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Become A Cement Mason Apprentice

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Working As A Cement Mason Apprentice

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • $70,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Cement Mason Apprentice Do

Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete blocks, concrete, and natural and manmade stones to build walls, walkways, fences, and other masonry structures.

Duties

Masons typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or drawings to calculate materials needed
  • Lay out patterns, forms, or foundations according to plans
  • Break or cut materials to required size
  • Mix mortar or grout and spread it onto a slab or foundation
  • Clean excess mortar with trowels and other hand tools
  • Construct corners with a corner pole or by building a corner pyramid
  • Align structure vertically and horizontally
  • Clean and polish surfaces with hand or power tools
  • Fill expansion joints with the appropriate caulking materials

Masonry materials are some of the most common and durable materials used in construction. Brick, block, and stone structures can last for hundreds of years. Concrete—a mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and water—is the foundation for everything from decorative patios and floors to huge dams or miles of roadways.

Brickmasons and blockmasons—often called bricklayers—build and repair walls, floors, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys, and other structures with brick, terra cotta, precast masonry panels, concrete block, and other masonry materials. Pointing, cleaning, and caulking workers are brickmasons who repair brickwork, particularly on older structures on which mortar has come loose. Refractory masons are brickmasons who specialize in installing firebrick, gunite, castables, and refractory tile in high-temperature boilers, furnaces, cupolas, ladles, and soaking pits in industrial establishments.

Cement masons and concrete finishers place and finish concrete. They may color concrete surfaces, expose aggregate (small stones) in walls and sidewalks, or make concrete beams, columns, and panels. Throughout the process of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete, cement masons must monitor how the wind, heat, or cold affects the curing of the concrete. They must have a thorough knowledge of the characteristics of concrete so that they can determine what is happening to the concrete and take measures to prevent defects. Some small jobs may require the use of a supportive wire mesh called lath. On larger jobs, reinforcing iron and rebar workers install the reinforcing mesh.

Segmental pavers—also referred to as patio pavers—install interlocking masonry walkways, driveways, and patios. Workers need to prepare the site carefully to ensure the masonry units connect properly without gaps or ridges.

Stonemasons build stone walls, as well as set stone exteriors and floors. They work with two types of stone: natural-cut stone, such as marble, granite, and limestone; and artificial stone, made from concrete, marble chips, or other masonry materials. Using a special hammer or a diamond-blade saw, workers cut stone to make various shapes and sizes. Some stonemasons specialize in setting marble, which is similar to setting large pieces of stone.

Terrazzo workers and finishers, also known as terrazzo masons, create decorative walkways, floors, patios, and panels. Much of the terrazzo preliminary work of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete is similar to that of cement masons. Epoxy terrazzo requires less base preparation and is significantly thinner when completed. Terrazzo workers create decorative finishes by blending fine marble chips into the epoxy or cement, which is often colored. Once the terrazzo is thoroughly set, workers correct any depressions or imperfections with a grinder to create a smooth, uniform finish. Terrazzo workers also install decorative toppings and/or polishing compounds to new or existing concrete.

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How To Become A Cement Mason Apprentice

Most masons have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn either on the job or through an apprenticeship program. Others learn through masonry programs at technical schools.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for most masons. High school courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and vocational education are considered useful.

Many technical schools offer programs in basic masonry. These programs operate both independently and in conjunction with apprenticeship training. The credits earned as part of an apprenticeship program usually count toward an associate’s degree. Some people take courses before being hired, and some take them later as part of on-the-job training.

Training

A 3- to 4-year apprenticeship is how most masons learn the trade. For each year of the program, apprentices must complete at least 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. In the future, apprenticeships are expected to focus more on proven competencies than time-in-training and therefore the duration of apprenticeships may decrease.

Apprentices learn construction basics such as blueprint reading; mathematics, including measurement, volume, and mixing proportions; building code requirements; and safety and first-aid practices. 

