Do you like working outdoors with your hands? Are you physically strong and like to keep in shape? Are you smart and enjoy making calculations? Do you take pride in building something, and being able to say “I built that”? If so, then when not consider becoming a bricklayer? This is a very good trade to work in, and you should never have a problem finding work. Bricklayers use a range of practical and mental skills to build structures from brick. These structures vary a lot. You could be making a wall, or a house, or something a bit different like an arch or structure for the garden. There is even room for creativity in some bricklaying jobs, after all, you are creating something which is often beautiful in its own way. Bricklayers have an important job. Just think, can you imagine how Australia would look without any brick structures?
Bricklaying is a practical, physical, technical and creative trade. The work is very rewarding and there is always a solid need for skilled workers in this trade. If the life of a bricklayer sounds like a perfect fit for your personality and interests then check out what you need to do next.
Step one: Take a course in construction
Most bricklayers will learn the specific skills they need on an apprenticeship. However, starting to pursue your dream job by taking a construction course first will stand you in good stead. On the course, you learn a strong foundation of construction knowledge. Particularly in relation to health and safety regulations. Once you are working it is critical you have a sound understanding of building and safety regulations.
Step two: Apply for an apprenticeship
Once you have received your qualifications you can look for apprenticeship opportunities. The bricklaying course will teach you the practical and technical skills specific to bricklaying. When looking for an apprenticeship make sure you tailor your resume and cover letter for each application. Also, don’t forget to highlight your qualifications showing your commitment to the industry. As well as mentioning your personal strengths, and any relevant experience.
Step three: Register for industry certification
Register for industry certification with the body local to where you live. This is not a requirement for working as a bricklayer. However, the recognition can help you find work, affirming your skills and qualifications. If you are working on domestic properties, the certification can give potential clients the confidence in your skills. When applying for commercial builds the certification can give you an edge over other applicants.
Step four: Gain experience
Usually, an apprenticeship will lead to full-time work. Once you have completed your training focus on building up your experience and honing your skills. If you don’t have full-time work available with the company you trained with you can apply for work on commercial construction sites. Or with small businesses who work in construction on domestic properties. Make sure you highlight your qualifications, work experience, and certification.
Step five: Consider a specialisation
Bricklaying makes a good starting point for some interesting specialisations. You can use your skills as a bricklayer to move into areas which focus on one kind of material or building a specific kind of structure. Experienced bricklayers could progress into management if this area of work interests you.
A rewarding specialisation to consider, an arch builder specialises in building arches. You also work with ornamental bricks and bricks with unconventional shapes. The work has a creative side to it, more so than straight house building. Building arches is a specialised skill and you may need to learn the skills working with another experienced arch builder.
A stonemason takes a step away from bricks and specialises in working with stone. You will build different structures with hard and soft stones, and you may also find yourself renovating old stone structures. Stonemasons can also specialise further working in stone on monuments and masonry for cemeteries. This specialisation often includes learning to carve stone lettering and fixing stone to buildings as a facade.
In this specialisation, your work takes you into an industrial environment. You use your skills to build kilns and furnaces. Moreover, you use a special heavy duty brick and cement which tolerates the high temperatures required. Refractory bricklayers usually work in the mining or petrochemical industry.
Building a chimney is another specialised task for bricklayers. You build chimneys using special bricks and cement which can handle the high temperatures. Chimney design needs to follow particular specifications and designs so they function properly. Most chimney builders will work on domestic properties, but sometimes other kinds of build have a need for them too.
What do Bricklayers Do?
Some bricklayers work on big commercial builds, or on smaller developments building houses. Labourers on the site deliver cement and bricks and they lay the bricks, layer by layer. You can find bricklayers working on smaller projects like wall building. Or building smaller structures like a conservatory in the garden. Bricklayers work with traditional red bricks, concrete blocks, and cement. You use concrete blocks on out of sight parts of the build to reduce costs. Bricklayers are also called in to repair existing brick and block structures. On new builds, they will need to follow plans or design specifications provided by the architect or garden designer.
- Laying bricks to build walls, houses and other structures like arches
- Using plans to guide the building work
- Sealing foundations with damp-resistant materials
- Cutting and shaping bricks with power tools
- Repairing damaged or worn brick structures
Skills for Success
Bricklaying is a physical job, and you should have good personal fitness to keep up with the demands of the job. Having said that on big construction sites the bricklayers may not mix their own cement, which relives the demands a little. On small projects they will have to deliver their own cement and bricks to the spot they are laying. Building houses mean you will work at heights at times. Some projects mean working in a team, and some projects involve working independently. A successful bricklayer will work comfortably in both ways. As well as the practical skill of bricklaying itself, which needs a steady hand and patience. You will also need to read plans, and make calculations related to material volumes and ratios for cement mixing.
Skills and attributes
- Enjoy working outdoors
- Don’t mind working at heights
- Good hand-eye coordination
- Physically strong
- Able to work in a team or independently
- A foundation of technical knowledge
What is a Bricklayer Salary in Australia?
In Australia, bricklayers earn a median wage of $55,283 per year. This varies according to a number of factors and is intended as a reference only, from Payscale 05/’18.