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Outline of Job

A bricklayer will work on construction sites, building and mending walls of different varieties. Usual projects involve adding extensions to a house, repairing brickwork such as chimneys and driveway walls, and working on restoration schemes. A bricklayer would need to carry out measurements before laying down any bricks. Bricklayers will work as part of a team, and, if working on a large project, will work on one area alongside other bricklaying teams. Bricklayers may have the option to move into stonemasonry with experience.

Daily Activities

  • Carrying out measurements
  • Using a mechanical blender to mix mortar or doing so by hand
  • Using a trowel to apply mortar
  • Laying bricks
  • Using tools such as hammers and chisels to alter and refine the shape of brickwork
  • Working with other bricklayers and senior work-mates
  • Working outside
  • Making sure bricklaying alterations are made according to weather factors
  • Working on building sites
  • Working at heights

Skills Required

  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Practical thinking
  • Able to read building plans
  • Good fitness levels
  • Communicate well with other construction workers
  • Understanding of safety issues and building regulations
  • Able to work at heights
  • Methodological approach

Expected Earnings & Conditions

Typical starting salary is around £15,000 a year, with qualified bricklayers able to earn £16,000 – £23,000. Those choosing to become instructors, or who have gained enough experience, can earn up to £30,000 a year. Salaries will depend on the organisation and its location. Over-time is available to earn more money, and you will be able to negotiate earnings if you are self-employed.

Bricklayers can work up to thirty-eight hours a week or more, dependent on over-time. In some cases a deadline will need to be met, and you will have work during the evening or at weekend. Most work is done outside, with weather conditions a factor. The work requires individuals of good physical fitness, and who have no fear of heights. Safety equipment such as hard hats would be mandatory on construction sites. Some projects may cause you to be absent from home at times, and it will be necessary to travel to building sites.

Qualifications & Experience Required

Educational qualifications are not necessary to become a bricklayer, with on-site experience and a good work ethic more highly thought of. Gaining work experience as a labourer on-site would give you the chance to show your desire for the position, and may see your employer keep you on as a bricklayer. The Apprenticeships Schemes currently being run in the UK would be a good way to acquire on-site experience, but availability of places will vary according to location.

To get on the Apprenticeships Schemes you will typically require GCSEs in areas such as technology, or other educational qualifications like the BTEC (Business & Technology Educational Council) Introductory Certificate in Construction. College qualifications in bricklaying and related areas would also be beneficial. Females wishing to gain employment in this role should see the Know Your Place website, a scheme to promote this career choice for women.

Additional Training & Development

Bricklayers will typically start out in a labourer position, and then be taken on as a permanent bricklayer. You can then work to become an experienced bricklayer, and possibly be able to become an instructor, or move into other areas such as stonemasonry. Further training can be done through an NVQ, such as Trowel Occupations, level one to three. You should see the CSCS (Construction Skills Certificate Scheme) website for more information on other qualifications you can acquire while working on-site.

Most bricklayer employers now require them to have a CSCS card to work. This is to show you have the necessary skills and are of good health. To attain one you will have a health check, and need to attain qualifications such as an NVQ. Those without qualifications may be able to use the OSAT (On-Site Assessment & Training) or EWPA (Experienced Worker Practical Assessment) procedures to acquire the card. Contact the CSCS for further details.

The Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme is also available to improve trade numbers in traditional crafts. This is to keep traditional trades active, by way of making available bursaries for suitable applicants.