Yes, Lego Master Builder is a real job with a real salary. So what do they do? Every day is different when you are a Lego Master Builder. Today you might be giving a demonstration at a discovery center, tomorrow you are working on a life sized Batmobile and next week you have to finish up a Minecraft set for next year.
This is definitely one of the coolest jobs around, but it is also one of the most competitive jobs in the world. The Lego Group is highly selective when it comes to the title of Master Builder. Currently there are about 50 in the world and just 15 in North America. That means in the US there are twice as many NFL starting quarterbacks, as Master Builders. So... How do you become a Lego Master Builder?
How To Become A Lego Master Builder
Getting the title of Lego Master Builder is the culmination of a lifetime of building. It is usually earned by winning a contest (we will talk about these later) against some of the best builders in the world. To prepare for a contest will take many, many years of practice. Fortunately by practice I mean Lego building. So if this is what you aspire to do, then let's get started.
Build And Learn
The first step toward becoming a Lego Master Builder is to build anything and everything. Start with any set you own or can buy. Build it and rebuild it. Each of these sets has been carefully designed and has lots of techniques you can learn from. Look at the design and try to understand how their choice of elements is reflected in the design. Did they use any pieces in a unique or unexpected way?
Next, spend some time building the sets you don't like. I know this sounds confusing, but stay with me. If you love building Lego City, then you have probably made a lot of cars and trucks. Have you made a robot? Or a castle? As a Master Builder you will be called to create all kinds of different models. Some may be for a specific project or theme, so you have to be versatile and able to build it all.
Finally, build with others. Building together with friends will help you improve in many ways. You will have the chance to build more sets and see more techniques. You will learn from each other and gain new insights. Also, you will have to work with other builders if you get the job. So you should get used to it.
This might sound expensive, but it doesn't have to be. There are lots of great ways to get cheap bricks. You can quickly run them through a Lego sorter and you are ready to build almost any model for a $100.
Lego Sorting Tip
No Lego Master Builder works out of a mixed up bin. It would be far too difficult and time consuming. So before you begin your training take some time to get organized. This doesn't have to be a long or expensive project, but it is really important. Take a look at our FREE Lego Sorting Guide for more information.
Design Your Own Models
Next you will learn how to make custom Lego sets. This is a really fun adventure that can take you in lots of directions. I would not recommend trying to build custom creations without sorting your Lego first. You need to be able to find the brick you want, fairly quickly. Otherwise it will be too frustrating and you will either change the design to fit what you can find, or quit build it.
Now, assuming your bricks are sorted, the first thing you need to decide is what you are going to build. Begin with a variation on something you are familiar with.
Ex. If you build lots of Lego Creator modular buildings, they maybe start with a building façade of your own. Choose a building you are familiar with and make sure you can find lots of great pictures. This way you are learning how to turn a picture into a model. It is much easier to learn this first, before creating a totally custom design.
When you are ready to move on, it is time to create a totally custom build. This means making something out of bricks, that doesn't exist in the real world. It could be a haunted house or a new type of plane.
This should be something that you can't find an exact picture of, because it is your creation. It can be very helpful to use pictures for inspiration, but the goal is something new. At this level most builders organize their collection, making each element easy to find.
The mini city build above was designed by gabizon. It is posted on Rebrickable, a site dedicated to custom Lego Builds. If you need inspiration when working on your build this is a great place to go. I recommend creating a first design before going here. Otherwise it is easy to end up copying parts of a design, instead of creating one.
Once you have a model you like, rebuild it over and over. If you are short on bricks of the right color, you can substitute other colors for now. I find it is easiest to get the layout of bricks finalized before worrying too much about colors. Then I like to take the design into Studio 2.0 (a Lego digital design program) and play with the colors till I get them right. You will want to do this process of redesigning, over and over till your builds starts looking good. If you don't have all the elements, hop onto Bricklink and price the missing bricks out.
Create A Portfolio
Before entering any of the Lego Master Builder contests, you will need a portfolio. So what is a portfolio? It is a collection of photos that show off your Lego MOCs (My Own Creations). This is what shows a judge that you can build well enough to be considered for the contest.
