What is a Stonemason?

A stonemason is a skilled professional who carves, shapes, and arranges stones to create various structures, sculptures, and even buildings. In this guide, we’ll explore what stonemasons do, how to become one, the salary you can expect, career prospects, and related opportunities.

What Does a Stonemason Do?

Stonemasons are artists who work with stone to craft beautiful and functional pieces. Here’s a closer look at their job:

Working with Stone

  • Stonemasons use their hands and a range of tools, from chisels to power tools, to manipulate stone.
  • They can create a wide array of structures, from buildings and sculptures to decorative elements like plaques and headstones.
  • Some stonemasons specialize in monumental masonry, where they create memorials and plaques, often working closely with the funeral industry. Sensitivity to people’s needs and an eye for design are essential in this sector.
  • While some stonemasons work primarily in workshops, others, known as fixer masons, work on-site, often in challenging weather conditions and at heights.
  • The work can be dusty and noisy, requiring strict adherence to health and safety procedures and the use of protective clothing.

Entry Level

  • Monumental masons, who create memorials and headstones, may have a strong focus on design and the needs of grieving families.
  • Fixer masons assemble and fix stones on-site, requiring physical fitness and the ability to work at heights.
  • Banker masons cut, shape, and carve stone for building designs. This role demands precision and artistic skills for producing decorative finishes.

How to Become a Stonemason

If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a stonemason, here’s how you can get started:

Entry Requirements

  • Surprisingly, there are no formal entry qualifications required to become a stonemason. However, having an interest in art and design is desirable for this creative profession.
  • It may also be useful to have GCSE/National 5 passes in English, Maths, and Design and Technology, especially if you’ll need to calculate areas and volumes in your work.
  • Pre-entry experience, such as working as a labourer on construction sites, is highly valued by potential employers and can serve as a stepping stone to stonemasonry training.


  • One common pathway is through an apprenticeship with a building or stonemasonry firm. Apprentices receive on-the-job training from experienced professionals and combine it with part-time attendance at a college or training centre.
  • During your apprenticeship, you’ll work towards gaining relevant NVQs/SVQs, such as Stonemasonry Levels 2 and 3. To get accepted, candidates typically need to complete an aptitude assessment and may secure employment beforehand.
  • Alternatively, you can choose to complete a relevant course full-time at a college. However, keep in mind that future employers often value on-site experience.

Qualifications and Courses

  • As an apprentice, you may work towards NVQ Diplomas in Heritage Skills (Construction) – Mason (Level 3) or the City & Guilds Diploma in Masonry (Levels 1-3) (6715).
  • These courses cover various aspects, including estimating, planning, setting out projects, and understanding product information and tools.
  • Employers on construction sites typically require workers to hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card as proof of competence. Having a driving license can also be useful, especially for fixer masons who need to travel between job sites.

Stonemason Salary

Now, let’s talk about the financial side of becoming a stonemason:

  • Starting salaries for stonemasons can range from £15,000 to £19,000 a year.
  • As you gain experience, your salary could increase to anywhere between £20,000 and £35,000.
  • There’s often an opportunity for overtime and bonuses, which can significantly boost your income.
  • Self-employed stonemasons have the flexibility to negotiate their own rates, offering the potential for higher earnings.

Career Prospects and Progression

What does the future hold for a stonemason? Let’s take a look:

  • In the UK, there’s a good demand for skilled stonemasons due to a shortage of traditional craft skills.
  • You can choose to work for stonemasonry firms or larger building contractors.
  • If you work for a smaller stonemasonry company, you may need to handle both banking and fixing work. However, opportunities may be limited in small, family-run businesses.
  • With experience, you may decide to specialize in restoration work or new construction projects. You could also move into supervisory roles or even consider instructing at a college or becoming self-employed.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Considering a career as a stonemason? Here are some pros and cons:


  • You have the opportunity to work on impressive restoration projects in historic settings like cathedrals or stately homes.
  • The work you do can contribute to the preservation of beautiful buildings that will be admired for many years to come.


  • The job can be physically demanding, especially if you’re working at heights, which may not be suitable for everyone.

Related Opportunities

If stonemasonry intrigues you but you’re not sure if it’s the perfect fit, there are related opportunities you can explore:

  • Bricklayer: Bricklayers specialize in building structures using bricks and other masonry materials.
  • Building Technician: Building technicians assist in the planning and construction of buildings.
  • Dry Stone Waller: Dry stone wallers construct walls without using mortar, relying on the precise placement of stones.

Further Information

For more information and resources on stonemasonry, you can visit the following websites:

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