Some brickmasons learn the job by doing it, but most complete a 3 to 4-year apprenticeship under an experienced mason. To enter an apprenticeship program, a candidate must:
Be a minimum of 18 years old
Physically able to do the work
Have a high school diploma or equivalent
To complete the program, apprentice masons must complete a minimum of 144 hours of masonry instruction and 2,000 paid hours of training and employment each year. Through the classroom and on-the-job training, brickmasons learn to read blueprints, study and learn to adhere to building code requirements, complete several mathematics courses, and learn about job safety and first-aid practices. Once the apprenticeship program is completed, the apprentice is considered a journeyman and can work without the oversight of a mason.
Brickmason candidates can often find programs at local technical colleges for brick masonry. These courses can be taken independently or as part of a student's apprenticeship program. The credits will usually apply toward an associate degree in construction. For high school students with an interest in becoming brickmasons, classes in mechanical drawing, math, shop and English are suggested. Other important skills brickmasons use include:
Creativity - Brickmasons have to create structures that are both functional and pleasing to the eye.
Dexterity - a brickmason must be able to apply mortar in a smooth and even layer, and set bricks in the same fashion, and remove the excess mortar before the mortar sets.
Math skills - Brickmasons must calculate the number of bricks needed, the amount or mortar required, read accurate measurements and calculate angles for corners.
Physicality - Brickmasons have to be strong enough to lift heavy tools, bags of mortar, equipment and stones that can weigh 40 pounds or more.
Stamina - Brickmasons must work steadily throughout the day for the structure to be completed successfully and on time.