Stonemason Job Description
Stonemasons shape rough pieces of rock into the geometrical shapes needed to build or repair stone structures like floors, walls, and piers.
Stonemasons work with many different types of stone, such as granite, marble, sandstone, and limestone. They also work with artificial stone made from concrete, marble chips, and other materials.
To shape and place the stones, stonemasons use hammers, mallets, wedges, compressed air drills, chisels, and trowels. When the stones are placed, masons spread and smooth mortar between the stones. When it dries, the mortar holds the stones in place.
Sometimes the stones that stonemasons work with are pre-cut, while other times they must be cut to the exact size specified in a blueprint. Cutting stone is physically demanding, and takes many years to perfect.
Like many jobs in the construction industry, precision is incredibly important for stonemasons. A small error can cause complications in a project. A background in math (particularly geometry) can be extremely helpful on the job.
Work Environment and Schedule
Most of the work that stonemasons do is done outdoors, so the quality of their working days is highly dependent on the weather. Cold or rainy weather can delay projects and prevent work from being done. In especially cold or wet environments, stonemasons may only be able to reliably work during certain times of the year.
Because they’re dependent on weather, stonemasons normally take advantage of good weather when it arrives. This can mean working long hours or weekends.
This is a very physically demanding occupation. Stonemasons have to lift and transport heavy pieces of stone, which can lead to injury. Though it’s impossible to remove the risk of injury altogether, remaining in good physical shape can help reduce the risk.
The majority of stonemasons work full time. Construction is a very deadline-driven industry, so working long hours is often required to complete projects on time.
Many stonemasons are self-employed, which can provide a little more flexibility in their work schedule. However, their schedule is still largely determined by the demands of their clients. Many clients have full time jobs, and are only able to meet on nights and weekends.
How to Become a Stonemason
Some stonemasons learn their trade through informal on the job training, but most learn through an apprenticeship.
Stonemason apprenticeships last between three and four years. Each year, apprentices have to complete 2,000 hours of paid on the job training, as well as 144 hours of technical classroom training. During their apprenticeship, apprentices stonemasons learn building code requirements, first aid, blueprints, and the mathematics required to do their jobs.
To get an apprenticeship you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.
Some people choose to take classes at a technical or community college instead of getting an apprenticeship. Many technical colleges offer courses in masonry that last about a year. These courses do a good job at preparing students for an entry level job as a mason.
If you’re still in high school and you’re thinking about pursuing a career as a stonemason, taking math, mechanical drawing, and shop classes can help prepare you.
There are currently 15,600 stonemasons in the United States, with 890 new stonemason job openings created each year.
Stonemason jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Stonemason salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most stonemasons make between $28,300 – $47,400 per year, or $13.58 – $22.77 per hour.