Every project starts with an examination of the plans and technical specifications with the architect or engineer in charge to see what has to be done, followed by material selection and work site preparation. Masons use an assortment of tools such as trowels to spread mortar, plumb lines and squares to check angles and alignment, and power saws, hammers and chisels to shape materials. These tools are used to build walls, floors, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys and other structures made of brick, pre-cast masonry panels, concrete blocks and other masonry materials. Masons must understand the effects that air, moisture and pressure can have on these structures in order to meet construction safety standards.
As a mason, you should be physically fit, enjoy working outdoors, work well with your hands and have a good eye for precision. You will be expected to work quickly and precisely according to a prearranged schedule, to accurately follow blueprints, and to be flexible enough to adapt to various materials, techniques and conditions. As there is minimal supervision on most job sites, motivation, dependability and the ability to take initiative are all important characteristics of masons. You also need good interpersonal communication skills to interact with clients, foremen and co-workers, and an appreciation of architecture, design and proportion.
Masons often work for construction companies or are self-employed as sub-contractors, involved on a project-by-project basis. Working either structurally or decoratively, they may renovate commercial and residential structures or be employed in the construction of new buildings. Masons routinely work in concert with architects and engineers to coordinate activities on large construction sites. The use of heavy tools and materials is common, as is working outdoors, sometimes in all kinds of weather. Typical working conditions also include standing, kneeling and bending for long periods, in both small enclosed spaces and large open areas, or even at the top of skyscrapers.
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