Every project starts with an examination of the plans and technical specifications with the architect or engineer in charge to see what has to be done, followed by material selection and work site preparation. Masons use an assortment of tools such as trowels to spread mortar, plumb lines and squares to check angles and alignment, and power saws, hammers and chisels to shape materials. These tools are used to build walls, floors, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys and other structures made of brick, pre-cast masonry panels, concrete blocks and other masonry materials. Masons must understand the effects that air, moisture and pressure can have on these structures in order to meet construction safety standards.

Masons often work for construction companies or are self-employed as sub-contractors, involved on a project-by-project basis. Working either structurally or decoratively, they may renovate commercial and residential structures or be employed in the construction of new buildings. Masons routinely work in concert with architects and engineers to coordinate activities on large construction sites. The use of heavy tools and materials is common, as is working outdoors, sometimes in all kinds of weather. Typical working conditions also include standing, kneeling, and bending for long periods, in both small enclosed spaces and large open areas, or even at the top of skyscrapers.

Traits and Talents

As a mason, you should be physically fit, enjoy working outdoors, work well with your hands and have a good eye for precision. You will be expected to work quickly and precisely according to a prearranged schedule, to accurately follow blueprints, and to be flexible enough to adapt to various materials, techniques and conditions. As there is minimal supervision on most job sites, motivation, dependability and the ability to take initiative are all important characteristics of masons. You also need good interpersonal communication skills to interact with clients, foremen and co-workers, and an appreciation of architecture, design and proportion


Education and Training

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required. 
  • Completion of a three-to-four-year apprenticeship program or A combination of over four years of work experience in the trade and some high school, college or industry courses in bricklaying is usually required to be eligible for trade certification. 
  • Trade certification for bricklayers is compulsory in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec and available, but voluntary, in all other provinces and the Yukon. 
  • Trade certification for stonemasons is available, but voluntary, in Newfoundland and Labrador. 
  • Interprovincial trade certification (Red Seal) is also available to qualified bricklayers. 

The Workplace

Bricklayers perform some or all of the following duties:  

  • Read sketches and blueprints to calculate materials required; 
  • Cut and trim bricks and concrete blocks to specification using hand and power tools; 
  • Repair and lay bricks, concrete blocks, stone, structural tiles and similar materials to construct or repair walls, foundations and other structures in residential, industrial and commercial construction; 
  • Line or reline furnaces, kilns, boilers and similar installations using refractory or acid-resistant bricks, refractory concretes, plastic refractories and other materials; 
  • Construct and install prefabricated masonry units; 
  • Lay bricks or other masonry units to build patios, garden walls and other decorative installations. 

Skills for Success

The key Skills for Success for this career path are:

  • Reading
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration

Sample Job Titles

  • Apprentice Bricklayer 
  • Tile Setter 
  • Bricklayer 
  • Brick Mason 
  • Refractory Bricklayer and Repairer 
  • Stonemason 

Companies and Sectors

  • Self-employed 
  • Construction companies 
  • Landscaping companies 
  • Masonry companies