a stonemason teaching a student
Nowadays with tons of 'modern' and 'trendy' jobs floating around, tradition is often forgotten. Stonemasonry as a craft and skill has been around ever since humans started to use tools. Just take a look at any historical building. To give you an example, if you look at St Paul's Cathedral, those sculptures that you see on the walls were the work of stonemasons. The stonemason's work can last for generations, even centuries. Other notable works includes Stonehenge, the Parthenon in Greece, not to mention the wondrous Pyramids of Egypt. If you enjoy being practical and creative, then stonemasonry may be the right role for you. To find out more about this highly rewarding career, then please read on.

The History of Stonemasonry - When Did It All Start?

Stonemasonry has been around for more than a thousand years, and it is still evolving. Early humans were experimenting with different kinds of stones for a variety of purposes. Mainly for survival. You can imagine these early human settlers making tools and weapons for building shelter and for hunting. But now, stonemasonry is now used to make architectural masterpieces, even more magnificent. While working with stone may sound simple, a highly experienced stonemason will show you that there is more to it. There are so many factors to keep in mind. A stonemason needs to know which stones will be suitable for the job. Each type of stone will have different physical properties. For example, limestone dissolves in rainwater (which is slightly acidic) and won't be suitable for outdoor buildings.

Types of Stonemasonry - Learning the Craft

Many people are not fully aware of the different disciplines in stonemasonry. And the roles to keep in mind are the following three:
  • Fixer Masons - Fixer masons are highly skilled professionals who work with blueprints. Fixers also replace and recover existing frameworks built with stone. As a general expectation, fixer masons are expected to be prepared to work with heavy objects in dangerous, often hostile environments.
  • Banker Masons - Banker masons are renowned for their extensive use of powerful workshop equipment, as well as hand based tools. They are often handed very specific briefs from designers from various backgrounds. And they're also required to meet a certain criteria with the final stone product.
  • Memorial Masons - As you may have assumed from the name, memorial masons are mainly employed by local authorities such as the government. Typical work includes engraving, carving and memorial work for crematories, funeral service providers and sometimes interior/exterior design services.
These are the three primary types of stonemasonry, but there are other types of stonemasonry that specialise in smaller, intimate branches of the craft. As a stonemason, you do of course want to have the widest outreach and appeal to potential customers, although some of the greatest craftsmen can afford to have a tighter niche.

How to Get Into The Trade

There are no set entry requirements to get into stonemasonry. Many employers would like to see on-site experience which you can do via becoming a construction labourer. But since stonemasonry is quite a skill to master, it is highly advisable that you enrol on to a college course. And we discuss this in detail in the next section.

Qualifications

A variety of colleges in Greater London do offer BTEC qualifications and diplomas in stonemasonry. Some colleges even offer work experience to help you get your foot in the door. So it is worth doing some research to know what each college offers before you decide to enrol. Since a majority of stonemasons work in the construction sector, you need to get a CSCS card before you can work on site. As an entry level, we advise you get the Green CSCS card. Here at The Learning Station, we can you get this CSCS qualification within 5 days.

Career Progression

As with any other profession, there is career progression. Many stonemasons go on to become supervisors or begin a career in teaching in a college. Some stonemasons, after getting the initial training and experience go on to run their own business too. And by continuing to master the skill, you can also build up a highly reputable status amongst contractors, designers and architects. Thanks for reading. What are your thoughts on stonemasonry? Please let know us in the comments section below. Featured image: Pixabay