To train, most masons enter a masonry certificate program (2 to 4 semesters long) or pursue an apprenticeship (3 to 4 years long) with an experienced mason. Students should have a high school diploma or GED certificate to enroll in a masonry program. To practice, masons must have at least four years of experience and in-depth knowledge of masonry practices.
Masons should be in good physical health to walk and lift blocks, bricks and stones. Cooperation with other construction professionals is necessary to meet specific goals. An important aspect of masonry is cost estimation; masons must be able to accurately evaluate the cost of masonry services and materials. They should be able to read construction blueprints and follow structural plans and safety regulations.
Masonry certificate programs teach students basic and advanced bricklaying and masonry practices, as well as how to safely build and maintain stone, concrete and brick structures. Programs allow students to gain technical industry knowledge, as well as hands-on experience. Common courses include:
- Basic bricklaying
- Reading masonry diagrams and blueprints
- Cleaning, pointing and caulking
- Masonry power tools
- Stonework and other surfaces
- Cost estimation
Masons are generally required to have at least four years of experience. Masons gain experience by beginning as laborers or mason tenders. They perform basic construction duties and aid experienced masons. They can then enter an apprenticeship where they perform more advanced duties under the supervision of another mason.
Classroom instruction is part of the apprenticeship, and the combination of classroom teaching and practical experience allows masons to become proficient in masonry within several years. Apprenticeships are typically arranged by contractors or masonry unions.
Continuing Education Information
Some states require masons to be licensed as contractors, attesting to work experience and masonry knowledge. Masons who run their own company can also seek certification from the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA). To obtain certification, the owner of the company must attend training courses to earn 100 educational credits, as well as passing a multiple choice exam. To renew certification, the owner and supervisors of the company must participate in continuing education courses throughout the 3-year certification period, but they do not need to retake the exam.
The MCAA also holds online and in-person seminars for masons, mason foremen and masonry supervisors. The seminars cover topics like masonry estimation, quality assurance and risk management in masonry. Many of these seminars are offered as part of the organization's continuing education program.
Additional Professional Development
Masons can find professional development resources from MCAA. The organization publishes Masonry magazine, which provides career and continuing education information for readers. The MCAA holds competitions, conferences and offers a library of information on masonry safety and legal issues. Members can find a detailed job board, discussion forum and online bookstore with textbooks, training guides and other resources. The organization's continuing education program provides a number of opportunities for masons to develop professionally.
Vocational schools that offer masonry programs typically hold masonry training workshops. Typically, these workshops address a specific area of masonry, such as bricklaying, pointing and cleaning, masonry alteration, decorative masonry or installing firebrick. Workshops may also be offered by employers in order to familiarize newly hired masons with the employer's specific policies and procedures.
Aspiring masons can seek their training through certificate programs and/or apprenticeships with experienced masons. These programs help prepare masons for licensure in states that require it. Masons can also pursue voluntary certifications through the Masonry Contractors Association of America (MCAA), an organization that also offers online and in-person seminars on masonry.