Bricklaying Course and Career Progression
What is a Bricklayer?
A bricklayer works within the construction industry. They are similar to craftsman or masons but focus on the construction of brickwork most often with a goal of being structurally effective. Further, they conduct repairs or add extensions to buildings. This career is physically demanding yet rewarding due to the sense of achievement that comes from finishing a building project. A bricklayer can begin working after completing a bricklaying course. Once a bricklayer, many continue to progress in their career. There are many options for someone beginning their career in this area. Professions related to bricklaying include stone masonry, carpentry, site supervisory roles and site managerial roles.
Bricklaying can be financially rewarding with a great salary that increases with experience and progression. The average salary of a bricklayer is 30k+. This career is also highly in demand and therefore it is likely that individuals in construction will not struggle to find work. In addition, every day is likely to be different, with new challenges to overcome on a daily basis.
Learning about what is required for a profession in bricklaying is important, this article will provide information about what qualifications are needed, what it takes to be a bricklayer, course content and career progression.
What Qualifications Are Needed for Bricklaying?
A bricklaying course is the foundation of any career in bricklaying.
It is generally recognised that a Level 2 Diploma in Bricklaying, a Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills or a Level 2 Diploma in Trowel Occupations can lead to a job. Importantly, the course must provide a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ). This type of qualified course is work-based and it is assessed by both portfolio and observation of tasks. An NVQ also allows individuals to obtain a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card (CSCS).
CSCS cards are not a legal requirement, however, it is very common that in order to work on-site, contractors and companies will require them as standard. In addition, CSCS cards ensure that all workers are competent on-site and it also improves the overall standards on-site such as health and safety and building quality.
You can read more about CSCS here.
Other bricklayers start their profession with an apprenticeship and work whilst learning, or they start working immediately and work their way up. However, in these circumstances, a qualification will need to be gained at some point before they are allowed to work on large construction sites. Therefore, it is potentially more beneficial for individuals to begin their career with a bricklaying course. This will reduce the stress that some may have of obtaining a qualification in a short amount of time.
What Does it Take to Be a Bricklayer?
A bricklayer’s duties are physically demanding. Bricklayers work long hours and have to lift heavy objects so they must be physically fit. They also have to work well with their hands. Furthermore, one of the benefits of this career is that it keeps individuals fit and healthy throughout their working life.
A love for outdoors
Furthermore, enjoying working outdoors is essential, whatever the weather may present. In addition, bricklayers often have to work on high buildings and structures, for those with fears of heights, this would not be an appropriate career route.
Team work skills and independence
In addition, a bricklayer would do well to work in a team, but also be competent enough to work independently, depending on the project. They may have projects where teamwork is essential such as lifting heavy objects. Further, planning and delegating tasks between themselves is essential for productivity, so teamwork would come in useful in this aspect of the job.
On the other hand, there may be times when independent work is a must so they have to be responsible and have confidence in their skills to do well without constant reassurance or supervision.
Skill and precision
Bricklaying requires a great deal of skill and precision so the role would require someone who has great attention to detail. The role can also present many challenges day to day, they could be starting a project that they have never done before but the experience is key for development within this career. The role also requires individuals to be serious about their work and pay full attention, mistakes in building projects could lead to disasters and health and safety hazards.
Health and safety awareness
Bricklaying also requires knowledge in health and safety, this will be part of a bricklaying course, as well as part of a site supervision course at an advanced level. Health and safety procedures and policies are at the forefront of bricklaying and other related professions.
Ability to work long hours
The job role requires individuals to work upwards of 40 hours a week and there may be the potential of overtime. Individuals must be willing to work for long periods of time and give up a lot of their free time to finish deadlines on projects.
Bricklayers need to be patient, building projects can take anywhere between 6 months and years. Those who are inpatient and like tasks to be completed promptly may not enjoy this kind of work or find it stressful.
What is Taught in a Bricklaying Course?
A Level 2 Diploma in Bricklaying or a Level 2 in Trowel Occupations usually encompasses a few of the following:
- Conforming to workplace safety
- Efficient work practices
- Moving and handling resources in the workplace
- Erecting masonry structures
- Brickwork structures
- Practical brickwork solutions
- Spreading mortar and plastering
Alongside compulsory units there are also optional units:
- Maintaining slate and tile roofing
- Installing drainage etc.
A Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills is an introductory course to construction. It is usually taken as a basic entry into the industry. Many complete this before further study.
There are two mandatory units:
- Health and Safety in Construction
- Working in Construction
Other Relevant Courses:
There are also a number of other courses that individuals may choose, for example, introductory bricklaying or advanced bricklaying. Furthermore, there are courses for those who have experience working as a bricklayer but they do not have any formal qualifications. Therefore, a bricklaying course for those with experience, but need an NVQ may be useful. This would be a shorter NVQ course as individuals will not need to learn the whole course content and help them gain the right CSCS card.
Bricklaying is just the beginning for many, it is a step into the construction industry and bigger opportunities. Jobs in the construction industry include construction manager, estimator and architect. Career opportunities that can be directly related to bricklaying are site supervisory and managerial roles.
Site supervisors oversee teams working within the construction sites. They work under the instruction of site managers to ensure the health and safety of workers as well as distribute site tasks according to deadlines, and carry out inspections. Experience of working within a construction site is very valuable in this profession as supervisors need to know how construction sites operate day to day. They also work to eliminate any risks that may occur on the site.
The average salary of a site supervisor is around 40k a year, which would be a considerable step up from construction labourers.
In order to progress into this job profession, it is advisable to undertake a relevant course in Site Supervisory. The College of Contract Management offers a Level 3 Diploma in Site Supervisory. After 2 years of experience working in construction, individuals can take the course. Therefore, a course like this would be the ideal step up from a Level 2 Bricklaying Course and a few years experience. This course is also accredited by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).
The course has a number of modules including Supervising Health Safety and Welfare. For those who want to learn in their free time, they can with this course. It is offered online and can be learnt on weekends and evenings.
Those looking for more career progression after site supervisory roles could study to become a site manager with a Level 4 CIOB Certificate and Diploma in Site Management. Completion of the course qualifies for a CSCS Black Manager card. This would be a big step up from the initial bricklaying course.
Site managers are often responsible for whole sites and even larger projects and schemes. Their role can include: coordinating construction workers, communicating with clients and professionals, writing reports and negotiating contracts. Housing developments and other construction companies usually employ these professionals.
There are two options for the completion of this course. One for applicants with a valid SMSTS certificate, and one without. This is a 5-day site management safety training scheme which focuses on the different processes of construction and how health and safety is to be incorporated. For example, the scheme teaches about risk assessments and the protocol for scaffolding and demolition.
This course 12 units that students must complete for the diploma, here are a few:
- Managing Sustainable Construction
- Contractual and Legal Responsibilities
- Estimating and Measuring Work
The full list can be found here.
The average salary for a site manager is 50-60k. Salary will rise with experience within the role.
Key Skills for Supervisory and Managerial Roles
- Communication skills
- Commercial awareness
- Budget and cost control
- Knowledge of building methods
About the CIOB
The CIOB accredit The College of Contract Management’s Supervisory and Managerial courses. They are a highly influential and professional body for construction management and leadership. They accredit many degrees and courses and have created a Royal Charter to promote the improvement of the practice of construction. To ensure that standards are met in the institute, CIOB members must adhere to a set of rules. They have a number of positions on various areas such as ethics, quality and education. An accredited course, therefore, shows that it is highly reputable and meets particular standards.
Becoming a Chartered Member
Obtaining chartered membership can increase employability. It can create far greater opportunities. There are three different types of membership, a Chartered Member requires 3 years of professional experience. A Chartered Fellow requires 5 years. There is also a student membership which enables individuals to obtain resources and work towards a Chartered Membership in later life. Becoming a member also improves networking opportunities. For example, they hold events such as construction awards with 850 guests and sponsors. These will enable members to find more opportunities for work.
Becoming a member also allows you to be a part of an organisation that has many policy positions. They have policies for ethical standards, reducing modern slavery, improving health and well-being and improving construction standards.
Bricklaying courses are a great way to begin a career within the construction industry. A course provides the building blocks for continued success due to its ability to place individuals in a suitable position to get a high paying job in an in-demand sector. Bricklaying courses are very rewarding and they cover a wealth of ground skills which can be transferable to other professions. A course can also set up individuals for a fantastic route of career progression into site supervising and site management.
With these progressions, it also gives individuals the opportunity to become a chartered member of the CIOB which has fantastic benefits. Finally, bricklaying attracts individuals who are physically fit, work well in a team and have a great deal of patience.