How To Become a Stone Mason in 4 Steps
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 26 June 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
If you enjoy physical work and feel satisfied creating things, becoming a stonemason may be a fulfilling career option for you. Working as a stonemason might involve you working with a team on a construction site or in the homes of private clients. Understanding the training and skill sets required to excel as a stonemason may help you decide whether this profession is right for you. In this article, we explain what stonemasons do, highlight their salary and job outlook and reference the skill sets and training required for this career.
How to become a stonemason
Here are the steps you should follow to become a qualified stonemason:
1. Finish year 10 of high school
Stay in high school until at least the end of year 10. You may like to stay until the end of year 12, so you can graduate with a secondary school certificate. This qualification can give you an advantage over other candidates for some positions. Studying subjects such as woodwork and metalwork may help you develop your motor skills and make you feel confident using tools.
2. Complete an apprenticeship
Completing year 10 qualifies you for an apprenticeship. During your apprenticeship, you'll spend around 42 months working for a firm employing stonemasons. You'll learn practical skills on the job while studying for a certificate through TAFE or another registered training provider. You will complete one of the following certificates, depending on your interests:
Certificate III in Stonemasonry (Monumental/Installation): Units focus on cutting, shaping, engraving and installing monuments in locations including cemeteries and parks.
Certificate III in Stonemasonry (Restoration): Units focus on restoring and preserving heritage structures, including historic homes and statues.
3. Get a safety license and builder's license
You'll need a general construction induction card, also known as a white card, to work as a professional stonemason anywhere in Australia. Sign up for the Prepare to Work Safely in the Construction Industry course via a registered training operator. After you complete the course, your state or territory's official safety body issues your card. While each state and territory has its own card, they are recognised Australia-wide.
You'll also need the relevant builder's license in your state and territory to work independently as a stonemason on most jobs:
New South Wales: Contractor license issued by Service NSW, for completing work with a total cost of more than $5,000
Victoria: Building practitioner registration issued by the Victorian Building Authority
Queensland: Trade contractor license issued by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. Complete the Establish Legal and Risk Management Requirements of New Business Ventures course first via a registered training organisation, whether applying as a trade contractor or supervisor
Australian Capital Territory: Construction occupations license issued by Access Canberra
South Australia: Building work contractor's license, issued by Consumer and Business Services SA
Tasmania: Builder license issued by the Tasmanian Government's Consumer Building and Occupational Services department
Western Australia: Builders' registration issued by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation to work independently on jobs valued at more than $20,000
4. Apply for stonemason jobs
With your white card and builder's license sorted, you can now apply for vacant stonemason jobs. If your apprenticeship was successful, your employer may give you a regular full-time position. Alternatively, you could work for another business or become self-employed. After honing your craft, you may discover certain areas of stonemasonry where you excel. Many stonemasons specialise in an area of interest, such as engraving or banker masonry.
What is a stonemason?
A stonemason is a craftsperson who works with stone. Stonemasons cut and shape masonry slabs and stone blocks for commercial and residential projects. They work on a variety of structures such as buildings, monuments, statues and tombstones. They may work on new structures or restore older ones, especially historic buildings. Skilled stonemasons can work with various stones, including sandstone, marble and limestone. Common tasks stonemasons perform include:
Interpreting blueprints, plans and specifications for structures to determine their dimensions, best installation approach and materials needed
Selecting stones that suit the job best, unless the client selects own stones
Transporting stone to job sites
Cutting and shaping stones with hand tools and machines, considering the unique characteristics of the stone
Cutting lettering and decorative features into stonework using cutting tools, chisels or sandblasting equipment
Spreading mortar using trowels, then laying stone paving and granite and marble tiles
Constructing stone slab walls
Cutting and polishing stone pieces for home fixtures including kitchen benches and bathroom vanities
Performing intricate stone design work with hammers, chisels and punches
Engraving tombstones and plaques
Repairing old stonework on prominent structures including churches, theatres, museums and statues
Salary and job outlook
According to Indeed Salaries, a stonemason in Australia makes an average of $64,961 per year. A stonemason's experience and area of specialty, such as restoration, can influence their salary. The Australian Government's Job Outlook website groups stonemasons with bricklayers. It predicts moderate future growth for these professions. In 2019, there were 32,300 stonemasons and bricklayers working in the country. By 2024, there should be approximately 34,200 stonemasons and bricklayers.
Stonemasons use a variety of hard and soft skills in their careers, including:
Technical stonemasonry skills
One of the most important skills for stonemasons are technical skills. With experience, stonemasons can anticipate how stones react and how to treat them to make them look their best. They become skilled at common tasks including cutting, carving, engraving and polishing.
Fine motor skills
Fine motor skills help stonemasons with intricate tasks like restoring historic buildings and decorative building facades. They need steady hands and skill with their tools to achieve the desired results, without damaging stones. Fine motor skills are vital for carver masons, who create artistic structures such as statues and water fountains.
Creative thinking can help stonemasons working on artistic projects, including statues, fountains and sculptures. Their creativity can inspire unique structures that appeal to clients. Very creative stonemasons may become self-employed professionals focusing on creative works.
Stonemasons use their problem-solving skills to navigate challenges that occur during their projects. If a particular stone is in short supply, they may improvise with stones of a different type or size. If a building has more extensive damage than expected, they think about how they can achieve a quality result while meeting their deadlines.
Stonemasonry is a physically demanding profession. Stonemasons must be fit enough to lift and transport stones, manipulate tools and construct structures. They may develop their physical fitness through personal training sessions or time spent in the gym.
While stonemasons often work as part of construction teams, they typically have their own projects. It requires self-management to stay motivated and work productively to meet deadlines. They must be reliable, as they are often the only person on a project with their unique skill set.
Although stonemasons often work independently, working on a construction site requires teamwork. They should be able to adapt to the needs of other people on-site and coordinate their efforts to complete projects to a high standard and on time. If required, stonemasons may help other people on-site transporting heavy materials or holding elements in place.
Read more: Teamwork Skills: Definition and Examples
Stonemasons use their communication skills when meeting with clients and determining their needs. Active listening can help stonemasons make sure they know what the client wants. They also know the best questions to ask to get the information they need from their clients. They also use their communication skills to explain the limits of different stones and suggest the best way to approach tasks. They know how to make their specialist knowledge more accessible so their clients understand them.
Occupational health and safety
Stonemasons work with potentially dangerous tools, including planing machines, diamond circular saws and gang saws. Good occupational health and safety skills help stonemasons reduce their risk of injury and their risk to others. They know how to use their tools safely, wear protective accessories and stay alert for potential hazards, such as frayed power cords.
Stonemasons use their mathematics skills when analysing project plans. Their arithmetic skills help them determine the number of materials they need to create the structure to the desired dimensions. They also use these skills to estimate costings. Mental arithmetic skills help stonemasons perform calculations quickly and accurately.
Stonemasons pride themselves on delivering exceptional work. They focus on working to a high standard and check that their efforts are creating the results they want. If challenges arise, they take the time to remedy them instead of hoping flaws will go unnoticed.
Most employers prefer stonemasons with a driver's license, as these employees can get to job sites and collect stones for their work. A standard driver's license should be appropriate for most jobs. However, jobs on some construction sites may also require a forklift license.
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