Bricklayers - What They Do

Bricklayers lay bricks, concrete blocks, stone and other similar materials to construct or repair walls, arches, chimneys, fireplaces and other structures in accordance with blueprints and specifications. They are employed by construction companies and bricklaying contractors or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs 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
  • Prepare 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
  • Lay bricks or other masonry units to build residential or commercial chimneys and fireplaces
  • Lay radial bricks to build masonry shells of industrial chimneys
  • Lay or install firebricks to line industrial chimneys and smokestacks
  • Line or reline furnaces, kilns, boilers and similar installations using refractory or acid-resistant bricks, refractory concretes, plastic refractories and other materials
  • Lay bricks, stone or similar materials to provide veneer facing to walls or other surfaces
  • Construct and install prefabricated masonry units
  • Lay bricks or other masonry units to build patios, garden walls and other decorative installations
  • May restore, clean or paint existing masonry structures.

Job titles

  • apprentice bricklayer
  • bricklayer
  • brickmason
  • refractory bricklayer
  • stonecutter
  • stonemason
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • 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.
  • Trade certification for restoration stone masons is available, but voluntary, in Nova Scotia.
  • Red Seal endorsement is also available to qualified bricklayers upon successful completion of the interprovincial Red Seal examination.

Essential Skills


  • Read brief notes from co-workers, e.g. read notes from supervisors to learn about worksite safety hazards. (1)
  • Read short text entries on a variety of forms, e.g. read comments on job orders. (1)
  • Read brochures and flyers from manufacturers and suppliers to learn about tools, equipment and masonry materials. (2)
  • Read instructions, e.g. read instructions for the preparation of building materials, such as mortar, and the use of power tools. (2)
  • Read workplace safety materials, e.g. read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to understand the chemical composition of products and possible hazards. (2)
  • Read inspection reports, e.g. read comments written by building inspectors to learn about the outcomes of inspections and required changes. (2)
  • May read magazine and website articles to stay current on industry trends and broaden their knowledge of bricklaying techniques and materials. (3)
  • May read detailed proposals and tenders, e.g. read proposals and tenders to learn about construction projects and information, such as material and engineering requirements. (4)
  • Read regulations and bylaws, e.g. read building codes, job specifications and bylaws to learn about required materials, ties, bonding agents, mortar strengths and clearances. (4)

Document use

  • Scan a variety of symbols and icons, e.g. Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) symbols to understand hazards associated with products. (1)
  • Complete a variety of checklists and forms, e.g. complete hazard assessment forms and time sheets by checking boxes and entering data, such as dates, times and quantities. (1)
  • Study construction schedules, e.g. scan mill shutdown schedules to determine the timing of refractory work (specialized brick work in ovens and furnaces). (2)
  • Locate data in tables, e.g. locate data, such as dimensions, classifications, times and quantities, in specification tables. (2)
  • Study critical path charts to determine task durations and project due dates. (2)
  • Study assembly drawings, e.g. scan drawings of arches and fireplaces to determine how to install bricks and components. (3)
  • Study scale drawings, e.g. study complex construction drawings to establish material requirements and project specifications. (4)


  • Write reminder notes to themselves and co-workers, e.g. write notes to labourers outlining work required. (1)
  • Write short comments on forms, e.g. write short notes to identify fall hazards and excavations on hazard-assessment forms. (1)
  • May write estimates, e.g. provide written details about construction processes and materials on quotes and estimates. (2)
  • May write reports to describe events leading up to workplace accidents, e.g. write about injuries and events when completing reports for workers' compensation boards. (2)
  • May write proposals, e.g. write proposals outlining project details in response to requests for proposals and public tenders. (3)


  • May receive cash, debit and credit card payments and make change. (1)
  • Measure the length, height and width of building materials and structures. (1)
  • Compare measurements of walls and other masonry components to specifications outlined in work orders and scale drawings. (1)
  • Calculate amounts for mixtures, e.g. use ratios to figure out the amount of water and cement needed to mix a specified amount of mortar. (2)
  • Calculate the average time spent on various types of jobs. (2)
  • Estimate the length of time it will take to complete construction projects. (2)
  • Estimate the amount of mortar and other materials required to complete construction projects. (2)
  • May calculate amounts for estimates and invoices, e.g. multiply hours worked by labour rates and add amounts for materials, supplies and applicable taxes. (3)
  • Calculate the angles of arches to construct doorways and window openings. (3)

