Stonemasonry is essentially open to anyone and there are no formal requirements to kick-start your career as a stonemason. Training colleges will take students with lower GCSE grades and employers value hands-on experience in the building trade far more highly.
For those with no prior experience in the construction field then the option is to take a college course. This will give you an initial grounding in the art and will help in finding work as you go up to the next level.
Popular entry-level courses recognised by the City and Guilds include the Level 1 Award in Stone Masonry Operations, the Level 1 Certificate in Construction and Building, and the Diploma in Preparation for Employment in the Construction Industries.
These are one-year courses available at colleges and further education centres across the country. Students will learn and develop basic skills relevant to working in construction and which will allow them to move onto to higher and more specialised qualifications and apprenticeships.
Students could then take on the following qualifications or work towards them while on an apprenticeship scheme: Level 2 Diploma in Craft Masonry, Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma in Stonemasonry (Construction) and Level 2/3 Diploma in Stonemasonry - Banker.
These include units on how to interpret building plans, making/repairing/installing architectural features, cladding and structure, and health and safety.
Those with an interest in working on historical buildings could specialise in this by completing the Level 3 (NVQ) Diploma in Heritage Skills.
It’s a requirement to hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card if you are working on a construction site in the UK. This card is proof that you have passed the CITB Health, Safety, and Environment test which proves your occupational competence in health and safety.
Apprenticeship Programs offer the opportunity to gain a wide range of real-world stonemasonry experience onsite, with involvement in the day-to-day running of projects including the likes of masonry consolidation, dressing stone and building stone, as well as many other conservation practices and general routine maintenance of properties.
Those with some prior experience in construction can skip the entry-level qualifications above but it’s always worth checking out apprenticeship requirements before you apply as they do vary.
Apprentices attend college during the apprenticeship for further study to develop their knowledge, understanding and experience, leading to an NVQ Diploma in Stonemasonry. The final year of the apprenticeship consists of onsite training and skills tests.
The easiest way to find an apprenticeship is to use the government’s apprenticeship search tool, search for available opportunities elsewhere on the internet, or talk with a career’s advisor.