Bricklayers prepare and lay brick and other masonry units to construct and repair structures such as walls, partitions, patios, arches, fireplaces and chimneys.
Bricklayers work with masonry materials such as brick, concrete block, stone, structural tile and precast panels. They also lay or install fire brick or castable materials in commercial and industrial vessels, as well as acid tile and acid brick.
In general, bricklayers:
- interpret drawings and blueprints, and calculate the materials required
- measure from an established starting point and construct corners first, using a plumb line and mason’s level to ensure each layer will be level from corner to corner
- spread mortar over the base or previous layer, spread more mortar on one end of each brick to be laid, and lay the bricks into position
- remove excess mortar after the brick (or other masonry material) is in position
- use a hammer and chisel or a masonry saw to cut bricks to fit, as required
Bricklayers must know the properties of various mortars and other bonding materials, and how to handle different types of masonry units.
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Bricklayers usually work outdoors, often on scaffolding. They sometimes use protective enclosures and portable heaters in adverse weather conditions. The work is physically demanding, and some travel may be required to get to various work sites. Bricklayers work a five-day, 40-hour week. Overtime is sometimes required to meet construction schedules. On industrial work sites it is common for refractory bricklayers to work in confined spaces and at some heights.
The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy working with their hands on a variety of projects which sometimes require creativity.
To be successful in their trade, bricklayers need:
- the ability to use proper lifting techniques to work with heavy tools and materials weighing up to 25 kilograms,
- manual dexterity and a good sense of balance,
- the ability to get along well with co-workers, and
- an eye for colour, line and proportion.
Bricklayers are employed by special trade, building and general contractors. Some bricklayers are self-employed, usually contracting on small jobs such as patios and fireplaces.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $30 to $42 an hour for red brick and $48 to $53 an hour for the refractory sector, plus benefits.
Many bricklayers stay in the trade until they retire. Others advance to estimator, inspector, foreman or managerial positions.
To work as a bricklayer in Alberta, a person must:
- be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential , OR
- work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
- be self-employed
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for a bricklayer is 3 years (three 12-month periods), including a minimum of 1600 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Bricklayer trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer’s recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application. For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a bricklayer in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- Courses in mathematics and science are particularly important.
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice bricklayers earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 80 percent in the second, and 90 percent in the third year.
- complete all program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for bricklayer apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.
A bricklayer who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience, in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.