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

Some contractors have their own training programs for masons. Although workers may enter apprenticeships directly, some masons start out as construction helpers. The Home Builders Institute and the International Masonry Institute offer pre-apprenticeship training program for eight construction trades, including masonry.

After completing an apprenticeship program, masons are considered journey workers and are able to perform tasks on their own.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Terrazzo workers must be able to distinguish between small variations in color when setting terrazzo patterns in order to produce the best looking finish.

Hand-eye coordination. Workers must be able to apply smooth, even layers of mortar, set bricks, and remove any excess before the mortar hardens.

Math skills. Cement masons use their knowledge of math—including measurement, volume, and mixing proportions—when they mix their own mortar.

Physical stamina. Brickmasons must keep a steady pace while setting bricks all day. Although no individual brick is extremely heavy, the constant lifting can be tiring.

Physical strength. Workers must be strong enough to lift more than 50 pounds. They must also carry heavy tools, equipment, and other materials, such as bags of mortar and grout.

Visualization. Stonemasons must be able to see how stones fit together in order to build attractive and stable structures.

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Cement Mason Apprentice Typical Career Paths

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Average Length of Employment
Cement Finisher 5.0 years
Cement Mason 4.1 years
Concrete Finisher 4.0 years
Mason 3.8 years
Concrete Mason 3.4 years
Mason Apprentice 2.8 years
Apprentice 1.9 years
Top Careers Before Cement Mason Apprentice
Cashier 11.3%
Internship 5.7%
Cook 3.8%
Server 3.8%
Stower 3.8%
Carpenter 3.8%
Teller 3.8%
Top Careers After Cement Mason Apprentice
Cashier 13.8%
Cook 6.2%
Technician 4.6%
Sander 3.1%
Porter 3.1%

Do you work as a Cement Mason Apprentice?

Cement Mason Apprentice Demographics

Gender

Male

69.1%

Unknown

16.5%

Female

14.4%
Ethnicity

White

61.7%

Hispanic or Latino

18.3%

Black or African American

10.8%

Asian

5.4%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Cement Mason Apprentice Education

Schools

Skagit Valley College

9.5%

New York University

4.8%

College of Southern Nevada

4.8%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

4.8%

Drake College of Business

4.8%

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

4.8%

Macomb Community College

4.8%

Berks Technical Institute

4.8%

San Diego Job Corps Center

4.8%

Wayne State University

4.8%

Everett Community College

4.8%

University of Phoenix

4.8%

City College of San Francisco

4.8%

Norfolk State University

4.8%

Northern Arizona University

4.8%

Kent State University

4.8%

Bellevue College

4.8%

San Joaquin County Office of Education ROP/C

4.8%

Texas A&M University

4.8%

Fort Scott Community College

4.8%
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Majors

Masonry

23.5%

Criminal Justice

8.8%

Management

5.9%

General Studies

5.9%

Finance

5.9%

Business

5.9%

Property Management

5.9%

Drafting And Design

2.9%

Medical Technician

2.9%

Music

2.9%

Literature

2.9%

Fine Arts

2.9%

Marketing

2.9%

Digital Media

2.9%

Construction Engineering

2.9%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.9%

Health And Wellness

2.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

2.9%

Physics

2.9%
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Degrees

Other

56.4%

Bachelors

15.4%

Certificate

15.4%

Associate

10.3%

Diploma

2.6%
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Top Skills for A Cement Mason Apprentice

  1. Expansion Joints
  2. Decorative Finish
  3. Stone Chips
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Molded expansion joints and edges.
  • Sprinkled colored stone chips, powdered steel and coloring powder on concrete to produce prescribed finish.
  • Finished concrete surfaces with power trowel and wetted and rubbed concrete with abrasive stone to impart finish.
  • Worked with many types of concrete flatwork from broom finish to a decorative stamp or exposed.
  • Helped with cleanup of job site from sweeping to shoveling.

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