Becoming a Mason – An Introduction to Stone Masonry
A stone mason is a person who works with the art and science of building, repairing, and constructing buildings. Masonry is the common building material used for the creation of concrete, brick, and stone structures. There are many different types of masonry systems such as walling, flooring, fireplaces, fences, stairways, basements, workshops, factories, storage sheds, plate houses, show rooms, hospitals, private residences, condos, condominiums, industrial spaces, historic sites, museums, offices, public buildings, airports, train stations, and highways. A stone mason designs, builds, repairs, erects, and installs buildings using natural stone, brick, ceramic block insulation, cement blocks, other masonry materials, and fireproofing. Other structures that a stone mason designs or constructs are floors, walls, chimneys, fences, arches, fences, floors, and show rooms.
To become a stone mason you must attend and pass many difficult classes before becoming licensed. Many community colleges offer this program and it can be completed in a little as 12 weeks. Then you will attend an apprenticeship where you will learn the trade in classroom instruction and hands on experience in a one-on-one supervised apprenticeship. Upon completion of your apprenticeship you will receive your license and become eligible to become a stone mason. Some states do not require an apprenticeship but must certify you in the practical use of masonry skills.
After receiving your license as a stone mason, you will have to register with your state labor board and obtain necessary credentials. Most states require that stone masons have at least two years of work experience under their belt. You will also need to complete a test in order to verify your knowledge of masonry and get certified. The National Association of Certified Masonry Engineers and Contractors is a great resource for certification exams. Once your training is complete you will then be able to take the test that will qualify you for licensing. Many states require that your apprenticeship program also be accredited by this organization so that you know that you are getting someone with legitimate knowledge.
Once you are licensed you will want to gain work experience so that you are better prepared for the job market. There are many ways to do this including working as an assistant stone mason, being a journeyman stone mason, or starting your own business. Many people start small and build up their business with work experience. Working as an assistant stone mason will give you a jump start on building your reputation. Journeyman stone masons usually have a contract that will outline their duties and include work hours.
Many stone mason designs are marble based. These stones are ground before being used in construction projects. To create these marble products, masons use natural sand and other earthy materials. These stones are fired at high temperatures so that they bond chemically with the mortar. After this bonding process is complete the stones are ready for installation. Other stone products may use river rocks and engineered clays that have to be mixed with mortar.
Working as a stone mason is a challenging and rewarding career. You can choose to be a journeyman or master stonemason depending on the type of apprenticeship you obtain. Journeymen perform less hands-on work but are more important to stone builders. Master stonemasons are responsible for the design and creation of structures and stone products. To become a master stonemason you must be licensed and attend continuing education courses to keep your license current.