The trade of bricklayer is one of the oldest in the world and remains a valuable skill that can help anyone build an amazing career.
The career: Bricklayer
A bricklayer is a skilled artisan and critical to the building industry. You form the foundation of the construction and building industries and your skills ensure that every part of a home, a business or a structure is solid and stable. It is a versatile role – anyone can learn how to become a bricklayer and you can use your understanding and passion for the craft to build a business, expand your skills into other areas of the construction profession or to strike out on your own as a freelance professional.
A bricklayer builds walls, floors, decks, patios, fireplaces and many other aspects of a building’s structure that require traditional bricks, concrete blocks, and masonry materials. As a bricklayer you will learn how to mix concrete and where to place bricks – tasks that require training and in-depth understanding of materials and types of concrete – as well as how to read blueprints, check specifications, liaise with other team members, and ensure that the layout of the structures are correct. You will need to know:
- Different types of concrete and mixtures
- Different types of brick and sizing
- How to layer and position the bricks to ensure a smooth appearance
- How to cut off excess mortar, fill mortar joints and prevent moisture from getting into the cracks
- How to build in, and for, different weather conditions
- How to tile and apply tiles
- How to plaster walls and screed floors and steps
- How to build decorative masonry, and so much more
The type of person who would thrive in the bricklaying profession will be good at working with other people and communicating, fit and healthy, capable of adapting to challenging environments and groups, flexible and adaptable, and have a natural aptitude for physical work and planning.
According to Payscale, the average accountant salary is R74, 533 per year.
Boost your skills while at school
For anyone interested in improving their skills and improving their chances of really getting the most from their bricklayer training can visit Top Dog for extra training in mathematics across a variety of different grades and levels. Having a strong maths background will give you an excellent foundation in a bricklaying qualification or training course. This skill will allow you to grasp planning information and layout design easily and will support your then leveraging your bricklaying training to build a business in the future.
You can also access the Vodacom e-school portal for free training and education tailored to every grade and they have maths lessons across numerous languages. This means you can learn in your native tongue, making it much easier for you to really hone your maths skills and get great grades. It is highly recommended that you try to finish Matric before you train as a bricklayer as there are numerous other skills you can learn that will help you. Take a look at the Communication modules at Vodacom e-school and the modules that cover planning to really boost your skills and understanding.
Vodacom e-school does ask you to register first but the process is as simple as entering your name, a password of your choosing, and the one-time-pin that they send you. Then select your grade (you can change this at any time) and start learning. Read our comprehensive breakdown of the accountancy profession below to find out which role best suits you and your career aspirations and to help you choose the right subjects at school.
The bricklayer career paths explained
The role of a bricklayer can extend far beyond just putting bricks and mortar together to create remarkable structures. Once qualified you can become a bricklayer, a block layer or a paver, or you can expand your skill sets to become a construction foreman, carpenter, glazier, building insulation installer, or even a bricklayer trainer. You can use various training programmes to grow your skill sets, allowing for you to move into areas of the construction industry that really appeal to you as a person.
The South African Qualifications Authority provides a very succinct breakdown of the skills you gain, the career paths you can enjoy and the requirements you need when undergoing bricklaying training. It is highly recommended that you spend some time reading the document as it will help you make an informed choice about this career and ensure you have the right qualifications. For example, if you start out doing Masonry you will then be qualified to do Bricklaying as you need NQF Level 3 to undertake the SAQA bricklaying certification.
However, you can investigate the option of undertaking an apprenticeship programme that will offer you a living stipend so you learn as you earn. There are quite a few of these programmes available to South Africans interested in becoming bricklayers, but it is recommended that you ensure they pay you a small wage and that you are assured of a set skill set when your apprenticeship ends. Always work with certified organisations so you know that the work you are putting in is recognised nationally.
Further information and education institutions:
- The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Bricklaying Occupational Certificate
- The South African Qualifications Authority National Certificate in Construction Masonry
- National African Federation for the Building Industry (NAFBI) offers an apprenticeship programme. You can find out more here and you can contact NAFBI here.
- Services SETA has an apprenticeship programme here
- AIE National Certificate
- Ethekwini Municipality is offering apprenticeships and training
- Ekurhuleni Artisans and Skills Training Centre
- Artisan Training Institute
- Africa Skills
- The Concrete Institute