Stonemasons are similar to bricklayers, working with natural stone to build walls, floors, and exteriors of structures. The three most common ways to become a stonemason are through on-the-job training, trade or vocational training, or through an apprenticeship. It is important to note that the stonemasonry field generally involves manual labor and outdoor work, so individuals seeking these types of positions should be comfortable with these working conditions.
On-the-job training is one of the most typical ways to become a stonemason. Working alongside a trained stonemason builds knowledge of the job. Many stonemasons start out working as an assistant to an experienced stonemason. Duties for beginners may include carrying material, mixing mortar, and moving scaffolds. Gradually, assistants will learn to spread mortar, set stone, or lay brick. As they gain experience, they may be given the opportunity to work on the job as a stonemason.
Many people can learn to become a stonemason through trade or vocational schools. These type of schools generally offer introductory courses in stonemasonry, as well as courses that discuss more specific information such as working with limestone. Oftentimes, the courses thoroughly teach the students about the tools, equipment, and other materials used on the job. Students are usually assigned small projects in which they can put what they have learned into practice.
Apprenticeship programs are a useful way to become a stonemason, and may be more thorough than other types of training. These multi-year programs are commonly sponsored by local contractors, unions, or industry groups. They generally require several years of on-the-job training as well as extensive classroom instruction time. The classroom instruction may include subjects such as sketching, reading blue prints, and layout work.
Apprenticeship programs may include age and health requirements. They generally prefer that applicants have acquired a high school diploma, although this may not always be necessary. Previous courses in mathematics and sketching may be beneficial to an individual seeking an apprenticeship in this field.
Many companies and contractors seeking to hire stonemasons choose to hire from apprenticeship programs because of the skills and experience taught. Job seekers who have completed apprenticeships may be more likely to successfully find positions in the field. Some may go on to start their own stonemasonry companies.
Most stonemasons work outdoors, and work can involve strenuous lifting of heavy materials. Physical fitness is important to the field. Stonemasons may choose to join labor unions specific to their fields. Many see this craft as an art form.