The Facts on the Bricklayer Shortage and Pay Rates

Rick Turner wth CaptionI need to correct a report on bricklayer earnings that was recently published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and then syndicated across other press outlets in other States.

ABBTF can confirm that bricklayers do not earn $6,000 over four days, as was reported, for the reason that a bricklayer cannot physically lay 1,500 a day!

Bricklayers on average lay 300-500 bricks per day subject to weather conditions and the complexity of the job.  The current laying rate in Sydney is around $1.50 per brick but can be as high as $1.90.  The current rate is due to a shortage of bricklayers which has been driven by a sharp rise in construction activity.  Dwelling starts in NSW have increased by 67% in three years.

The higher rates are more prevalent in the commercial market and Sydney has the highest proportion of commercial work in Australia.  Rates in regional New South Wales and other States are much lower than the Sydney rate.

The news article did highlight the bricklayer shortage, which it’s hoped will bring more young people to an awareness of the trade as a career choice – they’re in high demand.    ABBTF is continuing its effort to recruit quality candidates for the bricklaying apprenticeship right across the country.

At present, ABBTF has 200 apprentice vacancies and is conducting interviews, work ready courses and trials to improve apprentice starts.

Contact Geoff Noble on 03 9556 3033 or for the ABBTF office in your State, call 1300 66 44 96.


Geoff Noble
Australian Brick & Blocklaying Training Foundation Ltd



32 Responses to “The Facts on the Bricklayer Shortage and Pay Rates”

  1. Phillip hyde

    The reason for shortage in industry is not new but getting worse,due to a number of factors one builders force down rates to unreasonable levels when work is not plentiful,with young apprentice at taffe for to many days per year and other conditions you have to pay,as well as rainy days that plays a big part in the down fall of bosses having to foot the bill….which you can’t sustain during the three years there at taffe ,and in resent times my experience with young Australian males,they don’t wont to work hard anymore,they come to work and ask wots there entitled to pay wise instead of showing what they can do and with no promise of a commitment,soon there will be no white Australians doing this job as they don’t wont to work hard anymore,recently i had a single mum 39 years of age load up a job with bricks in 33 degrees heat….she loaded up over 3500 bricks in one day……i can’t even get a fit 18 yeah old Aussie to do that for me… sad,come on young Aussie men,pull your finger out and have a go,and throw you xbox away for just one day and your phone,stop texting your mates for just 8 hours and just work for goodness sake

    • Rahul

      Hi philip. I want to take up the career but is it worth in Melbourne anymore. Contact me when free.

      • BAB

        Hi Rahul,
        Please contact us on 1300 66 44 96 to discuss your options for taking up this career. There are plenty of vacancies in Melbourne at the moment and FREE Work Ready Courses starting weekly around different locations. Like our Facebook page to receive these notifications:

  2. Phillip hyde

    The reason for shortage in industry is not new but getting worse,due to a number of factors one builders force down rates to unreasonable levels when work is not plentiful, with young apprentice at tafe for to many days per year and other conditions you have to pay,as well as rainy days that plays a big part in the down fall of bosses having to foot the bill….which you can’t sustain during the three years there at tafe,and in resent times my experience with young Australian males, they don’t wont to work hard anymore, they come to work and ask wots there entitled to pay wise instead of showing what they can do and with no promise of a commitment, soon there will be no white Australians doing this job as they don’t wont to work hard anymore, recently i had a single mum 39 years of age load up a job with bricks in 33 degrees heat….she loaded up over 3500 bricks in one day……i can’t even get a fit 18 yeah old Aussie to do that for me… sad, come on young Aussie men, pull your finger out and have a go, and throw you xbox away for just one day and your phone, stop texting your mates for just 8 hours and just work for goodness sake

  3. Akram Twil

    Hi Geoff it’s good to see that prices are rising but not in Victoria, I have had to give up laying bricks and so have many other bricklayers I know. Prices have gone down to 68c a brick which is totally unsustainable in which resulted in me going to another area. I think there should be some sort of regulatory body that controls the prices to stop the boom and bust periods.
    Regards Akram Twil

