Bricklayer in Paoua, Central African Republic

A bricklayer or mason is a tradesman who lays bricks to construct brickwork. The term also refers to personnel who use blocks to construct blockwork walls and other forms of masonry.[1] In British and Australian English, a bricklayer is colloquially known as a "brickie".

The training of a trade in European cultures has been a formal tradition for many centuries. A tradesman typically begins in an apprenticeship, working for and learning from a master craftsman, and after a number of years is released from his master's service to become a journeyman. After a journeyman has proven himself to his trade's guild (most guilds are now known by different names), he may settle down as a master craftsman and work for himself, eventually taking on his own apprentices.

A notable person who laid bricks (as a hobby) was Sir Winston Churchill.

Bricklayers in the UKEdit

The modern process can be different. A tradesman still begins as an apprentice, but the apprenticeship is carried out partly through working for a qualified tradesman and partly through an accredited technical college delivering level one, two and three brickwork qualifications to learners (in the UK). These come in a variety of forms; City and Guilds, Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced Construction Awards and site-based NVQ Levels one to three. After about two years college, the learner/worker is ready for site as an improver having attained level two, and works under guidance until he or she is well-rounded in the craft. From start to finish it takes at least four years, and even then there is still more to be learned; modern construction methods are always developing, and a typical brickie will be expected to turn his or her hand to allied trades. Fully qualified doesn't mean expert, which is why employment ads often state 'must have ten years experience in the trade' - a longer learning curve than a junior doctor.

Bricklayers in GermanyEdit

The German word for a bricklayer is Maurer. In Germany bricklaying is one of the most traditional trades.


The young bricklayer starts his career as a Lehrling (apprentice). From a Meister (master craftsmen) he learns the skills necessary for the trade. He also goes to Berufsschule (vocational school). There he learns the more theoretical stuff.

The training takes three years. After that there is an examination by the Innung (guild). The apprentice must show that he is able to construct masonry, knows how to protect a house from humidity, knows about thermal insulation, knows about construction material science and about occupational health and safety. If the apprentice is successful he will be rewarded with the Gesellenbrief (journeymans's certificate). He will be able to call himself Geselle (journeyman) now.

After that the journeyman may choose to go on the Walz. The Walz, also called Stör or Tippelei are the journey years of the traditional tradesmen. For this purpose he may join a Schacht. The most important Schächte (plural form of Schacht) are as follows:

1. Rechtschaffene Fremde (righteous journeymen)

The members of this Schacht wear a black Ehrbarkeit (Ehrbarkeit will be explained later). That is why they are called the blacks. They are more than 200 years old. The members of this Schacht have a secret ceremonial. It is not allowed to describe the ceremonial, but people say that its content and language are of great beauty. This Schacht is very near to the Unions and many of its members are members of the unions as well. A journey with this Schacht takes three years.

2. Fremder Freiheitsschacht (best translated with Freedom-Schacht of the journeymen)

This Schacht was founded on Mayday of 1910 by the famous bricklayer Hermann Schäfer. The wear a red Ehrbarkeit and are called the reds. Their maxim is "Wir alle seins Brüder, wir alle seins gleich" (dialect: we all are brothers, we all are the same). They call each other Bruderherz (dear brother).

3. Rolandschacht (Schacht of Saint Roland)

The wear a blue Ehrbarkeit and are called the blue ones. Their maxim is "Treue, Freundschaft, Brüderlichkeit, vereint uns Rolandsbrüder alle Zeit" (loyalty and friendship and brotherhood will unite us brothers of Roland all the time)

After his journey years the craftsmen is allowed to become a Einheimischer (To settle himself down), but he will only allowed to do so, if he behaved respectable on his journey (the role of respectabily will be discussed later).

A man who has many years of experience in his trade will be allowed to become a master. He will have an exam again. In this exam he will show that he is an expert of his trade. He also must show that he can work with other people well and has some knowledge of pedagogy, because as a master he will be allowed to educate younger bricklayers.

If he did well in the exam he will be rewarded with the Meisterbrief (master craftmen's diploma) by the chamber of crafts.

As a master he will be allowed to start his own construction company.

Bricklayers in FictionEdit

In several novels and short stories by Italian-American author, John Fante, hod carriers, bricklayers, and stone masons feature prominently (perhaps most notably in his debut novel "Wait Until Spring, Bandini," "Brotherhood of the Grape," and "The Orgy"--one half of the posthumously released collection "West of Rome"). This is due to the highly autobiographical nature of much of Fante's writing. Fante's father, Nick, was an Italian-born bricklayer descended from--at least in Fante's fictions--a long line of Italian artisan bricklayers and stonemasons. Moreover, the author spent a significant portion of his youth apprenticed to his father, experience that lent him the knowledge to write accurately about various details of the trade: from descriptions of the actual work, the physical toll it took on workers, the color and character of those workers, and the pride and satisfaction of a job well done. Because Fante looked up to his father (despite their numerous quarrels and fallings-out) he thus held the trade in very high regard, at times verging on romanticizing the quite difficult work it took. To him, bricklaying (and hod carrying) was something that ennobled poorer classes; it was a respectable manual labor that required a degree of artfulness, and was a manly occupation.

Bricklayers in German poetryEdit

  • Armin Berg: "Der gewissenhafte Maurer"

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Zunft-Clothing of the german bricklayersEdit


  1. Richard T. Kreh (2003). Masonry Skills. Thomson Delmar Learning. ISBN 0766859363. 

es:Albañil eo:Masonisto fr:Maçon ga:Bríceadóir gl:Albanel it:Muratore lmo:Magüt nl:Metselaar pl:Murarz pt:Pedreiro scn:Mastru muraturi fi:Muurari sv:Murare uk:Муляр

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