Masons use bricks, cinder blocks, concrete blocks, and natural or man-made stones to build walls, fences, walkways and other structures. Masons typically work outdoors under physically demanding conditions that require heavy lifting, standing, bending or kneeling for extended periods of time.
Specific duties include reading blueprints or drawings to calculate material requirements, laying out foundations and patterns, cutting masonry materials to the required sizes and laying them according to plans, and mixing mortar or grout. Masons also make sure the structures they build are properly vertical and horizontal. They polish surfaces by hand or using power tools and apply the correct caulking materials to expansion joints.
There are several specializations within the mason profession. Bricklayers typically work with brick, concrete blocks and pre-cast masonry panels to build or repair floors, walls, partitions, chimneys and fireplaces. Refractory masons install firebrick, gunite castables and refractory tile for industrial boilers, furnaces, incinerators and soaking pits, and they may work for steel mills, oil refineries or glass manufacturers. Stonemasons specialize in the use of stone materials such as marble, granite and limestone to build stone walls or set stone floors and exteriors.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2015, jobs for masons are expected to grow by 34 percent through 2022 as population growth drives up the construction of homes, schools, hospitals and other buildings. As of 2012, masons earned an average salary of $21.61 per hour or $44,950 per year.