Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: What is Masonry?
A: Masonry, aka brick and stone work, is one of the oldest surviving crafts in the world. In fact, many of the world’s wonders are masonry creations, including the Egyptian Pyramids, Roman Coliseum, Taj Mahal, and Great Wall of China, and are admired for their outstanding architectural achievements.
Today, everywhere you turn, lays the work of skilled mason–in homes, schools, churches, hospitals, and more. Since its inception, architects and builders have chosen masonry for its beauty, versatility, and resistance against the destructive forces of time and weather. Masons take pride in knowing that their creations will be enjoyed for centuries to come.
Q: As a mason, what would I do?
A: Masons (aka bricklayers) work with brick, concrete block, glass block, tile, terra cotta and stone. Work can be as simple as building a wall or as complex as installing an ornate exterior or constructing a skyscraper. No matter what the job, the skill and precision required by a mason has yet to be replaced by machines.
As with many construction trades, masonry work is primarily performed outdoors. Masons work in all weather conditions, and buildings are enclosed with protective sheeting during cold months. This allows masons to work year round, which provides stability in their income.
The work is very physical, involving the use of hand tools, power tools and material handling equipment. Every brick and block must be laid by hand, and requires the skill of a craftsman - a true artisan. A skilled mason knows the different patterns, textures and colours that create an attractive finished product. Masons must also be able to read blueprints, understand building codes and be knowledgeable of industry safety guidelines and rules for handling hazardous materials.
Q: Will a masonry career sustain me?
A: YES! In general, the construction industry is very busy, but masons in particular are in high demand. Current shortages along with an aging workforce across Canada are fueling the demand for new apprentices to replace and add to the number of skilled masons in Canada.
The increasing popularity of masonry units will stimulate demand for brick & stone masons. The diversification of your masonry skills accumulated with career experience and knowledge will help to ensure continuity of employment.
Q: What opportunities can a masonry career lead to?
A: Some masons are specializing in very specific skills such as refractory and restoration work. Along with providing skills for the job, a background in masonry can lead to positions such as site supervisors, estimators, self-employed contractors, and many other opportunities throughout your career.
Q: What characteristics should I have to succeed in a masonry career?
A: This work is often physically demanding and requires healthy individuals with good stamina. Masons need to have good vision, spatial perception, hand-eye coordination and an ability to estimate size and dimensions. Because masons often work on scaffolds, they must be comfortable working at heights. Artistic skills are also a strong asset. You must be at least 16 years of age. A Grade 10 education or equivalent is recommended including a good command of written and spoken English and Mathematics. Apprentices must be able to work well, both individually and in teams under direct supervision.
Q: Are women suitable for a career in masonry?
A: YES! Although masons in the past have primarily consisted of men, many women have pursued their interest in masonry and enrolled in our school and even instruct courses. Women do need to be able to perform the physical duties associated with a masonry career, but gender should not deter them from pursuing this career path.
Q: Do I have to join the Union?
A: Access to training is available to everyone in the masonry industry regardless of membership in an organized union. If you choose to work for a unionized mason contractor you can sign up with the local bricklayers’ union office.
Q: I’m from Northern Ontario. Are there any courses available at a college or training institution closer to my home?
A: Unfortunately, Northern Ontario’s college system hasn’t been able to sustain courses in Brick & Stone Masonry so options are limited to a few training providers in Ontario.
The OMTC garners support from masonry contractors and manufacturers to maintain a balanced budget without having to charge excessive fees. Currently, OMTC has three campuses, our main campus in Mississauga, a satellite campus in Ottawa (Orleans), as well as a program run through Conestoga College in Waterloo.
Elsewhere in Ontario, we are aware of MAESD-approved programs offered by Labourers Union Local 183 in Vaughan, Cobourg and Barrie, Fanshawe College in London, St. Lawrence College in Kingston, St. Clair College in Windsor, La Cite in Ottawa (Orleans). Although each of these institutions teach according to a common government standard for Brick & Stone Masonry, the programs will vary in content and quality.
Employment Insurance (EI) supplements costs of living away from home for eligible candidates. Contact your local service canada office if you are unsure of your eligibility requirements.
