Bricklaying is a solid trade; built on a good foundation. (Is that too corny?) It's certainly a trade where apprentices can build themselves up brick-by-brick. Okay, all puns aside, the opportunities for bricklayers in British Columbia are significant but it's a smaller trade than you might expect.
By the year 2015, it is expected that BC will be home to 2,340 bricklayers, meaning that there is only 10% the number of bricklayers as there are carpenters in BC. More than 1,000 of these bricklayers will be located in the Lower Mainland.
The growth rate for the occupation is quite healthy. Over the next five years, it's expected that we will see the number of bricklayers needed in British Columbia expand by 2.1%; mirroring the projected growth rate for many of the most popular construction occupations.
The greatest growth will occur on Vancouver Island and in BC's interior. On the Island, the bricklaying occupation is expected to grow by more than 4%. The greatest growth will occur in Northwest BC, where the current workforce of 30 bricklayers is expected to grow to more than 50 thanks to a large number of energy and construction projects.
Reviewing the job postings, it appears clear that bricklaying jobs are typically full-time although they can be temporary, relying on one construction project after another. The current wage for a bricklayer in British Columbia is typically $25 per hour, with the opportunity of earning $35 per hour if an individual is willing to relocate to very small resource-based communities or another province.
Masonry, is a difficult trade and individuals should think carefully to determine if it's a good personal fit. A bricklayer can be expected to regularly lift rocks, bricks and cement weighing as much as 30 kilograms and often masons will work on scaffolding rising up 10 metres; or three floors.
Possibly due to the physical demands or the work environment, a very small percentage of bricklayers are women. When we recently analyzed glaziers we found that 3% of workers are women but with bricklayers the number is just 1%.
There's little doubt that with retirements and emerging construction projects, anyone choosing to pursue a bricklaying (mason) apprenticeship should enjoy good opportunities. And while the labour market forecast is strong, individuals should just be careful, with the work environment, physical demands and locations of employment, that this is a good personal fit.