How to Become a Mason
Updated August 29, 2022 • 6 min read
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How to Become a Mason
Masonry professionals can complete hands-on work with minimal formal education. Positions in the field require only a high school education and an apprenticeship. Although not required, some masons pursue certification or a certificate from a mason school. Apprenticeships and education help masons fine-tune their blueprint-reading and math skills. Mason school attendees learn to work with strong materials. Many masons begin their careers as construction assistants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), masonry workers earn a median salary of $47,710 per year. These professionals sometimes work as general contractors or become construction managers. Some masons benefit from joining a union. This guide covers how to become a mason and explores common mason jobs.
Questions About Becoming a Masonry Worker
What does a masonry worker do?
These professionals build structures from strong materials such as brick, stone, and concrete. They create walls and lay the foundations for homes.
What are the types of masonry?
Common masonry materials include stone, brick, and concrete. Some masons work on veneer masonry, which serves only aesthetic purposes. Solid masonry refers to mason work that primarily serves a structural purpose.
How long does it take to become a mason?
Most masons spend 2-4 years earning a certificate or completing an apprenticeship. Some masons work as assistants for a few years before starting their own practice.
Do masonry workers make good money?
Masons' salary varies. According to March 2022 Payscale data, masons earn an average annual salary of $50,840.
What Do Masonry Workers Do?
Masonry workers analyze blueprints and estimate the scope of projects. They calculate the amount of materials needed and identify potential building code issues. These contractors work on interior, exterior, and landscaping fixtures. They construct structural and aesthetic fixtures using strong materials. Many masons specialize in working with one material, such as brick or stone. Other masons mainly lay the foundations for homes.
Masons spend the majority of their time working on jobsites. Mason jobs require the ability to work at high heights and lift about 50 pounds. Masonry workers implement plans with precision. Experienced masons often become independent contractors. Advanced professionals may manage teams and design mason plans. Some work as general contractors for large-scale jobs, which requires administrative and communication skills.
Masonry workers must communicate effectively with architects and general contractors. They sometimes work alongside landscaping professionals.
Career and Salary Outlook for Masonry Workers
The BLS projects employment for masonry professionals to decrease by 2% from 2020-2030. However, attending mason school can lead to other promising entry-level roles. For example, the BLS projects construction and extraction occupations to grow 6% during the same time frame. Workers in this industry earn a median salary of $48,610 per year.
Masons' earning potential depends on their specialty. For example, brickmasons and block masons earn a median salary of $55,080 per year. Cement masons and concrete finishers earn a median salary of $46,000, while stonemasons earn a median of $43,650 annually.
How to Get Hired as a Masonry Worker
Masonry workers need at least a high school diploma to begin mason school or an apprenticeship. Aspiring masons complete 2-4 years of education or on-the-job training before pursuing unsupervised positions.
Applicants to masonry jobs should create a resume listing their education and relevant work experience. Job candidates can provide references and photos of previous work. Before applying for jobs, applicants should set their social media to private or ensure their posts meet work-appropriate standards.
Self-employed masons often secure jobs through word-of-mouth referrals. Many contract masons invest in marketing efforts to gain clients. They may create a website and social media business page.
To become more competitive for advanced positions, masonry workers may earn certification. Certification demonstrates industry expertise.
What Are the Education Requirements for a Masonry Worker?
Individuals take different paths to become a mason. Some masons begin working immediately after earning a high school diploma. Others pursue a masonry certificate program. This guide outlines the general steps for securing mason jobs, including requirements and ways to improve credibility.
Earn a High School Diploma or Equivalent
Most mason contracting companies and clients prefer to hire masonry workers with a high school degree or the equivalent. Individuals who did not complete high school can take the GED exams to demonstrate that they possess the same knowledge as someone with a high school diploma.
Complete an Apprenticeship or On-the-Job Training
After receiving a high school diploma, aspiring masons gain hands-on experience by attending mason school at a community or technical college. These programs usually require 1-2 years and include classroom learning and field practice.
Aspiring masons may also apprentice under certified masons. Apprentices typically earn an hourly wage. Apprentices observe experienced masons and complete basic, supervised work. They apply feedback and practice calculating material needs. According to the BLS, formal apprenticeships typically take about four years to complete but can last 1-6 years.
Earn Masonry Certification
Many clients choose a masonry contractor or company based on the competitiveness of their bid. However, businesses hiring contractors for large, high-paying projects often prefer candidates with additional qualifications, such as certification.
Individuals often pursue certifications near the end of their masonry apprenticeship. Multiple organizations offer masonry certifications. For example, the American Concrete Institute administers the masonry field testing technician certification, which demonstrates knowledge of how to test masonry materials' integrity.
The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) delivers a certification focused on general masonry practice. Candidates for the MCAA's certification must pass a test on ethics, bidding practices, and masonry products.
Masons who plan to pursue certification should study and complete required courses. The MCAA provides a list of approved exam-preparation courses. Many of these courses fulfill continuing education requirements for certification renewal.
Upon registering for the MCAA certification exam, applicants receive access to a portal that tracks required credits and progress. Candidates pay a fee after receiving approval to sit for the exam. Masons earning certification on behalf of a business may request reimbursement from their employer. The exam costs $600 for MCAA members and $850 for nonmembers. Certificate-holders pay a $500 renewal fee every three years.
The open-book certification test includes 100 multiple-choice questions. The test covers six masonry topics, including safety, quality assurance, and building codes. The MCAA provides a list of materials test-takers should bring and encourages applicants to take detailed notes during required courses. Candidates can use their notes during the test.
The MCAA's certification primarily benefits masonry supervisors. Other professionals with management-level mason jobs, such as foremen and project managers, can benefit from the credential.
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