Job Description, Salary, Job Requirements and more
What Does a Mason Do?
A mason is a skilled tradesperson who works in the masonry profession. Masons work with different types of materials including block, brick and stone to build structures. These structures can range from exterior walls to interior structures such as chimneys. Masons may also work on unique structures including outdoor kitchens.
Individuals who are trained and work in the masonry skilled trade may choose to specialize in a certain type of material. Block masons work with CMU or Concrete Masonry Units to build exterior and interior walls as well as to build foundations for homes. Brick masons work with different types of brick that are added to the exterior of buildings as finishes as well as interior projects including chimneys and fireplaces. Stone masons work with different types of stone. The types of stone may differ from region to region.
Masons use mortar to bind the different masonry units together to make their finished product. Mortar is placed in between the masonry units to fill the gap between the units if they are irregular. It also acts as an adhesive to bind the units together and promote strength and weathering capabilities for the structure.
A professional mason may also be called on to rehabilitate a structure which is already in place. As structures such as buildings age, the masonry units or the mortar can weather. This weathering process may cause openings to appear in the wall and allow water to drive into the interior of the structure. A mason may work on structures to replace or repoint the mortar joints to create a watertight structure.
Masons are often called on to diagnose problems relating to exterior finishes of structures. They use their skills and abilities to identify problems relating to masonry surfaces and finishes. Professional masons use their skills to identify problems and develop solutions to restore the masonry surface back to its original level of performance.
Both residential structures and commercial structures include masonry as a standard building component. Residential structures include stone surfaces as well as brick surfaces. Foundations are typically made of either CMUs or concrete masonry units or are poured concrete foundations. Many features found on the interior of residences including fireplaces and kitchens incorporate masonry features into them.
Commercial structures use masonry components as a major portion of the overall building structure design. Many commercial structures use concrete masonry units as the primary building component of the exterior of the building. Brick and stone are used as facades or exteriors of buildings to help promote specific looks and aesthetics. Many commercial structures incorporate these types of building components because of their ability to fireproof a building.
Professional skilled masons have opportunities to work on both residential and commercial projects. The type of project as well as the duration of the project can differ drastically between the residential and commercial projects. Residential projects may be shorter in duration and may feature more unique designs. Commercial masonry projects may be longer in duration and may not feature the unique products or designs used in residential projects.
- Fitting together individual masonry units including brick, block and stone to complete a finished structure.
- Cutting and finishing masonry units to allow for a finished appearance at ends of structures as well as openings in the structure.
- Mixing and application of mortar mix. Application includes proper tooling and striking of masonry joints.
- Setup of project sites to allow for safe working conditions during the project.
- Proper use of PPE or personal protective equipment during the cutting and grinding of materials.
- Installation of attachment components for facade work including wall ties.
Masons typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and learn the trade either through an apprenticeship or on the job. Many technical schools offer masonry programs which operate both independently and in conjunction with a masonry apprenticeship.
- Ability to use hand tools including tape measure.
- Ability to scale real site conditions into drawings.
- Ability to identify different types of masonry products and understand how they are applied.
- Ability to operate power tools including wet cut saws to trim materials into sizes to fit.
- Ability to work at heights including on scaffolding.
- Ability to lift heavy objects on a continual basis.
There are no specific qualifications required to start working as a mason. Individuals looking to start their own masonry business may be required to acquire a state license depending on the area they are working in. Consult with your local contractor licensing board to determine if a license is required to operate as a masonry contractor.
How Much Does a Mason Make?
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How do I become a Mason?
The career path for someone looking into the masonry skilled trade has several different starting points. Most masons begin their career as a mason’s assistant or helper. Some may begin their career with education through a technical school and then move into a field position.
Masons who start as a helper or laborer learn the basics of the profession including material types as well as learning their way around project sites. Project sites are an environment which need to be learned. It is important for individuals just starting out to learn how project sites work and how to best navigate them.
As individuals grow in their positions, there are many opportunities for different career paths. They may continue on in the field to become a foreman or superintendent. They may also focus on becoming a project estimator. This may lead them to becoming a small business owner.
In addition, there is a strong demand for skilled masons who can diagnose problems relating to masonry projects. The demand for maintenance and repair to masonry structures continues to increase which provides a great opportunity for someone looking to use their skills on existing structures instead of working on new construction or renovations.
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