  4. Dickie

    There used to be stone masons. They were a respected and talented lot who demanded fair pay for there efforts and talents. They got good money, not only because their skills were high, but also because no one wanted to work that hard for poor pay. Then from the late 1980s onward people decided that unions and organised workers were bleeding the system. Bricklayers existed where stone masons once ruled. Bricklayers alowed the commercial marketeers dominant the landscape and screw down their prices. Now 25-30 years on everyone starts bemoaning the fact that the industry can no longer attract workers, no longer pass on the skills (because the skills are gone) and no longer hold the prestige they once had. No government in recent history has done anything but screw the industry down. Now the public have to face the facts. The trade is now dead. Have a look at the churches across the southern states. There are vey few people left in the trade that could build a church from scratch anymore. The skills are gone and it is a long way back for that ever being available again.

    • Miles

      LOL CHURCHES??? I can’t find a Brickie that can set out a footing! Or even another trade that knows what a surveyors peg is let alone what its for!reading a plan forget it and laying a window Cill almost impossible

    • Jeff Larsen

      I’m a bricklayer been in the trade for 8 years on the wall for 6 and I love it some days I’d pay to build what I’m building its so much fun.

  5. Bruce Woodfield

    Bricklaying rates in South East Queensland (and I suspect all of Australia excluding WA) are the same as they were 10 years ago. Skill is not recognised, Rates are driven down to the lowest common denominator, the poorest quality workmanship. Pricing power is in the hands of the Builders and Developers who have difficulty differentiating one bricklayer from another. (They are all the same so pay the same). The Brick and Block laying trade is fragmented, under capitalised three man teams projecting low levels of image and negotiating skills. Large teams go out of business very quickly.
    The brick/block laying industry is under pressure. Design trends are moving towards medium density and articulated construction, with less bricks/blocks and more complicated brick/block work per dwelling unit. As house building trends move more towards small block, zero boundary and double storey, brick/block work is more fragmented, more complicated and much slower, with less bricks per dwelling unit but much greater skill levels required. The average dwelling unit is now taking 2-3 man days longer to lay with no recognition in the pricing for the labour time. It is also a trend in the industry, to push responsibility as far down the subcontractor chain as possible. Hence the brick/block trade are now self supervising, once again without any financial recognition.
    The rate per brick/block pricing is driving the trade into extinction, with only older tradesmen (who are stuck in the only trade/skill set they know), left.
    Builders/Developers need to smarten up their Quantity Surveying/Estimating skills and accept a schedule of charge out rates from the brick/block layer tradesman. A schedule which includes charge-out rates for extras. Only then will brick/block layers be able to stop “navying” and operate a progressive and sustainable trade business and take on apprentices with pride. I can provide such a one page pricing schedule layout to any Central/Regional Master Builder/ Housing Association Subcontractor organisation who are sufficiently interested, to begin to address this issue before a whole trade collapses from lack of high level intervention

  6. Phillip hyde

    You must be getting screwed down big time Akram but not here however it does not take away from the fact that bricklaying is a unique industry and is not recognised by government departments or fair trading, there’s nothing ever in my experience to help train and bring more into the trade as we don’t have the resources to do so, only government handouts controlled by people who do not have a clue, only those in the industry should be having a say…no wonder all our manufacturers go off shore, too much red tape here, it all just gets a bit too much.

  7. Ivan

    When I first started laying bricks (25 years ago ) the cost of building a house was $2500 per square , bricks where about $400 per 1000 and to lay was around $450 per 1000 , a brickie earned around $150 / day. Now the prices are ( Vic ) house $13,000 / square , bricks $700 / 1000 , to lay $900/1000 and a brickie around $240/day . Guess where the big profits are going.

  8. mick

    same old story , have been hearing it for 40 years,…. this is our fault , we have allowed none qualified tradesmen into this industry with many of us training these boys , as for rates … all are happy when the rates are up but as soon as the industry slows all of us drop our rates to get work … not me Id rather stay home ….. if you all stayed together and said no to rate drops boycotting the builders that did not want to pay the true rate they would soon come around. …… we have the most prominent aspect of a build and OUR rate should reflect our expertise.

