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Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
With additional training and experience, brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons may become supervisors for masonry contractors. Some eventually become owners of businesses and may spend most of their time as managers. Others move into closely related areas such as construction management or building inspection. Many unionized Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees offer “life-long learning” through continuing education courses that help those members who want to advance their technical knowledge and their careers.

Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons held 160,200 jobs in 2008. The vast majority were brickmasons and blockmasons. Workers in these crafts are employed in building construction or by specialty trade contractors.

About 27 percent of brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons were self-employed. Many of the self-employed are contractors who work on small jobs, such as patios, walkways, and fireplaces.

Job Outlook
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons should see as fast as average growth as the construction industry responds to the needs of a growing population. Job prospects should be better for workers with more thorough training who can work on complex structures.

Job Growth
Jobs for brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons are expected to increase by 12 percent over the 2008–18 decade, as fast as the average for all occupations, as the rising population will create a need for schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and other structures. Also stimulating demand for workers will be the need to build more energy-efficient industrial facilities and office buildings (some of which may be made from brick) and to restore a growing number of old brick buildings. Moreover, the Federal Government has indicated a willingness to spend more on repairing schools and on making government buildings more energy efficient, which should have a positive impact on the construction industry in general.

Because of demographic forces, the residential housing market is expected to eventually pick up again. Brick exteriors and, particularly, stone should remain popular, reflecting a growing preference for durable exterior materials requiring little maintenance. There is also an increased demand for durable homes that incorporate brick or stone in hurricane-prone areas.

Job opportunities for brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons are expected to be in rough balance over the 2008–18 period as laid-off workers and a reduced level of construction help balance out a need for skilled brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons. The masonry workforce is growing older, and a large number of masons are expected to retire over the next decade, which will create many job openings. Applicants who take masonry-related courses at technical schools will improve their job prospects.

Employment of brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to changes in the economy. When the level of construction activity falls, workers in these trades can experience periods of unemployment. On the other hand, shortages of workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity. Ongoing, however, is the need to repair and restore a large number of aging masonry buildings. This work will increase opportunities for workers with these types of skills.

New concerns over the costs of heating and cooling buildings of all types has led to a need to train construction workers of all types, including brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons, in the emerging field of green construction. Contractors familiar with this burgeoning area will have better job opportunities in the future.

Median hourly wages of brickmasons and blockmasons in May 2008 were $21.94. The middle 50 percent earned between $16.77 and $28.46. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $13.26, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $35.63. In the two industries employing the largest numbers of brickmasons and blockmasons in May 2008—the foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors industry and the nonresidential building industry—median hourly wages were $21.71 and $23.84, respectively.

Median hourly wages of wage and salary stonemasons in May 2008 were $18.17. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.31 and $23.72. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.63, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $31.87.

Apprentices or helpers usually start at about 50 percent of the wage rate paid to experienced workers. Pay increases as apprentices gain experience and learn new skills. Employers usually increase apprentices' wages about every 6 months on the basis of specific advancement criteria.

About 18 percent of brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons were members of unions, mainly the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers.

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