Summary

brickmasons blockmasons and stonemasons image
Masons construct walls using bricks, blocks, and stones.
Quick Facts: Masonry Workers
2016 Median Pay $41,330 per year
$19.87 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2016 292,500
Job Outlook, 2016-26 12% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 34,500

What Masonry Workers Do

Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete blocks, concrete, and natural and manmade stones to build walls, walkways, fences, and other masonry structures.

Work Environment

The work is physically demanding because masons lift heavy materials and often must stand, kneel, and bend for long periods. Poor weather conditions may reduce work activity because masons usually work outdoors. Most masons work full time.

How to Become a Masonry Worker

Most masons have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn either through an apprenticeship program or on the job.

Pay

The median annual wage for masonry workers was $41,330 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of masonry workers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Population growth will result in the construction of more schools, hospitals, homes, and other buildings. Workers with experience in construction should have the best job opportunities.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for masonry workers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of masonry workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about masonry workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Masonry Workers Do About this section

Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons
Masons clean excess mortar with trowels and other hand tools.

Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete blocks, concrete, and natural and manmade stones to build walls, walkways, fences, and other masonry structures.

Duties

Masons typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or drawings to calculate materials needed
  • Lay out patterns, forms, or foundations according to plans
  • Break or cut materials to required size
  • Mix mortar or grout and spread it onto a slab or foundation
  • Clean excess mortar with trowels and other hand tools
  • Construct corners with a corner pole or by building a corner pyramid
  • Align structures vertically and horizontally, using levels and plumbs
  • Clean and polish surfaces with hand or power tools
  • Fill expansion joints with the appropriate caulking materials

Masonry materials are some of the most common and durable materials used in construction. Brick, block, and stone structures can last for hundreds of years. Concrete—a mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and water—is the foundation for everything from decorative patios and floors to huge dams or miles of roadways.

The following are examples of types of masons:

Brickmasons and blockmasons—often called bricklayers—build and repair walls, floors, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys, and other structures with brick, terra cotta, precast masonry panels, concrete block, and other masonry materials. Pointing, cleaning, and caulking workers are brickmasons who repair brickwork, particularly on older structures from which mortar has come loose. Refractory masons are brickmasons who specialize in installing firebrick, gunite, castables, and refractory tile in high-temperature boilers, furnaces, cupolas, ladles, and soaking pits in industrial establishments.

Cement masons and concrete finishers place and finish concrete. They may color concrete surfaces, expose aggregate (small stones) in walls and sidewalks, or make concrete beams, columns, and panels. Throughout the process of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete, cement masons monitor how the wind, heat, or cold affects the curing of the concrete. They use their knowledge of the characteristics of concrete to determine what is happening to it and take measures to prevent defects. Some small jobs, such as constructing sidewalks, may require the use of a supportive wire mesh called lath. On larger jobs, such as constructing building foundations, reinforcing iron and rebar workers install the reinforcing mesh.

Stonemasons build stone walls, as well as set stone exteriors and floors. They work with two types of stone: natural-cut stone, such as marble, granite, and limestone; and artificial stone, made from concrete, marble chips, or other masonry materials. Using a special hammer or a diamond-blade saw, workers cut stone to make various shapes and sizes. Some stonemasons specialize in setting marble, which is similar to setting large pieces of stone.

Terrazzo workers and finishers, also known as terrazzo masons, create decorative walkways, floors, patios, and panels. Much of the preliminary work of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete for terrazzo is similar to that of cement masons. Epoxy terrazzo requires less base preparation and is significantly thinner when completed. Terrazzo workers create decorative finishes by blending fine marble chips into the epoxy, resin, or cement, which is often colored. Once the terrazzo is thoroughly set, workers correct any depressions or imperfections with a grinder to create a smooth, uniform finish. Terrazzo workers also install decorative toppings or polishing compounds to new or existing concrete.

Work Environment About this section

Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons
Masons typically work outdoors.

Masonry workers held about 292,500 jobs in 2016. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up masonry workers was distributed as follows:

Cement masons and concrete finishers 178,900
Brickmasons and blockmasons 91,100
Stonemasons 18,900
Terrazzo workers and finishers 3,600

The largest employers of masonry workers were as follows:

Poured concrete foundation and structure contractors 27%
Masonry contractors 22
Self-employed workers 13
Construction of buildings 10
Heavy and civil engineering construction 7

As with many other construction occupations, the work is fast-paced and strenuous. Masons often lift heavy materials and stand, kneel, and bend for long periods. The work, either indoors or outdoors, may be in areas that are muddy, dusty, or dirty. Inclement weather can affect masonry work, but some masonry work, such as setting up floors, may not be affected. Most masons work full time.

Injuries and Illnesses

Brickmasons and blockmasons have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Common injuries include cuts, injuries from falls, and being struck by objects. Many workers wear protective gear, such as hardhats, safety glasses, and earplugs, to avoid injury.

Work Schedules

Although most masons work full time, some work more hours to meet construction deadlines. Masonry work is done mostly outdoors, so masons may have to stop work during inclement weather. Terrazzo masons may need to work at night when businesses are closed.

How to Become a Masonry Worker About this section

Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons
Apprentices learn by working with experienced masons.

