Masons are expert builders who use bricks, stones, cement, and other materials to create new structures. They build homes, walkways, fireplaces, walls, tunnels, and dozens of other important structural pieces. Since most professionals specialize with a certain building material or type of work, there are many different masonry jobs available. Masonry jobs can be found with construction companies, private stone and bricklaying firms, and municipal government organizations. Some highly skilled masons are able to start their own businesses, contracting their services to home and business owners.
Brickmasons and blockmasons are professional builders who specialize in creating brick walls, structures, fireplaces, and other fixtures. Following detailed blueprints, they level an area, lay mortar, and begin stacking bricks. When a brick is too large or must fit into a corner, the mason will cut and shape it using a hammer, saw, chisel, and specialized finishing tools. Many professionals also offer repair services to existing structures, replacing worn bricks, patching holes, and filling in cracks. Stonemasons perform many of the same types of jobs as brickmasons, though they use stones as their medium.
Some masonry jobs are held by cement layers who mix, pour, form, smooth, and color concrete. A cement mason may specialize in creating decorative pieces or sculptures, or he or she work with a team of other professionals to build large foundations, sidewalks, and walls. Expert stucco masons apply the finishing touches to interior and exterior walls and other structures. They usually apply several coats of stucco or plaster to a surface, then carefully even it out to create an attractive design.
In order to obtain most masonry jobs, individuals are usually required to hold high school diplomas at minimum, and spend several years in training. New workers typically begin their masonry jobs as assistants or apprentices to established masons, gaining firsthand experience with the trade and learning about various tools, procedures, and policies for at least three years. Many individuals supplement their on-the-job training with classroom studies at a vocational school or union-sponsored training facility, where they learn about the fundamentals of the job, safety measures, and how to read blueprints. Some unions, employers, and locations offer specialized certification to individuals who complete training, which improves their credentials and provides them with more employment opportunities.
There is typically ample room for advancement once a worker has completed his or her apprenticeship and become established in the masonry trade. A skilled individual may be able to become a site supervisor, where he or she organizes projects, leads a team of builders, monitors progress, and makes important decisions. An experienced, well-known mason is often successful in opening his or her own contracting business, hiring workers, finding clients, and managing all other aspects of running a business.