Pathways in Construction: Masonry

Building Skills New York has published a series of blog posts highlighting Pathways in Construction – different career opportunities that can be pursued to advance your career, skillset and earning potential. So far, we have touched on electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and sprinkler fitting. This week, we’re focusing on masonry.

What do masons do?

Masons are responsible for building the foundation and walls of buildings – typically working with brick, block, and/or stone. This requires cutting and shaping materials and organizing to ensure a sturdy foundation and support system within each project. A mason must know the fundamentals of wall construction, mixing mortar, and how to work with a variety of materials such as brick, cinderblock, cement, and concrete.

Masonry is classified by the type of material used. For instance, brick masons will use various types of bricks to form their structure, such as sun-dried, burnt clay, fly ash, concrete, sand-line, and engineering. Stonemasons will use ashlar and stone formations to fix or detail a building, and concrete block masons deploy large blocks of ordinary concrete.

Masons need a range of tools to properly form foundational support, including but not limited to:

  • Hammer
  • Trowel
  • Hand saw/ power saw
  • Measuring equipment
  • Mixing equipment
  • Chisel
  • Brushes (for excess mortar)

What are the qualifications to be a mason?

Masons typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and complete an apprenticeship program to gain on-the-job experience. Currently New York offers a state Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program and a NCCER Masonry Certification program. In addition to the required 40 hours of Site Safety certification, a 4-hour scaffold license will be required (at minimum).

What are the job benefits of masonry?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, masons can expect to earn a median income of $47,710 a year and $22.94 per hour. Across the construction industry, workers increasingly in demand, particularly with federal funds on tap for infrastructure projects, so that salary range may differ, depending on the need and the jobsite. Masonry is a good option for any individual interested in geometry and spatial calculations. It requires measuring with precision and keen spatial awareness, and so an aptitude for mathematics is a plus.

For more information on a career in masonry or to learn more about how to get started in construction in general, please visit: