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With Britain’s Brexit and COVID-related skills shortages biting, trade jobs are great choices for anyone looking for a new role. If you’re looking for a job in the trades but unsure which specialism you want to train in though, consider bricklaying.

According to the Federation of Master Builders Q4 2020 survey, bricklayers were one of the trades most experiencing a lack of skilled staff. That makes it a great choice, but what exactly do they do and how can you start a career as one?

What does a bricklayer do?

Bricklayers are, as their name implies, responsible for building and repairing brick-built structures such as homes, walls, and chimneys. They also refurbish decorative stonework, such as that in back gardens, and can also specialise in restoration projects, utilising traditional forms of bricklaying to bring older structures back to how they looked in their heyday.

How much can you earn?

Bricklayers earn a good amount. According to Jobted, the average bricklayer salary in the UK is £31,800 per year (£13.80 net per hour), or £2,200 (7%) greater than the UK national average. The range of salaries goes from around £22,500 to £50,000, depending on experience and years of service. Go Construct gives a range of £17,000 to £40,000, again based on expertise. Regardless, if you’re looking for a well-paying trade job, these tidy sums make bricklaying a great choice.

What skills do you need?

Bricklayers are a crucial role in the construction industry. Their skills affect the quality and appearance of the overall project, and a lack of ability can result in poorly made or dangerous structures being erected.

In basic terms, this means you will need a good level of fitness, practical mindset and an eye for accuracy. Working well as part of a larger crew is also a must, as well as the ability to precisely follow technical building plans to the letter and measuring the work area accordingly. You’ll also need to take heed of health and safety protocols – failure to follow them could lead to you being ejected from the job.

Technical skills include the ability to apply and remove mortar, laying various patterns of bricks and understanding which are best for the part of the task at hand, and a knowledge of ornamental bricklaying styles and ow to create them.

What equipment will you need?

Since most bricklayers work a variety of short-term contracts organised through construction agencies, you will need to get together a group of quality tools.

The most important of these are trowels. These are small hand tools used across a variety of industries for digging or moving small amounts of particulate materials, applying viscous materials such as plaster or cement, and smoothing surfaces of particulate and viscous materials. Trowels are traditionally used in masonry, concrete, and drywall-based construction tsks – making them a crucial tool in the bricklayer’s arsenal.

PPE (such as a mask, gloves, steel-toe-capped boots, and a hard hat, are also very important, as well as a spirit level, for levelling brickwork; a brick bat gauge, for cutting bricks; and various hammers and chisels.

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