So how do you build a great Lego portfolio? Well... hopefully you have been building, a lot. And hopefully you have been taking pictures of your builds, lots of pictures. These pictures need to show off what you have done, your best builds.
Yes, it would be nice to have a photography studio with great lighting to take your pictures. But it is definitely not necessary. The judges are not looking for a great photographer. They want a great builder. So your pictures just need to be good enough to show that. Make sure your designs show off different skills. You can build a Lego wall and create some mosaic art, or a Lego table to design your city.
I would take my favorite pictures and put them on the message boards of Bricklink or Eurobricks. Both of these forums have great builders and most are very helpful. This will give you a little perspective on what is your best work, and where you can improve. If you did anything really unique or creative in your build make sure there are some good close up pictures of it.
Get Your Foot In The Door
Even the best builders are regularly rejected for these contests. So how do you stand out? Well.. it's not what you know, but who you know. So get to know somebody.
Become a regular at the nearest Lego Discovery Center and enter all the contests you can. (These don't lead to Master Builder title, but will get you some notoriety) Get to know the employees, if you can, meet the Master Builder.
If you really want to work there, get a job, doing anything. This could be at a Discovery Center, Theme Park, or even just a Lego store. You will still have to be a top notch builder, with an amazing portfolio, to be considered. But having someone on the inside pulling for you, won't hurt either.
Enter A Contest
There are two main contests that lead to the title of Lego Master Builder. The Master Model Builder contests which are held at Legoland Discovery Centers, and Lego Masters, the FOX reality show. Both are really tough.
The Discovery Center contests are only held when there is an opening for the position. One comes up ever few years, as someone gets promoted or leaves the company. When that happens it will probably not be anywhere near you, so be prepared to travel.
Applications will be accepted for about a month, so you will need to have your portfolio ready. If your application is accepted, you will be invited to a live building contest. There you will face off against other builders in a series of creative Lego challenges. At the end of the day a panel of both adults and children will choose 10 contestants to move on the next day. Those chosen will meet the following morning for one more day of building and judging. At the end a Lego Master Model Builder will be announced and offered a job with the company.
The other contest is called Lego Masters. Hosted by actor and producer Will Arnett. This FOX TV series premiered in February of 2020. On the show 10 teams of two Lego Enthusiasts compete in a series of challenges. Each week a team is eliminated until the final show when the winners are given the title of Lego Master Builder. (plus $100,000)
Season 1 is over, but it is official now, season 2 is open for applications. Here is the announcement.
Are you a LEGO brick building genius ready to become a master?
Can you create unique and inspirational builds from scratch?
Can you tell a story with your LEGO builds?
Teams of 2 will compete for the chance to hoist the Lego trophy
and become a Lego Master!
You can register as a pair or by yourself. You will need to include five of your best ORIGINAL LEGO builds. You will also need a 1-minute video that tells what you love about building with LEGO and why you should be on the next LEGO Masters. They don't list a deadline, but I would hurry since it can close anytime.
No Job Is More Fun
Lego Master Builder may not be the best paying job out there, but no job is more fun. I have spoken to a few Master Builders over the years and they all agree it is the best job they every took.
What Is The Job Of A Lego Master Builder?
The LEGO Master Builder is the ultimate creator who can make building fun and educational for Legoland guests. They lead workshops for younger Lego builders, teach education classes, design Lego displays and much more. To be a Lego Master Builder you must have both the talent to build with Lego and the ability to inspire other builders. Lego Master Builders also frequently attend media appearances and are always in the public eye.
Lego Master Builder Job Requirements
Lego prefers candidates have a background in some form of model making, although it is not required. You will also need to be able to read drawings and sketches pertaining to model production. Be fluent in digital programs to help with designing complex models. Have a passion for playing and teaching young children. And be comfortable speaking with the public or on camera. High School Diploma or GED is required.