Oral communication

  • Talk to suppliers and delivery personnel, e.g. speak with suppliers to place orders and determine delivery times. (1)
  • Exchange information with co-workers and other tradespeople, e.g. speak with other bricklayers to coordinate activities and schedules. (2)
  • Exchange information with forepersons, general contractors and site superintendents, e.g. discuss project requirements and safety concerns with general contractors. (2)
  • May exchange information with customers, e.g. respond to customers' questions about construction procedures and material requirements. (2)
  • Participate in group discussions, e.g. participate in toolbox meetings to discuss safe work practices and the outcomes of job hazard assessments. (2)
  • Exchange detailed construction information with apprentices and co-workers, e.g. explain complex fireplace construction techniques to apprentices. (3)
  • Exchange information with engineers, architects, inspectors and other tradespeople, e.g. speak with engineers, architects and inspectors about design faults and the measures needed to meet scheduling and building code requirements. (3)


  • Judge the condition of materials and supplies, e.g. inspect the condition of cinder blocks prior to their use. (1)
  • Encounter equipment breakdowns. They consult maintenance and repair manuals to troubleshoot and repair faults. They consult with supervisors and equipment repairers for more serious equipment faults. (2)
  • Encounter missing specifications and material shortages. They speak with customers, architects, forepersons, general contractors and site superintendents to get the required specifications. They contact suppliers to arrange for the rush delivery of needed materials. (2)
  • May receive architectural drawings that they know from experience will not work well. They contact customers, architects, forepersons, general contractors or site superintendents about their concerns and suggest alternatives. (2)
  • Decide which tools and materials to use to meet project specifications. (2)
  • Decide task steps and priorities, e.g. decide the order in which to construct retaining walls. (2)
  • Decide what mixing needs to be done to obtain a particular shade of mortar to match heritage brickwork. (2)
  • Decide to refuse unsafe work because the risks to their safety and the safety of others are too high. (2)
  • Evaluate the safety of work sites. They take note of risks posed by equipment and construction hazards, such as excavations and confined spaces, to evaluate the safety of work sites. (2)
  • May evaluate the performance of apprentices. They consider apprentices' abilities to construct masonry structures and locate information, such as specifications from scale drawings. (2)
  • Plan several days in advance for the materials and equipment they will need on the job. They must co-ordinate their daily activities with other trades, such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters. They generally have one source for work assignments, although on large sites, they may respond to the needs of several forepersons. Workers may encounter disruptions caused by weather, materials not coming in on time or the juggling of tasks to meet the needs of other trades on site. They may move to other jobs until these disruptions have been cleared. (2)
  • Obtain building code updates and fire code regulations from government regulatory agencies and building trade offices. (2)
  • May find information about upcoming construction projects by speaking with customers and reading tenders in newspapers and on the Internet. (2)
  • Learn about job hazards by inspecting job sites, reading job hazard assessments, participating in safety briefings and speaking with co-workers. (2)
  • Locate material requirements and specifications, such as height, length and material requirements, from work orders, technical drawings and specification sheets and by speaking with customers, architects, forepersons, general contractors and site superintendents. (2)
  • Evaluate the quality of construction projects. They consider building codes, appearances, alignments and the degree to which dimensions meet those specified in work orders and technical drawings. (3)

Digital technology

  • May use personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as calculating material requirements. (1)
  • May use word processing software to prepare job estimates and invoices. (2)
  • May use spreadsheets to tally costs for job estimates and invoices. (2)
  • May use databases to retrieve forms, such as change orders. (2)
  • May use databases to retrieve and print architectural drawings. (2)
  • May use billing and accounting software to input and track sales, produce invoices and estimates and print reports, such as income and expense statements. (2)
  • May use communication software to exchange email with customers, architects, forepersons, general contractors and site superintendents. (2)
  • Access online information posted by suppliers, manufacturers, unions and associations to stay current on industry trends and practices. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by apprenticeship trainers, suppliers, employers and associations. (2)
  • May use computer-controlled layout equipment, such as total stations (specialized surveying equipment) and smart levels to measure distances and the horizontal and vertical angles of brick structures. (2)
  • May use project management software to schedule lead times and the completion of project milestones. (3)

Other Essential Skills

Working with Others

Bricklayers usually work in a team environment, often with partners. They may work alone on some projects, such as small repair jobs.

Continuous Learning

Bricklayers learn continuously on the job. They read a variety of pamphlets, booklets, texts and manuals. They participate in safety orientations. They may take safety courses, which includes training on rigging, first aid and occupational health and safety. They may take courses on the principles of loss control. They may attend sessions provided by manufacturers of new products or the insurance industry. They may attend specialty courses, such as landscaping with bricks, blocks and stone. Bricklayers also learn through experience and by exercising creativity on the job. For instance, they may use multicoloured brick to create their own pattern in fieldstone.