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What age can you start brick laying?

Bricklaying is a skilled trade that requires training and experience. While there is no set legal age requirement to start bricklaying, most bricklayers begin during their teenage years as apprentices. Apprenticeships provide supervised on-the-job training paired with classroom instruction, allowing young people to gain experience and skills in bricklaying.

What is the minimum age to start bricklaying?

There is no legal minimum age to start learning and working in bricklaying. However, most apprenticeships require applicants to be at least 16 years old and have completed their compulsory schooling. Some programs may accept students as young as 14 or 15.

The traditional path into bricklaying is through a 3-4 year apprenticeship program. These programs combine paid on-site training under experienced bricklayers along with class-based instruction on topics like construction math, blueprint reading, safety protocols, and masonry techniques. Apprentices start out doing basic tasks and progress to more complex skills and independent work as they gain experience.

While apprentices can start as teenagers, some enter programs in their 20s or later after working in other construction jobs. Older apprentices may advance more quickly due to their previous work experience.

What skills are needed to start bricklaying?

Some key skills needed to start bricklaying include:

  • Physical fitness and stamina
  • Manual dexterity
  • Spatial perception and visualization
  • Ability to follow instructions and diagrams
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving skills

Bricklaying involves hours of physically demanding labor. Apprentices need fitness to lift, position, and lay bricks precisely. Good hand-eye coordination helps manipulate bricks and tools in tight spaces.

Reading plans and turning 2D designs into 3D structures takes spatial skills. Bricklayers also rely heavily on technical drawings and written directions. Math skills are useful for taking measurements and making calculations.

Safety awareness, teamwork, time management, and reliability are also important soft skills for aspiring bricklayers.

What types of training programs are available?

Common pathways into professional bricklaying include:

  • Apprenticeships: Multi-year paid training programs combining on-site and classroom learning. Offered through unions, contractors associations, and some high schools.
  • Vocational programs: Bricklaying courses at technical/trade schools lasting 1-2 years and leading to a certificate or diploma.
  • Informal training: Hands-on training under an experienced bricklayer without a formal apprenticeship structure.
  • College programs: Associates degree programs in bricklaying/masonry at some community colleges and technical institutes.

Apprenticeships are the most comprehensive and preferred path. They ensure trainees learn all aspects of bricklaying over 3-4 years under master bricklayers. Apprentices earn wages while learning on the job.

Typical apprenticeship pathway

A typical apprenticeship involves:

  • Minimum of 144 hours per year of classroom education
  • 2,000-3,000 hours annually of on-site training
  • Progressively advancing skills each year
  • Oversight by experienced journeyman bricklayers
  • Wages starting at 40-50% of a journeyman’s pay

Upon completing an apprenticeship, bricklayers can become certified journeymen. Some go on to become master bricklayers who can train apprentices.

What are typical entry requirements?

Entry requirements vary by program, but common ones include:

  • Being 16+ years old
  • Completing high school or GED program
  • Being physically fit and able to perform manual labor
  • Having basic math, reading, and measurement skills
  • Passing drug screening and background checks
  • Possessing a valid driver’s license

High school courses in math, shop, drafting, physics, and blueprint reading are helpful preparation. Some programs also require taking an aptitude test.

What are key apprenticeship topics?

Apprenticeships cover broad bricklaying fundamentals including:

  • Masonry tools and equipment use
  • Mortar and grout mixing
  • Laying bricks, blocks, stone, and pavers
  • Building single and double wythe walls
  • Laying steps, arches, corners, and bonds
  • Installing chimneys and fireplaces
  • Tuckpointing and repairing masonry
  • Setting reinforcing steel
  • Applying and curing sealants
  • Following safety procedures

Apprentices also learn to interpret drawings and plans, estimate materials, use masonry codes, and inspect work. Business skills like customer service and bidding jobs may be covered as well.

What are typical apprenticeship phases?

