Job as a bricklayer

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Peter Johnson always wanted to work in the building and construction sector. He became an apprentice bricklayer as soon as he left school and has never looked back.

How difficult is bricklaying?

It is a skilled trade and every job must be done properly to ensure that the building is safe. For example, damp courses must always be put in at the correct point and the cement between the bricks must be correctly finished to ensure that rain does not get into the joint. This is called pointing.

How do you know exactly where to start building?

From the foundations, which go in first. We cannot build unless foundations are in place and these give us the area on which we can mark out and start construction.

What tools do you use?

I have to check that the wall I am building is vertical and horizontally level as I work, so I use bricklayers' lines and spirit levels. I also use tools such as trowels to spread mortar and specialised hammers and chisels to cut bricks or blocks to size. Portable power tools are also used.

What training did you receive?

I started an apprenticeship straight from school and have never done anything else. I receive regular training in health and safety and am advised by my employer if any new methods have to be used on any of the work I am doing.

What are the pros and cons of the job?

I like the flexibility. As a bricklayer I can get a job anywhere. I can be self-employed if I want to or work for a company. You have to be prepared to work in bad weather sometimes but it is a very nice job for most of the year.

What skills and qualities are needed to be a bricklayer?

Patience. Building by hand using bricks is a very slow process and it is some time before you can really see the results of your labour. It is also very hard work so physical strength is needed.

Peter's route to his job as a bricklayer

  • Apprenticeship straight from school.

Peter's bricklayer job tips

  • Become an apprentice and stick at it until you are qualified.
  • Take time in everything that you do. Good work cannot be hurried.
  • Make sure that everything you do is done properly – no short cuts.

Bricklayer related jobs

  • Cavity wall insulator
  • Stonemason
  • Dry stone waller
  • Plasterer

Salary of a bricklayer

  • Bricklayers are often self-employed or work on contract for a building contractor or local authority with minimum starting salaries around £215 a week. However, this can be boosted considerably according to demand, bonuses and overtime.
  • The Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC) agrees minimum wage rates annually – currently around £7.50 an hour.
  • As self-employed, annual income can be £25,000 - £30,000.

Job as a bricklayer

  • In England and Wales, the Construction Apprenticeship Scheme offers a structured training programme leading to NVQ Level 3. Students at school usually apply for a Construction Apprenticeship in January of Year 11.
  • A Construction Award is available for people who find it difficult to get the workplace experience they need for an NVQ. CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) awards Construction Awards in Bricklaying.
  • There are NVQs/SVQs in Bricklaying at Levels 2 and 3 as well as City & Guilds certificates in Basic Bricklaying Skills (6081).

Modified: 16 June 2013

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