As one of the oldest arts used by man and still the most widely used in the world, masonry is one skill that can go a long way. Although it is sometimes overlooked, it is vital in the building world for building walls, tunnels and even homes. If you are one who appreciates this skill and have an interest in diving into this field, then read on for more information on masonry.
What is Masonry?
Masonry is the art and craft of building and fabricating in stone, clay, brick, or concrete block. Construction of poured concrete, reinforced or unreinforced, is often also considered masonry.
Careers in Masonry
While careers in Masonry may seem limited, there are still quite a few options to choose from – see the list below for some of these careers:
- Mason – in this role, you would use bricks, concrete blocks, or natural stones to build structures including walls, walkways, fences, and chimneys.
- Site supervisor/Foreman – as a foreman, you would perform a pivotal role in the success of a project as you would be responsible for organising construction works on site.
- Quality control technician – you would be required to read blueprints and specifications of the products being created and monitor operations to ensure that they meet the quality assurance standards that have been set. This requires you to be intimately familiar with the production process from start to finish and also to be aware of each person’s role and what each machine does.
- Project manager – you would play the lead role in planning, executing, monitoring, controlling and closing projects. Being a project manager means that you would be accountable for the entire project scope, project team, resources, and the success or failure of the project.
- Restoration expert/technician – in this role you would help victims of disasters like fires or floods by assessing and cleaning damaged properties, repairing and installing new materials, and restoring homes. You may also find yourself working to preserve historical buildings against structural and design damage that happens over time.
- General contractor – as a general contractor, you would have the responsibility of overseeing the construction project. The general contractor (also called direct contractor) is a party who contracts with and is hired directly by the owner of the property.
Working with the list above, you would find that formal education is not a requirement for many posts in this field. However, job requirements may still vary slightly with each career.
Firstly, to become a mason, there is no particular requirement for post-secondary education, but you will need training. This can be done through a 3-4 year apprenticeship where you would gain applicable experience while also learning the theory. Upon completion of the program, you’ll be considered a journey worker, which means you can do your job unsupervised.
When it comes to foremen, while it is typical that you work your way up to this position, you are still able to be employed externally. For this role, experience is widely accepted in the place of formal training in some circumstances. If you would like to take the academic route, good areas to consider studying are project management and building services.
Similarly for general contractors there is no formal education requirement, but you will need to be skilled in building/design and have knowledge of estimating, plan-reading and budgeting. That being said, the best route may very well be through gaining experience on construction sites.
Education requirements for quality control technicians vary widely based on the industry and even the company where you will work. In many instances, you may not need more than a high school diploma, however, for certain industries or companies, specialization is needed. As a minimum, you would have to be knowledgeable on the building code and regulations in your area in order to properly inspect quality.
If you would like to become a project manager, then completing a bachelor’s/undergraduate degree in project management would be a great idea. This can also be topped up with a master’s degree if you choose to specialise.
Lastly, to be a restoration technician you would be required to have a working knowledge of building codes. Like many of the careers discussed above, there is no concrete requirement for formal post-secondary education. However, it would be very beneficial to get certified in your area which we discuss below.
To find the building codes and regulations per region, click here for the US and here for the UK. The Caribbean does not have a uniform set of building codes, so it’s imperative that you research this based on the country you plan to work in. To find the Building Code and Regulations for the Turks and Caicos, visit the Department of Physical Planning to enquire.
Other skills and competencies that would benefit you in this field include:
- Physical fitness
- Manual dexterity
- Creative skills
- Reading skills
- Problem solving skills
- Be able to manage resources
- Be decisive and able to work well under pressure
- Excellent working knowledge of hand and power tools
- The ability to read blueprints
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How to Stand Out
Getting certified is an excellent way to make you stand out and so it is highly suggested that you try to obtain certificates in as many relevant areas as you can – and there is no shortage of options available to you where this is concerned. For example, you can obtain multiple certifications in masonry, or certificates in architecture, project management, budgeting, quality control as well as inspection cleaning and restoration. There are certificate programs available for working with concrete that may be extremely relevant to masons and foremen. Considering the growing emphasis on environmentally friendly habits, you may be interested in obtaining certifications in ‘green building’.
Get Hands-On Experience
Because of the job requirements for this field, experience is essential in setting yourself apart in the recruitment process. For this reason, we highly suggest taking advantage of available work experience and internship opportunities wherever possible. You can try approaching local construction companies for opportunities that they offer – Luxury Construction, J & W Construction, TDMG and CBMS are among good options of businesses to approach.
You also may contact the Turks and Caicos Government’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning to enquire on any internship opportunities available. The Ministry currently does not have an active website and so the best way to get in touch might be to pop by their office or call them for contact information. Falling under the Ministry of Infrastructure is the Planning Department which is a great option worth considering for work experience as this department is responsible for managing the development of the TCI, which includes ensuring construction work is done in accordance with the building code of the country – you can find them here.
As masonry is a very hands-on field, it may be easier to get practice with this than it would be in other industries. Do note, however, that because certain property fixtures require prior planning permission, you may not be able to simply erect brick walls in the name of practice. What you can do though, is work on the skills that you would need in this field, such as dexterity and creativity. Perform some dexterity exercises and practice reading and understanding blueprints. You can also keep up with the latest in the industry by reading magazines like Masonry Magazine. – this would also help you improve creativity by seeing what others are doing.
You may find the links at the bottom of this post useful in getting started in this field. Alternatively, feel free to browse our other career topics if you are still undecided or send us a message if you would like more personalised advice. An excellent way to help you stand out regardless of your industry or career is to have a professional and tailored CV/resume so feel free to contact us to help you make your recipe for success once you are ready to take the next step in your career.
Fun fact – Philadelphia City Hall is both the tallest masonry building and the tallest load-bearing structure on Earth. It was also the first known non-religious structure to hold the record for the world’s tallest building.
Learn how to pursue a career in Masonry within these regions
Resources: Use the links below to sign up for free online courses and you may be able to get a certificate upon completion (NB. there may be a small fee to obtain the certificates). You can also watch the video lecture on an introduction to communication fundamentals.
‘Construction Project Management’ course at Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/learn/construction-project-management
The Construction Industry: The Way Forward: https://www.coursera.org/learn/construction-industry-forward