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How to become a Bricklayer

bricklayer careers

What does a Bricklayer do?

Bricklayers build and maintain a range of structures including internal and external walls on new houses and commercial projects, chimney stacks, tunnel linings and decorative work such as archways and garden walls. They also deal with the repair and refurbishment of existing brickwork or masonry.

For bricklaying they use a variety of hand and power tools and various materials such as bricks, blocks, lintels, stone and mortar. A typical new-build housing job will include the following tasks:

  • measuring the area and setting out first courses (rows) and damp course, following architects' or designers' plans
  • mixing mortar by hand or with mechanical mixers
  • working from the corners, building up the courses using bricks and mortar (for efficiency, bricklaying teams or 'gangs' often employ a labourer to keep them constantly supplied with bricks and mortar)
  • shape and trim bricks using a variety of hammers and other tools
  • applying mortar with trowels
  • checking course alignment with water or laser spirit-levels and plumb lines.

As the building goes up, bricklayers or scaffolders will raise platforms to reach the higher storeys; joiners usually follow closely behind fitting frames for doors and windows as designated by the design blueprints.

Depending on the size of the project, gangs of bricklayers may work on different sections at the same time. Some bricklayers may also specialise in stonemasonry work. See the profile for Stonemason.

What's the working environment like working as a Bricklayer?

The usual working week is 39 hours, Monday to Friday, although overtime at weekends and evenings is common to meet deadlines.

Bricklayers work outside in most weather conditions, and spend much of the time standing, kneeling and carrying heavy loads. The environment can be noisy, dirty and wet, and can involve working from scaffolding.

Personal protective equipment such as safety helmets and boots is worn and, depending on the job, sometimes gloves, goggles or ear defenders. Bricklayers travel from site to site and it is often necessary to work away from home for periods of time. A driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a Bricklayer?

To be a bricklayer you should:

  • be able to understand technical drawings and plans
  • be able to work methodically and accurately
  • have good practical ability
  • have an awareness of safety issues, especially for working at heights
  • have the ability to work as part of a team within the gang and with other tradespeople
  • be physically fit.

Bricklayer Career Opportunities

Bricklayers work for building contractors and local authorities, but many are self-employed and work on a sub-contract basis for contractors as 'labour only' with materials supplied by the building contractor.

Opportunities for qualified bricklayers are excellent, due to the expansion of urban regeneration programmes and construction projects around the country. There may also be opportunities to work abroad on contracts with larger firms.

With experience, it is possible for bricklayers to progress to supervisory roles or related areas, such as estimating and site management.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Bricklayer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

CITB-ConstructionSkills
Bircham Newton
King's Lynn
Norfolk
PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577
www.citb.org.uk

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Tel: 0870 417 8777
www.cscs.uk.com

Equal Opportunities Commission
www.knowyourplace.org.uk