In Summary - Bricklayer
The Work - Bricklayer
Brick and stonelaying involves constructing all types of walls, from plain walls to more detailed work.
Brick and stonelaying is an essential part of many structures and a brick and stonelayer has to make sure that the structure is accurate and meets design requirements. Many sizes and colours of building material are used and considerable skill is needed to combine these into bonds to meet requirements. Bricklayers need to be able to read plans and drawings to find out how the structure is to be built and take account of where corners need to be or where openings must be left for doors and windows.
A brick/stonelayer may work on new buildings, extensions or the restoration of existing buildings. A variety of tools are used, for example, laying trowel for spreading mortar, pointing trowel, for pointing, spirit level for plumbing and levelling the wall, club hammers and brick hammers, a bolster and a variety of cold chisels for cutting and trimming brick stone and blocks, lines and line pines and corner blocks, for lining in walls etc.
Power tools may be also used from time-to-time. The work is mainly outdoors and conditions can be dirty and dusty as well as cold, damp and muddy.
These craftspersons are generally employed in the building industry or they may be engaged on maintenance work in large industrial undertakings.
Health and safety is an important aspect of the job, so a brick and stonelayer needs to wear protective footwear, a safety helmet and, occasionally, safety glasses and hand protection.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Remove excess mortar with trowels and hand tools, and finish mortar joints with jointing tools, for a sealed, uniform appearance.
- Construct corners by fastening in plumb position a corner pole or building a corner pyramid of bricks, and filling in between the corners using a line from corner to corner to guide each course, or layer, of brick.
- Measure distance from reference points and mark guidelines to lay out work, using plumb bobs and levels.
- Break or cut bricks, tiles, or blocks to size, using trowel edge, hammer, or power saw.
- Interpret blueprints and drawings to determine specifications and to calculate the materials required.
- Fasten or fuse brick or other building material to structure with wire clamps, anchor holes, torch, or cement.
- Lay and align bricks, blocks, or tiles to build or repair structures or high temperature equipment, such as cupola, kilns, ovens, or furnaces.
- Mix specified amounts of sand, clay, dirt, or mortar powder with water to form refractory mixtures.
- Calculate angles and courses and determine vertical and horizontal alignment of courses.
- Clean working surface to remove scale, dust, soot, or chips of brick and mortar, using broom, wire brush, or scraper.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
- Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Interests - Bricklayer
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
As a brick and stonelayer you need to be physically fit and strong as the work involves bending, stretching, lifting and working at heights. You need to be able to work both alone and in a team. You also need to be neat, accurate and have an eye for visual effect.
Entry Requirements - Bricklayer
The official entry route for a Bricklayer is through undertaking an apprenticeship.
The employer pays the apprentice while s/he is being trained on-the-job. A training allowance is paid by the local ETB while the apprentice is attending the off-the-job training, and an Apprentice Rate of pay during the on-the-job phases of their apprenticeship. Generally, the rates of pay are based on a percentage of the fully qualified rate for the occupation:
- 1st Years – 33.3%
- 2nd Years – 50%
- 3rd Years – 75%
- 4th Years – 90%
A training allowance is paid by the local ETB to apprentices while attending off-the-job training. In some cases, a contribution towards travel or accommodation costs may be paid if deemed eligible. The sector the apprentice's employer is engaged in will determine the allowance payable. These allowances are calculated on the gross wages paid by industry in each sector. The amount the apprentice gets will generally be less than that, as it is based on the net take-home pay of the relevant sector. The weekly gross wage norms for different industries can be found here
The Annual Student Contribution is charged to students attending Higher Education Institutions including Institutes of Technology (IoT). Apprentices now pay the same contribution as full time students, but their contribution is based on the time they spend in the Institute or College.
The Student Contribution is payable to the IoT /College on the date of registration for the training phase. You should consult the relevant IoT/College for details of payment options.
Note: Apprentices are required to pay an examination fee to the IoT or College for repeat exams. For further information, click here.
Last Updated: November, 2014
Pay & Salary - Bricklayer
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 18k - 47k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Bricklayer
With almost 2,000 job ready job seekers there remains an overhang of supply from the recession for this occupation. However, as apprenticeship registrations in this area remain low, shortages could emerge if an increase in residential activity occurs.
The high employment growth rate should be treated with caution.
National Skills Bulletin 2018