What Masonry Workers Do
Masonry workers use bricks, concrete and concrete blocks, and natural and manmade stones to build structures.
Masonry work is physically demanding, requiring heavy lifting and long periods of standing, kneeling, and bending. Most masons work full time.
How to Become a Masonry Worker
Masons typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and learn the trade either through an apprenticeship or on the job.
The median annual wage for masonry workers was $46,500 in May 2019.
Employment of masonry workers is projected to decline 3 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete and concrete blocks, and natural and manmade stones to build walkways, walls, and other structures.
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 handtools
- Construct masonry walls
- Align structures, using levels and plumbs
- Clean and polish surfaces with handtools or power tools
- Fill expansion joints with caulking materials
- Lay out and install rainscreen water systems
Masons build structures with brick, block, and stone, some of the most common and durable materials used in construction. They also use concrete—a mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and water—as the foundation for everything from patios and floors to dams and roads.
The following are examples of types of masons:
Brickmasons and blockmasons—often called bricklayers—build and repair walls, fireplaces, 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. Refractory masons are brickmasons who specialize in installing heat- and fire-resistant masonry materials in high-temperature areas such as boilers, furnaces, and soaking pits in industrial buildings.
Cement masonsandconcrete finishers place and finish concrete. They may color concrete surfaces, expose small stones in walls and sidewalks, or make concrete beams, columns, and panels. Throughout the process of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete, cement masons use their knowledge of how conditions may affect concrete and take steps to prevent defects. On small jobs, such as constructing sidewalks, cement masons may use a supportive wire mesh called a lath. On large jobs, such as constructing building foundations, reinforcing iron and rebar workers install the reinforcing mesh.
Stonemasons build stone walls and 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 into 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. 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 imperfections with a grinder. Terrazzo workers also install decorative microtoppings or polishing compounds to new or existing concrete.
Masonry workers held about 302,100 jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up masonry workers was distributed as follows:
|Cement masons and concrete finishers||200,400|
|Brickmasons and blockmasons||81,900|
|Terrazzo workers and finishers||3,000|
The largest employers of masonry workers were as follows:
|Poured concrete foundation and structure contractors||27%|
|Construction of buildings||11|
|Heavy and civil engineering construction||7|
As with many other construction occupations, masonry work is strenuous. Masons often lift heavy materials and stand, kneel, and bend for long periods. The work may be either indoors or outdoors in areas that are dusty, dirty, or muddy. Inclement weather may affect outdoor masonry work.
Injuries and Illnesses
Brickmasons and blockmasons risk injury on the job. Cuts are common, as are injuries occurring from falls and being struck by objects. To avoid injury, workers wear protective gear such as hardhats, safety glasses, high-visibility vests, and harnesses and other apparel to prevent falls.
Most masons work full time, and some work overtime to meet construction deadlines. Masons work mostly outdoors, so inclement weather may affect their schedules. Terrazzo masons may need to work hours that differ from a regular business schedule, to avoid disrupting normal operations.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of masonry workers.
|Occupation||Job Duties||Entry-Level Education||Median Annual Pay, May 2019|
Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$48,330|
Construction Laborers and Helpers
Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.
|See How to Become One||$36,000|
Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers
Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting.
|No formal educational credential||$47,360|
Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights, and other fixtures in buildings.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$44,630|
Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings or mechanical systems.
|See How to Become One||$44,180|
Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges, and roads.
|High school diploma or equivalent||$53,650|
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||$42,050|
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 Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.
For more information about training for masons, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Masonry Workers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/brickmasons-blockmasons-and-stonemasons.htm (visited ).