Get in the Trade

Become a Bricklayer

Fancy a really hands on job and a career in Bricklaying
– check out our advice on how to become a brick layer. Bricklayers build and repair walls, chimney stacks, tunnel linings and decorative stonework like archways. A bricklayers jobs can range from a house extension to a large commercial development. They also refurbish brickwork and masonry on restoration projects.

Typical bricklayer tasks

  • measuring work area and setting out the first rows (courses) and damp course, following the architect’s or designer’s plans
  • mixing mortar by hand or with a mechanical mixer
  • working from the corners inwards, building up the courses, 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 courses are straight with water or laser spirit-levels and plumb lines.

As the walls go up, bricklayers or scaffolders put up platforms to reach the higher storeys. Joiners usually follow closely behind fitting door and window frames in line with the design blueprints.
So to be a bricklayer, here are some skills needed:

  • good practical skills
  • ability to read technical drawings and plans
  • ability to methodically and accurately
  • awareness of safety issues, especially when working at heights
  • ability to work as part of a team within the gang and with other tradespeople
  • a good level of fitness.

Bricklayer hours and environment

Bricklayers normally work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday, although overtime at weekends and evenings is common to meet deadlines. You work outside in most weather conditions, and spend much of the time standing or kneeling while laying bricks, and carrying heavy loads. The work can be noisy, dirty and wet, and includes working from scaffolding – it’s a hard grafting job.
Also at times when there is less construction in the UK, you need to be prepared to travel from site to site and you may have to work away from home for periods of time.

Bricklayer qualifications

You do not need any formal qualifications to become a bricklayer, but employers tend to want people with some on-site experience. If you have not worked in construction before, try to get some on-site experience working as a labourer.
A good route to become a brick layer is an apprenticeship scheme with a building firm. Funding for apprenticeships is available for 16-24 year olds and some over-25s. You can also take college courses in bricklaying, which are open to all age groups. These can teach you some of the skills needed for the job but employers may still want to see some site experience.
Bricklaying courses include:

  • Edexcel First Diploma in Construction (bricklaying options)
  • City & Guilds Basic Skills in Construction award: Bricklaying (6211)
  • Intermediate/Advanced Construction Award (Trowel Occupations – Bricklaying)

NVQ/SVQ in Trowel Occupations levels 1 to 3, contains units covering:

  • setting out work areas
  • preparing mortars
  • laying bricks and blocks
  • building masonry structures.

Bricklayers work for building contractors and local authorities, but many are self-employed and work on a sub-contract basis for companies as ‘labour only’, with the building contractor supplying the materials. With experience, you can progress to supervisory jobs, for example site supervisor and clerk of works, or related areas, such as estimating and construction management. You also have the option to work as a bricklaying instructor at a training centre or college.

Bricklayer salary

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

  • 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

Becoming a bricklayer will give you some funademental skills for working in the building industry where you will have a key skill always needed in any construction project.

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