Most masons have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn either through an apprenticeship program or on the job.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most masons.

Many technical schools offer programs in masonry. These programs operate both independently and in conjunction with apprenticeship training. Some people take courses before being hired, and some take them later as part of on-the-job training.

Training

Most masons learn the trade through apprenticeships and on the job, working with experienced masons.

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Apprentices learn construction basics, such as blueprint reading; mathematics for measurement; building code requirements; and safety and first-aid practices. After completing an apprenticeship program, masons are considered journey workers and are able to perform tasks on their own.

The Home Builders Institute and the International Masonry Institute offer pre-apprenticeship training programs for eight construction trades, including masonry.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Some workers start out working as construction laborers and helpers before becoming a mason.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Terrazzo workers need to be able to distinguish between small variations in color when setting terrazzo patterns in order to produce the best looking finish.

Dexterity. Masons repeatedly handle bricks, stones, and other materials and must place bricks and materials with precision.

Hand–eye coordination. Masons apply smooth, even layers of mortar; set bricks; and remove any excess before the mortar hardens.

Physical stamina. Brickmasons must keep a steady pace while setting bricks. Although no individual brick is extremely heavy, the constant lifting can be tiring.

Physical strength. Workers should be strong enough to lift more than 50 pounds. They carry heavy tools, equipment, and other materials, such as bags of mortar and grout.

Unafraid of heights. Masons often work on scaffolding, so they should be comfortable working at heights.

Pay About this section

Masonry Workers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Construction trades workers

$42,310

Masonry workers

$41,330

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for masonry workers was $41,330 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,310.

Median annual wages for masonry workers in May 2016 were as follows:

Brickmasons and blockmasons $49,250
Terrazzo workers and finishers 40,930
Stonemasons 39,780
Cement masons and concrete finishers 39,180

In May 2016, the median annual wages for masonry workers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Masonry contractors $46,580
Construction of buildings 44,190
Heavy and civil engineering construction 40,970
Poured concrete foundation and structure contractors 38,520

Although most masons work full time, some work more hours to meet construction deadlines. Masonry work is done mostly outdoors, so masons may have to stop work during inclement weather. Terrazzo masons may need to work at night when businesses are closed.

Job Outlook About this section

Masonry Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Masonry workers

12%

Construction trades workers

11%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Overall employment of masonry workers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Although employment growth will vary by occupation, it will be driven by the level of construction needed to meet the demands of a growing population, including demands for more commercial, public, and civil construction projects such as new roads, bridges, and buildings.

Employment of cement masons and concrete finishers is projected to grow 13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Cement masons will be needed to build and renovate highways, bridges, factories, and residential structures in order to meet the demands of a growing population and to make repairs to aging infrastructure.

Employment of brickmasons and block masons is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Population growth will result in the construction of more schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, and other structures, many of which are made of brick and block. In addition, masons will be needed to restore a growing number of other kinds of brick buildings. Although expensive, brick exteriors should remain popular, reflecting a preference for low-maintenance, durable exterior materials.

Employment of stonemasons is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Natural stone is both a durable and popular material. As incomes and the population continue to grow, more homeowners will prefer natural stone for its durability and aesthetic value.

Employment of terrazzo workers and finishers is projected to grow 12 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Terrazzo is a durable and attractive flooring option that is often used in schools, government buildings, and hospitals. The construction and renovation of such buildings will spur demand for these workers.

Job Prospects

Overall job prospects for masons should be good as construction activity continues to grow to meet the demand for new buildings and roads. Workers with experience in construction should have the best opportunities.  

As with many other construction workers, employment of masons is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, during peak periods of building activity some areas may require additional number of these workers.

Employment projections data for masonry workers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Masonry workers

292,500 327,000 12 34,500

Brickmasons and blockmasons

47-2021 91,100 100,800 11 9,700 employment projections excel document xlsx

Stonemasons

47-2022 18,900 20,700 10 1,900 employment projections excel document xlsx

Cement masons and concrete finishers

47-2051 178,900 201,500 13 22,600 employment projections excel document xlsx

Terrazzo workers and finishers

47-2053 3,600 4,000 12 400 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of masonry workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

High school diploma or equivalent $43,600
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $32,230
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

No formal educational credential $42,280
Glaziers

Glaziers

Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights, and other fixtures in storefronts and buildings.

High school diploma or equivalent $41,920
Insulation workers

Insulation Workers

Insulation workers, also called insulators, install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems.

See How to Become One $39,280
Structural iron and steel workers

Ironworkers

Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges, and roads.

High school diploma or equivalent $50,830
Tile and marble setters

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

No formal educational credential $39,150

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities for masonry workers, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors or firms that employ masons, or local union–management apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor's ApprenticeshipUSA program online or by phone at 877-872-5627.

For more information about training for masons, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

Home Builders Institute

International Masonry Institute

Mason Contractors Association of America

National Association of Home Builders

NCCER

Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association

The Associated General Contractors of America

The National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association

O*NET

Brickmasons and Blockmasons

Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers

Stonemasons

Terrazzo Workers and Finishers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Masonry Workers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/brickmasons-blockmasons-and-stonemasons.htm (visited November 22, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.