Have you ever called in sick to work because you were too busy building Big Ben or the Death Star out of Lego bricks? Well, you won’t have to call in sick ever again (and I doubt you’d even want to) as a Lego master builder – a job where you get to play with Lego for a living!
If that sounds like the kind of career path you’d like to pursue, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about how to become a Lego master builder!
1. Research the Profession
I know you want to get straight to the juicy part, but the first thing on your agenda should be to get a clear and thorough understanding of what exactly this role entails. (This should help you determine whether you can really see yourself doing this job. Who are we kidding? Of course you can!)
A Lego master builder is, quite literally, someone who has mastered the art of building with Lego. They’re hired by the Danish toymaker to build all those amazing large-scale Lego sculptures you see at the company’s Discovery centres, 7 LEGOLAND theme parks, 132 retail stores and the many different events they help organise.
No typical day is the same. One day you could be speaking with media and participating in events, and the next you could be building a wedding cake topper or a full-scale replica of an X-Wing (this was done in 2013 using 5,335,200 bricks over 17,336 hours, becoming the largest Lego model ever built in history).
Essential Skills and Qualifications
To become a Lego master builder, you’ll generally need to:
- Be imaginative and have a creative flair (in other words, don’t follow the instructions on the box)
- Be able to see and do things differently
- Have great attention to detail
- Be passionate about the Lego brick in all its shapes and forms (as well as knowing the difference between a plate and a brick, and that three stacked plates equals one brick)
- Be mechanically inclined and be interested in how things work
- Be highly organised
- Be personable and have a sense of humour
- Be able to convey your message or instructions to others
- Have excellent leadership skills
- Be tech savvy – a significant part of the job is spent working on a computer using basic software or advanced programs
- Be a team player
For a really cool (and demanding) job, the pay isn’t exactly stellar – about $37,500 a year (just north of £28,000). But, if playing with Lego is more important to you than salary, then you’ll probably be willing to overlook this.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Let’s start with the disadvantages first:
- You won’t have the creativity to build whatever you want. In fact, creative freedom is often constricted to premeditated and corporate-affiliated themes such as Star Wars and Superman (which isn’t all that bad if you’re a fan). Builds also have to be kid-friendly, so zombies feasting on Minifigures’ guts is, sadly, out of the question.
- Everyone asks about your job – ‘everyone’ being the keyword here. Although you might enjoy the celebrity status in the beginning of your career, it can become annoying. Old classmates you haven’t spoken to in years will try to reconnect with you on Facebook and, suddenly, you’re the centre of attention at every family gathering.
- Even though they have a seemingly endless supply of bricks, Lego master builders also run out of specific pieces they need to build an installation. In other words, this doesn’t just happen to us mere mortals!
And now for the advantages:
- You get to play with Lego.
- You get paid to play with Lego.
With that, I think it’s safe to say that the advantages trump all the disadvantages of the job.
2. Get the Qualifications
Sadly, there’s no Hogwarts equivalent for Lego master builders (though, admittedly, that would’ve been awesome).
The good news is that there are no formal qualifications required to do the job. Having said that, though, holding a bachelor’s degree in an art-related subject (architecture, design, etc) or in engineering (mechanical, aeronautical, structural, etc.) is generally preferred.
You’re also expected to have some level of 3D modelling experience with programs like 3ds Max and AutoCAD, as you’ll spend a lot of time working on Lego's custom-built computer-aided design platform.
A well-organised portfolio can also prove helpful – it doesn’t necessarily have to be Lego; it just has to show off your creative skills.
3. Land the Job
If you’re ready to turn your hobby into your dream job, here’s how to go about achieving that.
Rise Through the Ranks
Although there’s no secret formula to becoming a Lego master builder, you’ll generally start as a model gluer trainee and then climb up the ranks. Chris Steininger, who is a Lego master builder with his father Dan (the only father-and-son duo in the world), started off in the company making the crates used to get Lego models shipped around the world. When things started slowing down, he was brought into the model-building side of things.
It took him about two years to make it as a Lego master builder, having first trained as a model gluer, then a model builder and a senior model builder.
Chris and his dad are two of just about 50 Lego master builders in the world. This basically means that the Lego Group is highly selective on who they hire into this coveted role.
Compete in Brick Factor
There’s another route to becoming a master builder at Lego. And that’s taking part in Brick Factor. If it sounds a lot like X Factor, that’s because it is.
Essentially, 100 Lego experts and fans take part in three action-packed challenges to earn the role of Lego master builder at a LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (as mentioned earlier, there are 7 in the world). The good news is that anyone can apply to join, though a background in Lego-building (and having made a name for yourself in the brick world) can prove useful. You’ll be encouraged to participate with the audience (yes, there’s an audience watching you the entire time) and each round is judged by a panel of experts with the top contestants advancing to the next stage until a winner is announced at the conclusion of the competition.
Where to Look
All vacancies are advertised on Lego’s job board, which lets you browse jobs in Europe, Asia, North America and Oceania. It’s also a good idea to follow the company’s social media pages, especially on LinkedIn, for suitable opportunities.
Do keep an eye out for Brick Factor announcements on regional LEGOLAND Discovery Centre webpages, too!
Referrals are not unheard of, but applications are generally made online directly to the Lego Group.
It’s the dream job of every overgrown child (I include myself in that group of people), but it’s definitely not easy to get in – it takes years of training, dedication and passion.
Do you have what it takes to become a Lego master builder? Perhaps you’re one of the lucky few to have landed this exciting job? Join the conversation down below and share your thoughts, tips and experiences with us!
Don’t forget to check out our list of other cool jobs for Lego lovers!
Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 12 December 2017.