The construction industry can be an exciting and rewarding field. Whether you've always been interested in heavy equipment or you're looking for a career that gets you out of an office and allows you to be active, construction is an excellent choice to consider.
Even though you might be drawn to some aspects of construction work, it's important to understand that the career might not be for everyone. This guide is for you if you're wondering if you should go into the construction field. We'll cover some essential topics like what skills and education are needed for construction work to help you decide whether this challenging career is a good fit for you.
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When you're considering a possible career path, the first place to start is your personality, likes and dislikes. Some personality traits and skillsets translate well into the construction field. Here are a few of the top signs that you could be a good fit for a career in construction:
Did you enjoy tinkering with models when you were younger or even as an adult? Do you learn best when you have a physical object or situation to examine and explore? Do you enjoy using hammers, saws, levels, drills and other tools? If you like working with your hands to find solutions, construction could be an excellent fit.
Construction workers use critical thinking and physical perception to accomplish their work every day. Construction equipment operators use their knowledge of mechanical processes to drive their machines effectively.
Enjoying home improvement projects is another sign you would thrive in the construction trade. Do you constantly find projects around your house? Many individuals turn to a professional when their faucet stops working or their door hangs crookedly. If you choose to find your own solution instead, you'd probably be interested in construction-related projects.
Working on home improvements is also active work. If you would rather not be tied to a desk and would instead enjoy being up and moving, this is another sign that you might find working in construction to be rewarding.
The construction field requires that people have a working knowledge of several trades, including carpentry, electrical and plumbing. The advancement of technology in construction is also bringing several changes to the construction industry. Construction workers will need to be open to having more automated processes, computer learning and robotic equipment on the job site.
Having an inherently curious mind will make these adaptions easier. If you enjoy learning about new topics and training to use new tools and technology, you will likely flourish in the changing construction field.
Your personality and interests are an excellent place to start. Individuals going into construction work will also need to develop additional skills to help them complete their tasks. You may already possess some of these abilities, while you can take training to gain others:
An essential part of any construction job is construction project management. Managing a construction job involves working efficiently, meeting deadlines and staying on budget. Often, construction managers handle most of the planning and other project details. However, there could also be an entire project management team involved in keeping every aspect of the job on track.
Completing a large-scale construction project requires everyone across multiple teams to work in unison and follow all specifications. Whatever your role on the job site, whether you help plan or you're on the ground every day, managing your tasks is essential. Construction workers need several skills to keep the project moving, from communication and time management and flexibility. When issues arise, everyone must adapt to ensure the work is completed.
Advancements in digital technology continue to revolutionize the construction field, and that trend will only grow in the future. As new developments make their way onto the job site, they help construction crews work more efficiently and safely. Workers who will take the time to learn how to use technology are invaluable to a construction site. If you bring a proficiency in technology with you to a construction job, you'll already be prepared to handle these changes.
Technology has changed several processes in construction, including:
To succeed in the construction field, it's essential you understand the mechanics of what you'll be doing on construction sites. Having a good awareness of the tools, materials and engineering concepts workers use will help you accomplish your work more efficiently.
Construction teams use a wide variety of equipment for different jobs, including small hand-held tools and heavy machinery. With a working knowledge of these machines, you'll have a head start on training. Some of the most used machines on the construction site include:
Another essential skill in the construction field is physical and mental stamina. Construction work is strenuous and workers should be in fairly good physical shape. Many construction jobs require workers to be on their feet for long hours lifting heavy materials and equipment and dealing with lots of noise and dust. For example, workers on a highway construction crew are often out in the hot sun for hours with few breaks.
Construction can also be mentally taxing. Crews may need to work through the night to complete necessary repairs. Workers also need to quickly calculate dimensions, adapt to a changing job site and maintain awareness of their surroundings at all times.
Finally, construction workers must also be enthusiastic about learning the skills they need for the job. Whether it's an advancement in technology, new tools or updated processes, the construction industry is constantly changing. Construction training is an essential step in a team's productivity and safety, but construction workers will also hone their skills on the job with continued training.
If you're willing to ask questions and proactively seek out new improvements and gain new experiences, you can deepen your skills and become a vital asset to any construction crew.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most positions in the construction field, especially for general laborers, require no formal training. At the least, an employer may ask for your high school diploma. However, if you are considering a career in construction in the future, there are a few things you can do right now to propel your career forward.
Preparing to work in construction can involve training in the following areas:
On-the-job training is usually included once you're accepted for a position in the construction field. However, knowing how to use certain tools and heavy equipment can make you more marketable to companies and give you an advantage once you're working on projects. With a working knowledge of certain kinds of equipment, you can enter the job site with more confidence.
Some people interested in construction jobs learn about equipment handling through apprenticeship programs and equipment certifications. These programs combine hands-on training with classroom education in certain vocational topics. Working as an apprentice can also provide valuable on-the-job experience operating heavy machinery.
Construction work poses various hazards. While many companies are finding innovative ways to promote safety throughout the worksite, injuries can still occur. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), struck-by objects incidents are a leading cause of injury on the job site. Construction workers are also exposed to hazards like falls, back injuries from straining to lift heavy items, electrocutions and more.
It's essential that everyone on a job site has a safety-first mindset. Hazard communication and safety instruction are generally part of the on-the-job training you would receive as a construction worker. However, it's also helpful to receive training or educate yourself on:
If you need to sharpen your mechanical, engineering and technical skills before heading into the construction industry, it's also beneficial to enroll in vocational programs or trade school before pursuing a construction job. Specific positions like plumbers and electricians require this type of training, although other construction workers could also find it helpful. Trade school programs generally take a few months to a couple of years and can provide foundational knowledge of construction-related tasks.
You may find these classes helpful if you are interested in a career in construction:
Construction workers can also continue their education by obtaining certifications and licenses in specific tasks like building scaffolding or welding. If you want to pursue a management or engineering position, you'll need more advanced schooling from a university or college.
You've learned a lot about the requirements needed for success in a construction job. Now you might be wondering, “Should I go into the construction field?” The decision is yours, though if you have some of the abilities discussed above, you would likely make a good fit. You can also consider a job in the construction field if you want:
The construction field is itself already broad. Whatever you choose to pursue within construction, you'll have a variety of career paths to widen your options. A career in construction could include any of the following areas:
You'll also find many opportunities within one construction job. Every day on the construction site provides new opportunities. You may also choose to travel a lot, either outside of or within your home state. Whether you stay close to home or venture farther away, you'll never get bored. Each day and project brings its own set of challenges, meaning you'll constantly learn new things.
The construction field is projected to grow at about 6%, providing excellent job security. General growth in the private and public sectors leads to greater demand for new bridges, roads, businesses, homes and other structures. According to recent data from the BLS, there are currently over 300,000 construction job openings across the United States.
With so many positions to fill and increased demand for construction projects, construction workers can also expect good wages. The BLS reported that the median annual wage for construction workers in the United States is over $48,000, which is above the average annual wage across all occupations. Some positions make a higher average wage, including carpenters, inspectors, heavy equipment operators and electricians.
Over time, construction can be an avenue to lifelong career success. Whether you choose to stay in a heavy equipment operator role or pursue higher management positions, you can build a stable career in this demanding and rewarding trade. You can move into positions like foreman, superintendent, construction manager and more, or start your own contracting business. With hard work and dedication, the possibilities are endless.
Construction work is valuable and often creates structures that will be there for generations. If you enjoy seeing visible results of your hard work at the end of the day, a career in construction could be right for you.
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