Essential skills profile
This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).
Bricklayers lay brick, concrete block, stone and other similar materials to construct or repair walls, arches, chimneys, fireplaces and other structures in accordance with blueprints and specifications.
Help - Reading
- Read brief notes from co-workers, e.g. read notes from supervisors to
learn about worksite safety hazards. (1)
- Read short text entries on a variety of forms, e.g. read comments on
job orders. (1)
- Read brochures and flyers from manufacturers and suppliers to learn
about tools, equipment and masonry materials. (2)
- Read instructions, e.g. read instructions for the preparation of building
materials, such as mortar, and the use of power tools. (2)
- Read workplace safety materials, e.g. read Material Safety Data Sheets
(MSDS) to understand the chemical composition of products and possible hazards.
- Read inspection reports, e.g. read comments written by building inspectors
to learn about the outcomes of inspections and required changes. (2)
- May read magazine and website articles to stay current on industry trends
and broaden their knowledge of bricklaying techniques and materials. (3)
- May read detailed proposals and tenders, e.g. read proposals and tenders
to learn about construction projects and information, such as material and engineering
- Read regulations and bylaws, e.g. read building codes, job specifications
and bylaws to learn about required materials, ties, bonding agents, mortar strengths
and clearances. (4)
Help - Document use
- Scan a variety of symbols and icons, e.g. Workplace Hazardous Materials
Information System (WHMIS) symbols to understand hazards associated with products.
- Complete a variety of checklists and forms, e.g. complete hazard assessment
forms and time sheets by checking boxes and entering data, such as dates, times
and quantities. (1)
- Study construction schedules, e.g. scan mill shutdown schedules to determine
the timing of refractory work (specialized brick work in ovens and furnaces).
- Locate data in tables, e.g. locate data, such as dimensions, classifications,
times and quantities, in specification tables. (2)
- Study critical path charts to determine task durations and project due
- Study assembly drawings, e.g. scan drawings of arches and fireplaces
to determine how to install bricks and components. (3)
- Study scale drawings, e.g. study complex construction drawings to establish
material requirements and project specifications. (4)
Help - Writing
- Write reminder notes to themselves and co-workers, e.g. write notes
to labourers outlining work required. (1)
- Write short comments on forms, e.g. write short notes to identify fall
hazards and excavations on hazard-assessment forms. (1)
- May write estimates, e.g. provide written details about construction
processes and materials on quotes and estimates. (2)
- May write reports to describe events leading up to workplace accidents,
e.g. write about injuries and events when completing reports for workers'
compensation boards. (2)
- May write proposals, e.g. write proposals outlining project details
in response to requests for proposals and public tenders. (3)
Help - Numeracy
- May receive cash, debit and credit card payments and make change. (1)
- Measure the length, height and width of building materials and structures.
- Compare measurements of walls and other masonry components to specifications
outlined in work orders and scale drawings. (1)
- Calculate amounts for mixtures, e.g. use ratios to figure out the amount
of water and cement needed to mix a specified amount of mortar. (2)
- Calculate the average time spent on various types of jobs. (2)
- Estimate the length of time it will take to complete construction projects.
- Estimate the amount of mortar and other materials required to complete
construction projects. (2)
- May calculate amounts for estimates and invoices, e.g. multiply hours
worked by labour rates and add amounts for materials, supplies and applicable
- Calculate the angles of arches to construct doorways and window openings.
Help - Oral communication
- Talk to suppliers and delivery personnel, e.g. speak with suppliers
to place orders and determine delivery times. (1)
- Exchange information with co-workers and other tradespeople, e.g. speak
with other bricklayers to coordinate activities and schedules. (2)
- Exchange information with forepersons, general contractors and site
superintendents, e.g. discuss project requirements and safety concerns with
general contractors. (2)
- May exchange information with customers, e.g. respond to customers'
questions about construction procedures and material requirements. (2)
- Participate in group discussions, e.g. participate in toolbox meetings
to discuss safe work practices and the outcomes of job hazard assessments. (2)
- Exchange detailed construction information with apprentices and co-workers,
e.g. explain complex fireplace construction techniques to apprentices. (3)
- Exchange information with engineers, architects, inspectors and other
tradespeople, e.g. speak with engineers, architects and inspectors about design
faults and the measures needed to meet scheduling and building code requirements.
