Bricklayers are a vital profession in the construction industry, responsible for laying bricks, pre-cut stone and concrete blocks in mortar. They construct, extend and repair domestic and commercial buildings, and other structures such as foundations, walls, chimneys or decorative masonry. Getting to the end of a project and being able to say ‘I built that’ offers a real sense of achievement for brickies.

Here we will explore what bricklaying apprenticeships offer, the different kinds of apprenticeships, the skills and experience it allows you develop, future career progression opportunities and much more.

What are bricklaying apprenticeships?

If you’re thinking about becoming a bricklayer, a bricklaying apprenticeship is one of the best routes into the trade. An apprenticeship in bricklaying sets you up with on the job experience as well as classroom learning, a wage and nationally recognised qualifications at the end of your programme. You will develop essential skills that can open many doors for you in the rewarding world of working in construction.

You can find out more about apprenticeships here.

How do bricklaying apprenticeships work?

Your time as a bricklaying apprentice will typically be split between your employer and training provider (such as a college), with at least 20% of your normal working hours spent on training. Your training might happen every week, every month or in a separate block of time, and it can take place at your place of work, at your training provider or online. Your training provider will typically tell you when and where your training will be.

When you do your apprenticeship in bricklaying, your experience will depend on your place of work. Working as an apprentice bricklayer in a company that builds homes from scratch will lead to a differing experience to working with a firm that focuses on renovations. However, the great thing about bricklaying apprenticeships is that wherever you work, you will learn the same nationally recognised skills and behaviours whilst gaining a knowledge of the wider construction industry, too.

Also, there’s much more to bricklaying apprenticeships that laying bricks – you will learn many more vital skills and competencies which we will explore later, as well as core knowledge of a building site that can be applied throughout construction.

How long is a bricklaying apprenticeship?

Typically, bricklaying apprenticeships take between 24 – 30 months, although this depends on the level of qualification, training provider, and sometimes, employer.

Although, that’s not always the case, Barratt’s fast-track Trade Apprenticeship lasts 18 months – you can read more about it here.

How much do I earn as a bricklaying apprentice?

As a bricklaying apprentice, you are entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage – the levels of this depend on your age.

You are paid for:

  • Your normal working hours
  • Training that’s part of your apprenticeship
  • Study towards maths and English qualifications, if they’re part of your apprenticeship.

Also, you are entitled to at least the minimum holiday (annual leave) allowance – at least 20 days per year plus Bank Holidays.

What types of bricklaying apprenticeship are available?

Traineeship – level 1 in bricklaying

If you have little to no qualifications or work experience, a traineeship in bricklaying could be ideal for you. Construction traineeships are designed to be the first step on the ladder towards a career in construction, offering young people the skills and confidence they need for the world of work. Although they do differ from apprenticeships:

  • Last between 6 weeks and 12 months
  • Develop employability and digital skills as well as maths and English
  • A work placement lasting a minimum of 70 hours.

To be eligible you must:

  • Be aged 18 – 24
  • Be eligible to work in the UK
  • Be unemployed and have little to no work experience
  • Have no qualifications above GCSEs.

You can find out more about construction traineeships here.

Level 2 bricklayer apprenticeship standard 

Level 2 apprenticeship in bricklaying is the standard qualification and nationally recognised and sought after by employers.

  • Takes 24 – 30 months to complete, although if you have completed bricklaying courses previously or have relevant experience, this can be reduced
  • If you haven’t already achieved this, you will need to complete Level 1 in maths in English (this can be done during your apprenticeship), and also complete Level 2 before you complete your programme
  • Completion of the apprenticeship means you will meet the requirements for a CSCS card to work safely on site.

Discover what a day in the life of an apprentice bricklayer looks like here.

Level 3 bricklaying apprenticeships

It is possible to further develop your skills and take a level 3 apprenticeship in bricklaying:

  • First, you must have completed Level 2 bricklaying apprenticeship
  • Typically lasts 24 months
  • On completion, you will be awarded an Advanced Diploma in Bricklaying and a Level 3 NVQ in bricklaying.

Level 3 (or advanced) is equivalent to two A Levels, and many go on to specialise in a particular area of brickwork such as heritage, or even go to university.

What will you learn during a bricklaying apprenticeship?

There is much more to life as a bricklayer than laying bricks – let’s explore what other vital skills you will achieve during your bricklaying apprenticeship:

Health and safety

Health and safety hazards, current regulations and legislation, and the importance of method statements. Codes of practice and safe working practices, including asbestos awareness and correct use of PPE.

Customer service

The principles of high quality customer service. Gaining and keeping a valued reputation in industry with clients, colleagues and industry representatives such as suppliers and manufacturers.

Communication

Different communication methods. How to communicate in a clear, articulate and appropriate manner. How to adapt communication style to different situations.

Buildings

Different eras, types of construction methods, insulation considerations, sustainability, facilities management, fire, moisture and air protection.

Energy efficiency

The importance and considerations of thermal qualities, airtightness and ventilation to buildings.

Materials

Types of materials, their uses and their value. Cost awareness and environmental considerations/waste awareness e.g. surface water management and recycling.

Alternative construction techniques

Modern methods of construction, rapid build technology, alternative block, masonry, steel and timber based cladding systems.

Radial and battered brickwork

Set out and build brickwork, including complex arches and surrounding brickwork, curved on plan, concave and convex brickwork and battered brickwork.

Feature and reinforced brickwork

Set out and build brickwork, including complex decorative features, obtuse/acute angle quoins and reinforced brickwork.

Fireplaces and chimneys

Select materials and resources required to set out and build fireplaces and chimneys using materials such as hearths, plinths, flue liners, chimney pots and other modern methods. 

Future prospects and career progression

Those who have completed an apprenticeship in bricklaying have a bright future ahead of them. Qualified bricklayers are highly sought after in the construction industry, so you will be in high demand from employers. Whether you want to work on large housing developments, commercial renovations or heritage brickwork – a bricklaying apprenticeship will open many doors. And it offers an average salary of upwards of £40,000, too.

Many go on to set up their own business in bricklaying or become a site supervisor to train up other apprentice bricklayers, or specialise in other sections such as stonemasonry.

How to apply for a bricklaying apprenticeship

To apply for a bricklaying apprenticeship, head over to the government’s apprenticeship service to start your journey.

Find out more about the role of a bricklayer

For more information about a bricklayer, check out the job role on Go Construct here.