    • paul

      one of the most intelligent comments I have heard. Bricklayers are their own worst enemy

    • Matt

      Too right Mick, I’m so tired of the old this is our rates of pay, if you don’t like it find another builder. Building a new home is the biggest investment you will ever make and clients deserve to have a quality build no matter the market.

  9. Sunny

    Geoff Noble, you did a great post. The tasks of a bricklayer is not easy, bricklayers work on sidewalks, streets, homes, walls, and many more. As a bricklayer you could build anything from a chimney to a fireplace to entire buildings. But the charges of a bricklayers may varies from state to state. I really appreciate your post Geoff.

  10. John

    Been laying bricks for 31 years and there is definitely no respect for the bricklaying trade.
    It is extremely difficult to run a successful business with the rates far too low. The problem with bricklaying is by the time you are any good at your trade your body starts to slow down and you cant physically do it any longer, it is always the little things with bricklaying that makes a good brickie that cant be taught by anyone other than yourself which takes alot of experience, not just 5 or 10 years. I have employed plenty of brickies over the years and 95% of them cant do sills, piers, read a plan or even have their own transport to get to work.
    Some jobs builders expect to pay you the same rate as other jobs you have done for them.
    However each job needs to be priced by the bricklayer, this is why we are subcontractors.
    We know how much we need to charge on each job to run a successful business, however the rates we need to get will NEVER reach that point.
    I have 2 boys and I will never let them become bricklayers and endure what I have had to for the last 31 years, its sad because I actually love my job and it is the only reason I have been in it for so long. The rates were the same as they are now 18 years ago, this is when you could make money as you didnt have the same expense as you have now to pay for labour.I worked my butt off and got my builders licence and now do small renos and fences and some full builds, however I still lay bricks everyday and wish thats all I had to do,My prediction is bricklaying will still be the same in 20 or 30 years with more brickies coming from overseas as not many young Australians really want to be a brickie, they might do their apprenticeship just to get a job and get out of school, and then realise it is too hard and get out of it soon after that

  11. Dean

    I was a bricklayer for 15 years, I did love it and had a good time with the boys onsite. However it just became way to hard to survive financially. I have 3 boys and wouldn’t encourage any of them to become a bricklayer. I would imagine rates are still around the $30 per hour mark. I believe they should be double that. and until they are the same as a sparkie or a plumber, bricklayers are being ripped off.

  12. Shayne

    I have just recently moved to Queensland and know my rates are as much as I was earning in Sydney 10 yr ago. I also love my job.
    I’m starting a facebook page for Bricklayers and with a few meetings I’m hopeful we as a group can rally and get the rates, ( equal rates ) for the brick or hourly rate as in Sydney! If interested plz reply and I’ll contact you

  13. Mick

    Simple. $55an hour for the suburbs $65-$70 in the city. Why brickies still work on a price beats me.

  14. Mick

    If the builders don’t like that,tough cya later. Get a roughie in, receive poor workmanship and spend money fixing up his stuff ups later.

  15. Al

    I am an owner builder and realise that there has to be a building trade. The problem is that once someone gets a ‘ticket’ they turn for the worst. Whether you did five years through TAFE or five years with a brickie, at the end all I care about is getting a good job for the lowest possible price. The thing that has to be recognized by the industry is that it’s not rocket science and like any trade, you should only be doing it because you enjoy it, AND your good at it. If all brickies were responsible and conscientious, we would not be having this debate. I had rates of between 90c and $1.00 but then up steps a smart arse and quotes $2.00 a brick. As for paying on a weekly rate, ABSOLUTELY NOT! Aussies are too well known for being slack or worse. I can tell you for a fact on one occasion I caught the two laborers smashing (new)bricks so as to raise their number of bricks laid. I caught them because I did my research and was pre-warned, and sure enough, I was rewarded. So guys stop bleeting, you guys clean up your act and you just might cop a little more respect and in turn, money.