Q: How can I find more information about masonry training?
A: OMTC also holds Information Session for the public where you can find out more about the trade and get tips and strategies for finding employment. Check out our calendar for the next scheduled information session date and time.
Q: What is "Registered Apprentice"?
A: Registered apprentice means that your masonry employer/sponsor has registered you with the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) under their company/sponsor name. You, your employer/sponsor and an MAESD representative will sign a "Training Agreement". To finalize this document, apprentices must pay a fee to the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT). In a few weeks, you will receive an MAESD wallet ID card in the mail which will identify you as a registered apprentice. This card will have your agreement number and Client ID number. This card along with your "Training Agreement" are very important documents when applying for government grants!
Q: Who is the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT)?
A: The Ontario College of Trades is an independent, industry-driven body which is raising the profile of, and promoting involvement in skilled trades. You must be a member of this college in order to keep your "Training Agreement" active and membership in good standing. For more information, please visit their website.
Q: How do I find a masonry employer/sponsor?
A: Regardless of the demand for new masons, it can take a lot of hard work and determination to locate an employer who will give an inexperienced individual an opportunity. Typical of the construction industry, most jobs are found through networking (word-of-mouth) and job site visits, but some positions are posted on websites such as www.jobbank.gc.ca, www.apprenticesearch.com, www.wearetrades.com, www.hirewithconfidence.ca. Many individuals also find opportunities by beginning as a mason tender (or bricklayer’s helper) although any construction exposure will give you an advantage in finding a full-time employer.
Don’t get discouraged too quickly if an opportunity doesn’t emerge right away; the benefits will far outweigh the footwork once you gain some hands-on knowledge of the industry!
Q: How much will I earn?
A: As a registered apprentice your “Training Agreement” legislates that you will be paid a minimum of 40% of an employer’s journeyman wage to start, with the percentage increasing to 60%, 70% and 80% for every 1400 hours worked.
Q: How do I sign up for my in-school part of the training?
A: Registered apprentices will be inputted in the ministry database, which is then forwarded to the school the apprentice wishes to attend. In this case, if OMTC is the school that is requested, MAESD will send us an updated list of registered apprentices to prompt us to send out our training schedule and school application form.
If you do not receive an application for school, please notify us right away, as we may have not yet received your name from MAESD or we may have a wrong address.
Q: When does in-school training run?
A: OMTC is aware of how busy jobsites can get during the summer months, therefore we make every effort to schedule apprenticeship classes in the “slower” construction season which is between September - May.
Each level is 2 months (8 weeks) which run Monday to Thursday, 7:00am - 4:00pm and Fridays, 7:00am - 1:30 pm. This will give a 40-hour week similar to that found in the construction industry.
Q: How much does the course cost?
A: The Government of Ontario, Ontario Masonry Contractors’ Association (OMCA), Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association (CCMPA), Cement Association of Canada (CAC), Clay Brick Association of Canada (CBAC) fund the majority of costs associated with training apprentices at the OMTC.
Apprentices are required to share in these costs by paying a $400 classroom fee per in-school level as well as paying the annual fee of $60 to the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT). Apprentices are required to supply their own hand tools, and are offered an optional $400 interest-free tool loan by the MAESD to help fund tool purchases. First time applicants will also have to purchase the mandatory textbook which cost $94.50 tax included.
OMTC will supply lesson notes, building materials, and use of power tools for classroom and hands-on training, not to mention our terrific instructors!
Q: How do I financially support myself and/or family while I'm in class for the 2 months?
A: Once deemed eligible by Human Resources & Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), an apprentice may collect Employment Insurance (EI) benefits while in training. Contact your local HRSDC office if you are not sure of your eligibility requirements. For more information, please visit their website.
There is also a new Canada Apprentice Loan available to apprentices who need to borrow money during their time in school. For more information, please visit their website.
OMTC also schedules an MAESD representatives the first week of class to discuss any financial or apprentice questions you may have. There are also financial benefits they will discuss in regards to travel allowances, living-away expenses, day care expenses, etc. in which you may qualify.