out for this.
What does a bricklayer do?
A bricklayer’s working day can consist of many tasks including:
- Measuring the work area
- Setting out the first row of bricks (courses)
- Setting the damp course
- Mixing of the mortar by hand or using a mechanical mixer
- Laying if the bricks on top of each other
- Applying mortar with a trowel
- Carry out the shaping and trimming of bricks by either using power tools, chisels or a hammer
- Checking that your courses (bricks) are straight by either using a plumb line or a laser spirit level
Bricklayers can also specialise in stonemasonry and on big jobs what’s known as your “gang” can work on one particular section of for example a building alongside another “gang” of bricklayers.
The hours a bricklayer works
A bricklayer would usually work 39 hours a week and that’s Mondays to Fridays, there is usually the option of overtime at weekends and also in the evenings.
Bricklayers carry out most of their work outside in nearly all weathers and as you can imagine the job can sometimes be physically difficult. A bricklayer may sometimes have to work at height too for example up scaffolding. A bricklayer must wear protective equipment and these include boots and helmets.
Some jobs a bricklayers takes on may involve working away from home and they would have to travel from one site to another.
A bricklayer’s income
If you’re a labourer for a bricklayer then you can expect to earn up to 15,000 a year. Qualified bricklayers can earn between £16,000 and £23,000 a year. The more experienced bricklayer can earn up to £30,000 a year and they include instructors.
There will be the option of overtime and also different allowances that will also add to your income.
Don’t forget that if you become a self employed bricklayer then you can set your own rates for different jobs and you choose your days, weeks off and the holiday times you like.
What do I need to become a bricklayer?
Like I mentioned earlier you don’t need any formal qualifications to become a bricklayer but most employers would be looking for someone who already has some experience of working on site. If you haven’t got any previous experience then you could try and get a job as a labourer in order to get some experience, then once you begin your work your employer can offer you training in your chosen trade as a bricklayer.
Another way of getting on site experience is via a bricklaying apprenticeship scheme, this is ideal if you’re between the ages of 16 and 24 but if you’re over these ages you may struggle as competition is fierce and there are only a certain amount of spaces given over to apprenticeships each year.
You also have the option of taking a college course, this course will provide you with all the knowledge you’ll be required to understand, but you will still have to find a way of getting on site experience.
Courses will include:
- 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
Further development and training for bricklayers
Once you begin your work as a bricklayer you can try and broaden your portfolio by taking on further training. You could gain qualifications like:
· Level 2/3 Diploma in Trowel Occupations
· Level 3 Diploma in bricklaying
There are several units in these qualifications and they include:
- Preparing mortar
- How to set out your work area
- Decorative brickwork
- Laying blocks and bricks
- Building masonry structures
- Applying good working practices
Construction skills certification scheme (CSCS)
The majority of building contractors will require you to have a CSCS card before you are allowed to carry out work on a construction site. This CSCS card is your proof that you are qualified and have the necessary skills to carry out a job well done.
To get this CSCS card you must:
- Pass the CITB health, safety and environment test
- Be able to prove that you have occupational competence. Your qualifications will be able to prove this.
If you are a bricklayer but don’t have any qualification then you could use the onsite assessment workshop or the experienced worker practical assessment schemes in order to gain some qualifications and also apply for the CSCS card.
Traditional building skills bursary scheme
The aim of this scheme is to get more people working in the traditional crafts and built heritage sector. Currently there is a shortage and more people must be trained up to enter into this sector. The scheme offers bursaries and organises work based training placements for people who like to work in this sector.
For more info about the scheme and your suitability visit the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme Website.
So to sum up, as a bricklayer you will need to have:
- The ability to fully understand and read plans
- Good practical skills
- The ability to work safely and in a well organised way
- The ability to carry out jobs safely taking extra care when working at height and when carrying extra loads
- The ability to get on well with people in your team and also with construction workers and tradesmen and suppliers
- A reasonable level of fitness, bricklaying is very physically demanding
Well that’s the life of a bricklayer I hope I’ve helped you gain more info on what a bricklayer’s working life involves and how to become one. A bricklayer carries out a wide range of highly rewarding jobs that are pleasing to the eyes.
So I’ll be going now but just let me say Good Luck and hopefully one day you too will be one of the many bricklayers enjoying this highly regarded skill. All the very best!