Apprenticeships progress through 3-4 years of advancing skill levels:

Phase 1

  • Basic tasks like mixing mortar, moving bricks, and cleaning work areas
  • Use of hand tools like trowels, jointers, levels, line blocks
  • Simple bricklaying under close supervision
  • Bricklaying theory, safety, math, and drawing classes

Phase 2

  • Laying bricks and blocks in simple bonding patterns
  • Building corners, jambs, sills, and steps
  • Introduction to stonework and block archways
  • Handling power tools like brick saws and mixers
  • Intermediate classroom instruction

Phase 3

  • Complex designs, bonds, and architectural details
  • Concrete block laying techniques
  • Chimneys, fireplaces, stone veneers
  • Tuckpointing, repairing, and restoring masonry
  • Supervising newer apprentices
  • Advanced classroom education

Phase 4

  • Full range of residential and commercial masonry
  • Estimating labor, materials, and costs for jobs
  • Quality inspection of finished work
  • Preparing for journeyman certification

This gradual progression allows apprentices to build expertise at each level before advancing.

What are pros and cons of starting young?

Benefits of starting bricklaying as a teenager include:

  • Learning fundamental skills from an early age
  • Gaining hands-on experience quickly through apprenticeship
  • Having flexibility to change careers paths later if desired
  • Earning wages and developing work ethic as a youth
  • Immersing yourself in industry culture and norms
  • Establishing professional contacts early in career
  • Finishing training at age 20+ with many working years ahead

Potential drawbacks include:

  • Missing further general education by starting bricklaying early
  • Entering a physically demanding trade while still developing physically
  • Having less choice in career direction at a young age
  • Dealing with hazardous equipment and materials before maturing
  • Possibility of age discrimination on work sites

Overall, starting bricklaying as a teenager is common and allows focused development in the trade. But apprentices must receive proper supervision and safety training.

How long does it take to become a qualified bricklayer?

The typical timeline to become a fully qualified, skilled bricklayer is:

  • 1-2 years: Complete high school and prepare for apprenticeship program
  • 3-4 years: Complete bricklaying apprenticeship
  • ~1 year: Work as journeyman under supervision
  • 5-7 years total: Reach level of experienced bricklayer

This assumes starting an apprenticeship at 16-18 years old. Those entering the trade later may catch up quicker due to maturity and previous construction experience.

After becoming a journeyman, thousands of hours of practical work experience over 1-2 years is typical before bricklayers gain the speed, efficiency, skill, and confidence of veteran bricklayers.

What about college and other training programs?

Bricklayers can be trained through shorter college and vocational programs. However, apprenticeships remain the most thorough and effective path. Benefits of apprenticeships versus college programs include:

Apprenticeships College Programs
3-4 years of paid on-the-job training 1-2 years of mostly classroom instruction
Guaranteed job placement through union or employer Must seek job independently after completing program
Training under seasoned professionals Taught by instructors who may lack real-world experience
Apprentices earn wages from day one Students pay tuition and fees, go into debt
Join industry networks and contacts Must build contacts independently after graduating
Mastery of full scope of bricklaying Focused on classroom theory over functional skills

An associate’s degree in masonry or construction adds management and business knowledge. But most bricklayers are trained through apprenticeship programs.

What about bricklaying for older career switchers?

It’s certainly possible for those switching careers later in life to become bricklayers. Here are some considerations for older new bricklayers:

  • May take 1-2 years off apprenticeship length if switching from construction field
  • Previous work experience is valued and can offset age by employers
  • Must assess physical ability to meet demands of trade
  • May advance to foreman/supervisor roles more quickly
  • Can market reliability, maturity, attention to detail to employers
  • May need to accept lower wages initially if changing fields
  • Have shorter working lifespan left to gain experience

Pre-apprenticeship bricklaying courses at community colleges can help career changers prepare. Older apprentices can emphasize their transferable skills.


While there is no set legal age requirement, most bricklayers get started through apprenticeship programs beginning around age 16-18 after completing high school. Adult career changers can also enter the trade, often moving through training more quickly. Bricklaying requires multiple years of on-the-job learning to gain proficiency. Starting at a younger age allows more time to build expertise before physical abilities decline. But a motivated apprentice of any age can successfully learn the trade when given proper training and opportunity.