Bricklayer National Occupational Analysis (NOA)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of Bricklayer.

Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Briqueteur-maçon/briqueteuse-maçonne

NOC: 7281

Designation Year: 2011

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Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Bricklayer

Use this self-assessment tool (PDF, 862 KB) to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information


“Bricklayer” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by bricklayers whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:














Brick and Stone Mason



x x x x   x x x   x

Bricklayer - Mason




Bricklayers build and repair walls, floors, arches, pavings, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys, smokestacks, furnaces, kilns and other structures. They work with materials such as brick, natural stone, manufactured stone, tiles, precast masonry panels, glass blocks, concrete blocks, light-weight insulated panels, other masonry units, insulation and membranes. They erect, install, maintain, repair and alter various masonry. The structures vary in complexity from a simple masonry walkway to an ornate exterior on a multi-level building.

Bricklayers use wheelbarrows and forklifts to transport materials. They use hand and power tools to cut and trim masonry units to required size. Trowels are used to spread mortar to bond layers of masonry units together. Measuring and layout tools such as a plumb line, level and laser level are used to ensure proper alignment.

Bricklayers work on industrial, commercial, institutional and residential buildings. They may specialize in stone work, restoration work or ornamental work. They may also specialize in installing refractories in high-temperature environments or installing corrosion resistant materials to line corrosive environments such as tanks and vessels.

Key attributes for people in this trade are manual dexterity, mechanical aptitude, the ability to problem solve and think sequentially, and the ability to work at heights. Bricklaying is physically demanding work and requires considerable effort in lifting heavy materials, climbing, bending, kneeling, working in confined spaces and working on scaffolding. Bricklayers need to have an eye for detail in order to create accurate and aesthetically pleasing work.

Most of the work is performed outdoors exposing bricklayers to the elements. The winterization of job sites allows the work to continue year round. Construction safety and accident prevention is a priority.

This analysis recognizes similarities or overlaps with the work of other trades such as tilesetters, concrete finishers, carpenters, and drywall finisher and plasterers.

Experienced bricklayers may advance to supervisory positions for masonry contractors or in other related fields such as construction management, estimating or building inspection. They may also become contractors.

Occupational Observations

The trend away from fully masonry-veneered single-family homes continues. However, a new trend towards masonry in condominiums is increasing. Builders are starting to value the selling strength of brick and block construction. The advantages include energy efficiency, reduced maintenance, fire resistance, sound resistance, structural soundness and longevity of masonry. In the construction of housing, manufactured stone/thin veneers are being used more often due to ease of installation and consumer-driven interest.

Work practices and equipment are being designed with the bricklayer in mind, with consideration given to ergonomics and efficiency. Climbing scaffolding and tower scaffolding are designed to keep the bricklayer at a comfortable position to eliminate excessive bending and lifting. Cordless power tools such as drills, grinders and jackhammers are allowing greater mobility and efficiency. The use of dustless cutting and drilling technologies is being embraced by industry.

Specifications and documentation, owing to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), have become more complex. Energy efficiency and environmental awareness affect this trade as new regulations are imposed on building processes and materials. The masonry industry is a leader in compliance with LEED requirements. Bricklayers must keep up-to-date with these guidelines and requirements. There is a trend of increased safety documentation requirements on job sites.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

The tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

Bricklayers require strong reading skills to read a variety of documentation such as job specifications, manufacturers’ directions for product preparation and application, job site, company and jurisdictional safety requirements, and correspondence from suppliers and contractors.

Bricklayers interpret blueprints, read assembly drawings and make sketches of items to be built. They complete forms such as time sheets, incident reports, request for information (RFI), personal safety information (PSI) and field level risk assessments (FLRA).

Bricklayers use writing skills to complete documents such as lists of materials, incident reports, and time sheets. They may correspond in writing with co-workers regarding supplies or work to be done.

Bricklayers talk with suppliers, delivery personnel, customers and co-workers, and co-ordinate activities with other trades. They give directions to apprentices, liaise with supervisors and participate in meetings.

Bricklayers measure the length, height and width of structures to be built and calculate angles of arches when constructing openings. They estimate mix ratios by weight and volume. Bricklayers estimate the amount of time and material required to complete a job.

Bricklayers use problem solving skills to address issues that may arise on the job such as design changes or omissions. Bricklayers plan the materials and equipment they need for a job and schedule tasks according to priority, sequence and to meet the needs of other trades on site.

Bricklayers usually work in a team environment although they may work alone on some jobs. Many jobs are done with a fellow worker. Therefore, they must cooperate and coordinate with others to ensure consistent work. Bricklayers may perform supervisory functions and guide or monitor the work performance of others.

Bricklayers may use digital devices to complete numeracy related tasks and to communicate with others. They may access online information posted by suppliers and manufacturers to stay current on industry trends and practices. Bricklayers may also access databases to retrieve forms such as change orders and to retrieve architectural drawings. Bricklayers may use computer controlled layout equipment such as surveying equipment and smart levels to measure distances and horizontal and vertical angles of brick structures.

Bricklayers learn continuously through experience and creativity on the job. They may attend sessions provided by manufacturers of new products. Bricklayers may also attend specialty inperson or online courses, for example safety or landscaping with bricks, blocks and stone, or reference pamphlets, booklets or manuals on specific topics. Bricklayers may need to expand their skills by getting additional certifications such as scaffold building, welding, hoisting and rigging and confined space.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended by ESDC and the CCDA to the following representatives of the trade, and the apprenticeship bodies or national organizations that nominated them.

  • Gilbert Beausoleil - Quebec
  • John Deleskie - Nova Scotia
  • Stephen Egan - Manitoba
  • Clarence Gallant - Prince Edward Island
  • Brian Gebhardt - Canadian Masonry Contractors Association
  • Michael Hazard - British Columbia
  • Clifford Kobelsky - Saskatchewan
  • Tim Maxson - Ontario
  • Melvin Sparkes - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Justin Stewart - New Brunswick

This analysis was prepared by the Labour Market Integration Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the NOA development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. The host jurisdiction of Ontario also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about National Occupational Analyses may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0J9