Bricklaying Apprenticeships: The Past Tense

Bricklaying apprenticeships provide a great opportunity for an aspiring craftsman to develop and hone their skills under the tutelage of an experienced professional. The tradition of apprenticeship is probably one of the few that have continued largely unchanged to this day. From the time the first craftsman felt he was getting too old to carry on his trade, he started looking for a young man who could continue the craft after his passing. From apprentice to journeyman to master craftsman – this long and arduous road typically took an entire lifetime to complete. There was no 'switching majors' or 'taking time off', from the time a young man started his apprenticeship. In certain aspects, it can be likened to slavery – the apprentice had no rights, could not question his master, and was often paid only with food and maybe a few coins every now and then to send home to his aged parents and 16 siblings. Life was tough then, but things have changed since those times, and an apprentice now has the right to quit whenever he wants, and can keep decent hours as well. He even gets to keep his self-respect intact. Gone are the days when the only things an apprentice had to show for several years of service were some trade skills and a couple thousand knocks on the head courtesy the education process. Today, bricklaying apprenticeships are exactly what thousands of individuals need to make their creative and professional aspirations come true.

Bricklaying Apprenticeships Today: A World Apart

Nowadays, an apprenticeship is more of an agreement between a master mason and a student, intended to serve two purposes – for the master to have a gofer who will assist him with projects, and for the apprentice to gain valuable trade knowledge from someone who is an expert. There is also a pay scale comparatively amounting to a lot more than a few brass farthings to partially fill the family belly. Apprentices now are also free to move from one master mason to another, although it is not recommended. Masons have their own styles and preferences, and you don't want to end up like a cut-and-paste job with no individuality. The present day apprenticeship is more akin to a partnership-based training program rather than a master-slave relationship. The old equations don't hold good anymore.

Bricklaying Apprenticeships: Joining Up

If you're looking for an apprenticeship program to get into, you can approach one of the local unions in your area. The Bricklayers and Allied Craft-workers (BAC) Union is a good place to start; for example, you can contact their BAC Local 3 Apprenticeship Training Program at the Mason Development Center in Tracy, California. Of course, you will be required to join the Union first, but the system is highly organized and will teach you everything you need to know to be a Master Bricklayer in about four and a half years. The program pays about forty percent of what a journeyman would expect to be paid, and there are pay increases every time you accrue 900 work and 76 school hours, which can be done in about six months.

Bricklaying Apprenticeships: Following The Brick Road

When you're on the path to becoming a professional bricklayer, trained and certified, you will need to maintain optimal physical health. Nearly all apprenticeships require that you be able to carry heavy loads of up to 50 lbs back and forth throughout the day. This alone will bring on fatigue during the first few days and you might wish you had never set eyes on this profession. But as the pain wears off, a new-found respect begins to form for the men and women of the trade. You start to look at buildings with a sense of awe, knowing that one day your work will be a part of a grander design. You start to walk taller knowing that you are in one of the noblest professions in the world – that of providing shelter, safety and security to billions of people around the world. Don't ever let that sense of wonder fade away and be replaced by the all-too-common bored indifference that is the way of the learned. There's an old story of a man who once met a bricklayer and asked him what he was doing. The man said, "Laying bricks, of course". He went to another and asked him the same thing, and again, the same reply. When he went to the third bricklayer, he again asked, "What are you doing?" After a moment's silence, the tradesman looked up and said, "Why, I'm building the grandest cathedral in the world." Let that sense of wonderment remain with you all of your bricklaying years; you will never regret a single day in your life of purpose and substance.