    • BAB

      Hi Al,
      I’m not sure which State you’re in but all States are different and costs are rising at different rates depending on demand – and remember this blog was written early 2015 and bricklayers have been in high demand especially in Sydney since then. However, I appreciate your frustration with quotes that are 100% on your previous bricklaying job quote and the bad experience you’ve had with labourers! Like in any industry there are a small number of operators in our trade who will bring down the reputation of all. They are the opportunists who’ve come out of the woodwork when demand is high, usually not trained and producing poor work which will need rectifying sooner rather than later.
      Our advice to the vast majority of reputable, respected bricklayers is go on quoting the job in detail, present the quote professionally, offer ideas, other skills that add value and are part of the service, do a job you’ll be proud of and charge a fair but true rate that will deliver you the profit you need to make it worthwhile. Al, you might need to cast your net a bit wider – there are plenty of good bricklayers out there for you to partner with. Ian Stoneman, CEO, ABBTF

  16. Bill Tambakis

    I do agree that the high volume builders are screwing down the brickie’s pay rates. They’ve been doing this since Noah was a tadpole. While we’re getting $1.20 / $1.30 per brick on average here in Melb. The allowances for your extras hasn’t moved up in the last 18 years. For example the price per metre ( linear ) for sills is still $18 / $20. Piss poor. And what about the quality of the bricks these days? Bloody hell, I’ve seen bananas that are straighter than some of the bricks I’ve had to lay! And don’t get me started on the rebates of the slabs these days! Thinking this has to do with the screwing down the rates paid to the slabbies.

  17. Coe

    Here in oklahoma I am part of a family of masons. Used to be a family business with my father as the boss and my 3 brothers. It’s just my father and me now. Per brick it’s as low as 17 cents per brick. Builders have an average pay rate of $250 per thousand bricks. Extremely low. We have not worked for a builder since 2002. 16 years ago. In the late 70’s we got $300 per thousand. It glows my mind how cheap the work is and looks now. As a business plan we just fix whatever the cheap guys do. Its ridiculous what’s going on out here. In the middle of downtown Tulsa a brick building went up and every brick on the job was a mod brick and layed like a king brick quarter bond. Every opening and corner there had to be a cut bc aa a brick later we all know a mid should be laid half bond. It’s so embarrassing to see brick jobs look horrible. It blows my mind to see a nice home built and what they do on the outside with masonry looks horrible.

  18. Fergus

    Been a brick layer in england for over 40 years,had some ups and downs however you. can certainly earn some very good money if willing to work .Standard over the years slipping very badly,would be very careful in buying new build property..

  19. Ian

    HI aussies you need to be a brick layer in Ch-Ch Nz Im a builder and I am sick of having to pay $70-$80 a sqm. I got a quote back the other day for 120sqm house which take s two guys 7days to complete they quoted me $12 k. If you do your maths over a forty hour week this is 7 days at 56 hours rounded up to 60 hours. This is $200 an hour. Qualified builders get $30 an hour. And they never really have contracts and are never really take responsibility for their work and get away with it. You guys are bricking in the wrong country and it never really goes over 30deg in summer mayby a few days a year.

  20. David

    I think the problem rests with builders and how they keep upping their rates. It means we all have to, and it hurts the end consumer.

  21. Matthew Curtin

    Hey John ( November 14, 2016) – I have been laying bricks for 30 years and agree with you 100%. I am proud to say ,though, that my son has followed me into the trade and I hope to one day pass the business onto him. It is a hard trade and it hurts physically but i LOVE it and kids these days are too soft to work that hard, but, WOW!! what a reward it is to say … “I built that, and that, and that”!!. Not many that spend their lives on computers , phones and gaming can say that these days.

  22. Sarah Smith

    Thanks for the bricklaying information. My brother wants to be a bricklayer. I’ll be sure to share the pay rates with him.

  23. Daniel

    I wish you could contact me now and we could talk I would like to help you out please text me back or call me at anytime day or night or it could be now

  24. Andrew Morgan

    Hi Geoff,
    How are you?
    Can you please suggest some materials about rain pipe at the roof of the house?
    How to maintain that?

    With Regards,


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