June 21, 2023

Masonry: A Timeless Craft That’s Built to Last

From legendary ancient structures to modern architectural wonders, masonry has literally shaped the world around us for centuries. Maybe at some point, you’ve gone down the masonry rabbit hole on TikTok or have stopped to watch professional bricklayers in action. If that sounds like you, then a masonry career might be calling your name.  

Let’s explore what a mason’s job entails, how much money they make, and how to pursue it as a career. 


Masonry is all about building structures using individual units (bricks, stones, blocks, etc.) that are held together with mortar. Masons are skilled craftspeople who create homes, commercial buildings, bridges, and historical landmarks, among other structures. Their work requires precision and real attention to detail, combining creative vision with technical expertise. 


To be a mason is to have physical dexterity and a meticulous eye. Their daily responsibilities include interpreting blueprints, measuring and cutting materials, mixing mortar, laying bricks, concrete block or stones, and sometimes applying finishing touches like stucco. They use trowels, chisels, levels, and scaffolding to make sure precision and safety dictate the construction process. 


A mason’s pay reflects their own specialized skill set and expertise. According to recent data, for example, the national average wage for masons is just over $52,000 a year ($25 dollars/hour), with some experienced professionals earning more than $70K, depending on location, experience, and specialization. Great news: The demand for masons remains steady, so it’s a reliable career option.  


To become a skilled mason, you’ll usually pursue some combo of formal education and on-the-job training. Many aspiring masons choose to pursue vocational training programs, apprenticeships, or associate degrees in masonry. These training programs offer a great foundation in masonry fundamentals, including techniques, safety protocols, and industry-specific knowledge. Apprenticeships, meanwhile, offer important hands-on experience guided by experienced mentors — it’s a great way for aspiring masons to refine their skills and gain practical expertise. 


The masonry industry values people who have attention to detail, a strong work ethic, and a passion for hands-on work. There are other important traits that’ll also suit you well here, including stamina, patience, and the ability to work effectively in a team. And if you have a creative flair or a knack for design, even better — chances are you’ll be in higher demand. 


Arizonans who want to pursue masonry have some key resources at their disposal. A big one, for example, is the Arizona Masonry Council (AMC).  

AMC’s mission is to reinforce the reputation of masonry systems among public and private owners, developers, architects, engineers, general contractors, and the general public. How does that relate to you? Education and workforce development are among AMC’s key pillars; they dedicate considerable resources to help folks who are starting their masonry careers or just want to learn more. 

For example, AMC’s high school outreach program regularly books events across Arizona. These events include one-to-four-week hands-on training programs at various schools, where students learn masonry skills one step at a time. In fact, some recent schools ended their training time with a pizza party — cooked in brick ovens that the students themselves made! 

Further down the pipeline, AMC has certification programs (ex: contractor certification) workforce development programs (ex: machine operation, leadership, OSHA) and even English classes that are tailored to the masonry industry. Basically, if you want to become a mason, AMC has a lot of the stuff you need to make it happen.  


“It’s a tight-knit community,” said Dawn Rogers, AMC’s executive director, during a recent interview with Build Your Future Arizona. “And masonry buildings are timeless, right? So to be able to build a masonry project, regardless of what it is, you’ll be able to go and show your children that you built this. You can always make that case, that this is something that’s going to be here for a long, long time.” 

With steady demand, numerous opportunities for pay increases, and ample room for creativity, this is work that stands the test of time. Indeed, there’s a lot to love about a masonry career. And thanks to local resources like the Arizona Masonry Council and Build Your Future Arizona, now is a great time to start building a masonry career. Let’s do it together. 

The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s Construction Workforce Initiative, Build Your Future Arizona’s mission is to create a sustainable and skilled craft workforce by creating awareness about high-paying construction careers, training opportunities and mapping career paths to employment in these high-demand occupations.