Can a Felon Become a Mason?

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For felons that have recently been released and are looking for work, there are resources available. Many employers have found that felons make good employees. Some felons may have previous experience in the construction field. This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a mason.

  • What Is a Mason?
  • What Education/Training Does a Mason Need?
  • How Much Does a Mason Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action

What Is a Mason?

A mason uses bricks, stones, and cement to build houses and walls.

A mason can specialize in several areas as a:

  • Bricklayer
  • Marble or tile setter
  • Cement mason
  • Block mason
  • Stone mason

A mason typically does the following:

  • Reads blueprints to determine needed materials
  • Lays out forms or foundations according to plans
  • Breaks or cuts materials to a specific size
  • Mixes and applies mortar or grout for a foundation
  • Finishes mortar joints with a trowel
  • Cleans and polishes surfaces
  • Fills joints with caulking

In order to be successful as a mason many skills are necessary, including:

  • Dexterity to handle bricks and stones
  • Hand–eye coordination to apply mortar and set bricks
  • Physical stamina to set bricks for a length of time
  • Physical strength to lift more than 50 pounds
  • Ability to work at heights on scaffolding

What Education/Training Does a Mason Need?

Most masons learn the necessary skills through apprenticeships and working with experienced masons. Apprenticeships are offered by technical and community colleges, professional masons’ and builders’ associations, and masonry unions.

Typically, an apprenticeship requires a candidate to be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED. Applicants may also have to pass an aptitude test.

An apprentice learns construction basics, such as:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Mathematics
  • Building-code requirements
  • Safety and first-aid practices

A masonry apprenticeship program usually lasts three to four years and includes classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Specifics covered in hands-on training depend on the type of masonry the apprentice is studying.

Cement-mason apprentices learn how to:

  • Set forms
  • Establish grades
  • Spread and finish cement
  • Create steps and trim

Bricklayer apprentices learn how to:

  • Clean and repair masonry
  • Perform waterproofing
  • Construct walls, arches, and columns

Each state establishes regulations for licensing in the construction industry, and some masons may be required to have a license. A mason that owns a business and has direct contact with clients is typically required to have a license. Obtaining a masonry license may involve passing an exam and providing references.

Associations like the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) offer certification for masons that want to demonstrate a high-level knowledge and experience in the field. Certification involves completing training courses and passing an exam.

How Much Does a Mason Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there were approximately 292,500 masons working in the U.S. in 2016. The median annual wage for masons was $41,330. The median salary is the salary at which half of the masons earned more than that amount and half earned less.

Their exact earnings depend on factors such as certification, amount of experience, and region of the country. A mason working on the East or West coast tends to have a higher income than in other regions of the country.

This occupation is expected to show a 12% growth by 2026.

An Opportunity for Felons?

While the requirements for a felon to be accepted as a masonry apprentice differ depending on the state, there are important regulations.

These criteria will be considered as to whether a crime relates the occupation of a mason:

  • Nature and seriousness of the crime
  • Amount of time since last criminal conviction
  • Amount of time since release from incarceration
  • Work history before and after the conviction
  • Evidence of rehabilitation

It is important to be honest when applying for a job as a mason. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful as a mason it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already viewed with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures. For example, being honest will allow a felon to work in the construction industry as a plumber or an electrician.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a mason. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It is a significant challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon that wants to become a mason. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs, rehabilitation, or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding as a mason.

Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a mason with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

About the author

After earning his MBA from Benedictine University, Ron was looking for a new challenge and stumbled on the idea of helping the formerly incarcerated.

Using what he learned, Ron developed this website as a free resource and has worked with his team​ to continue answering questions for those in need.

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