Help - Thinking
- Judge the condition of materials and supplies, e.g. inspect the condition
of cinder blocks prior to their use. (1)
- Encounter equipment breakdowns. They consult maintenance and repair
manuals to troubleshoot and repair faults. They consult with supervisors and
equipment repairers for more serious equipment faults. (2)
- Encounter missing specifications and material shortages. They speak
with customers, architects, forepersons, general contractors and site superintendents
to get the required specifications. They contact suppliers to arrange for the
rush delivery of needed materials. (2)
- May receive architectural drawings that they know from experience will
not work well. They contact customers, architects, forepersons, general contractors
or site superintendents about their concerns and suggest alternatives. (2)
- Decide which tools and materials to use to meet project specifications.
- Decide task steps and priorities, e.g. decide the order in which to
construct retaining walls. (2)
- Decide what mixing needs to be done to obtain a particular shade of
mortar to match heritage brickwork. (2)
- Decide to refuse unsafe work because the risks to their safety and the
safety of others are too high. (2)
- Evaluate the safety of work sites. They take note of risks posed by
equipment and construction hazards, such as excavations and confined spaces,
to evaluate the safety of work sites. (2)
- May evaluate the performance of apprentices. They consider apprentices'
abilities to construct masonry structures and locate information, such as specifications
from scale drawings. (2)
- Plan several days in advance for the materials and equipment they will
need on the job. They must co-ordinate their daily activities with other trades,
such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters. They generally have one source
for work assignments, although on large sites, they may respond to the needs
of several forepersons. Workers may encounter disruptions caused by weather,
materials not coming in on time or the juggling of tasks to meet the needs of
other trades on site. They may move to other jobs until these disruptions have
been cleared. (2)
- Obtain building code updates and fire code regulations from government
regulatory agencies and building trade offices. (2)
- May find information about upcoming construction projects by speaking
with customers and reading tenders in newspapers and on the Internet. (2)
- Learn about job hazards by inspecting job sites, reading job hazard
assessments, participating in safety briefings and speaking with co-workers.
- Locate material requirements and specifications, such as height, length
and material requirements, from work orders, technical drawings and specification
sheets and by speaking with customers, architects, forepersons, general contractors
and site superintendents. (2)
- Evaluate the quality of construction projects. They consider building
codes, appearances, alignments and the degree to which dimensions meet those
specified in work orders and technical drawings. (3)
Help - Digital technology
- May use personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related
tasks, such as calculating material requirements. (1)
- May use word processing software to prepare job estimates and invoices.
- May use spreadsheets to tally costs for job estimates and invoices.
- May use databases to retrieve forms, such as change orders. (2)
- May use databases to retrieve and print architectural drawings. (2)
- May use billing and accounting software to input and track sales, produce
invoices and estimates and print reports, such as income and expense statements.
- May use communication software to exchange email with customers, architects,
forepersons, general contractors and site superintendents. (2)
- Access online information posted by suppliers, manufacturers, unions
and associations to stay current on industry trends and practices. (2)
- May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered
by apprenticeship trainers, suppliers, employers and associations. (2)
- May use computer-controlled layout equipment, such as total stations
(specialized surveying equipment) and smart levels to measure distances and
the horizontal and vertical angles of brick structures. (2)
- May use project management software to schedule lead times and the completion
of project milestones. (3)
Help - Additional information
Working with Others
Bricklayers usually work in a team environment, often with partners. They may work alone on some projects, such as small repair jobs.
Bricklayers learn continuously on the job. They read a variety of pamphlets, booklets, texts and manuals. They participate in safety orientations. They may take safety courses, which includes training on rigging, first aid and occupational health and safety. They may take courses on the principles of loss control. They may attend sessions provided by manufacturers of new products or the insurance industry. They may attend specialty courses, such as landscaping with bricks, blocks and stone. Bricklayers also learn through experience and by exercising creativity on the job. For instance, they may use multicoloured brick to create their own pattern in fieldstone.