Typical Day For A Master Builder
Talk to any Lego Master Builder and you will discover that no day is really the same. Some days are more focused on business, while other focus on building. But most days follow a similar structure. Like most jobs the day for a Lego Mater Builder often begins with email and meetings. Most of the work for Lego is done in teams so this requires lots of communication.
Fortunately these meetings are usually pretty fun and are full of bricks. It could be discussing a new line of Minifigures. Or planning a set to go with the newest Star Wars movie. Sometimes it is even brainstorming about new themes to explore. Each day you will be planning and building new ideas for Lego.
In addition most days also include some media and face to face work. This might be showing a TV crew around the newest attraction, or teaching a class with Duplo bricks. The Master builder is an ambassador of Lego and is required to share his joy with the public.
Lastly, the Lego Master builder spends a part of their time with focus groups. This is a really fun and important way to improve the product and become a better builder. Builders of all different ages and skill levels are brought in to build and play with new ideas being considered at Lego. These feedback sessions help the Master Builders to improve designs and discover the best direction for new themes.
Lego Master Builder Salary
Lego Master Builders aren't in it for the money, you can be sure of that. While the job might be rarer than an NFL quarterback the pay is far less. Typically a Lego Master Builder makes between $16-19 per hour plus benefits. That's a $35,000-40,000 annual salary.
Many of Lego's executives have come up through the ranks as a Master Builder. Being promoted to VP of Design could be a nice pay bump, so don't let the salary scare away your dreams. Lego can be a great career, but I wouldn't do it just for the money.
Lego Master Builder Academy Kits & Sets
The Lego Master Builder Academy (MBA) was a series of kits that were released from 2011-2013. These were designed to help Lego fans discover the techniques and strategies of Master Builders. Unlike a normal Lego set, these kits include a building instruction book, which explains each technique and how it was used in the build.
The 20 or so sets released were rated as Level 1-3 based on the skills needed to design. These kits were also designed to build more than one model with each set of bricks. Thus showing you many different things you can create with the same element.
Printable Lego Master Builder Certificates
My son dreams about becoming a Lego Master Builder. Creating fun and special toys every day. Right now he is 7, so that isn't coming for a long time. But it doesn't mean I can't have some fun and make him feel special.
Below are 2 different designs for Printable Lego Master Builder Certificates. You can download them and print them out, add the builders name, and date for a really fun and easy way to motivate your builder. The second one has an area for skill levels in case you want to make it a little competitive.
Ex. I told my son that he had to finish the Lego City Sweeper & Excavator (60152 ) on his own to make Level 3. He loved the challenge, and it gave me a few quiet hours to catch up on some work.
Download Full Size Printable Lego Certified Master Builder Award
Download Full Size Printable Lego Official Master Builder Certificate
Lego Masters | FOX TV Series
Lego Masters is the Fox TV reality series that premiered in February of 2020. It is based on the British series with the same name. The show begins with 10 teams of Lego Builders competing in building challenges to create original designs in a short time window. The Season 1 challenges included:
- 1Building a themed park that included at least one automated moving attraction.
- 2Inventing an alien Lego sculpture able to support itself, be carried around and then broken apart in a spectacular blast.
- 3Taking a household object that has been sawed in half and building a Lego structure that finishes the object while integrating a story.
- 4Creating a scene that fits with a specific movie genre. Then adding on to the existing build to blend in another genre.
- 5Choosing a vacant city block and creating new buildings over it. Then creating monsters to attack the city block.
- 6Creating a bridge out of Lego that spans a 6 foot distance. The goal was to support the most weight while remaining aesthetically-pleasing.
- 7Constructing a scene from a story written by children. Then adding a second page as the children choose things to add to the story.
- 8Choosing two Minifigures and building their hero / villain lair. Then creating a battle between their characters and another team's.
- 9Building a Lego structure of a droid from the Star Wars universe, complete with some form of robotic movement. Then reconstructing an iconic scene from the films.
- 10Developing any Lego art sculpture within a 24 hour window.
As mentioned above Lego Masters has been renewed for a 2nd season. There is no date scheduled yet for the shows to air, but applications are being taken for the next cast. So go for it, and best of luck. Aloha!!!