The construction sector comprises businesses that are engaged in the construction of buildings or engineering projects such as highways and utility systems. After taking a huge hit in the recent economic turndown, the US construction industry is largely recovered and is set to experience healthy growth over the coming years.
Construction work can involve building new homes, schools, and offices or adding to, altering or repairing ones that are already constructed. Within the broad umbrella of construction, there are many individual trades such as bricklayers and roofers. There are opportunities within the sector for unskilled workers right through to highly qualified and skilled workers with all levels of experience.
Choosing your construction career
Start by doing your research into the many types of jobs that are available in the construction sector. Do you prefer an office based job, something that is quite technical or would a role that was more hands-on suit you best?
Carry out a simple internet search first. Look at the jobs at Mr. Roof and if they appeal to you. There is information on everything from window contractor positions to gutter contractor positions. The skills, experience, and benefits of the various roles are detailed.
Find yourself some work experience with a construction firm. Network with people that you know who work in the industry, meet up with them and pick their brains. It is always useful to get an insider’s view. If you are skilled technically and mathematically you may like the idea of an engineering or architectural role. However, if you like working with your hands and in a team and do not have higher level qualifications you may prefer bricklaying or plumbing.
The beauty of the construction industry is that there are always entry-level posts available that require little or no experience or qualifications because you can learn on the job. This is often the best way to learn a trade or a skill because you get loads of hands-on experience as you are training.
A construction trainee, for example, would be required to show a willingness to learn and work as part of a team but would require little in the way of formal academic qualifications. A general laborer is required to be physically fit and able to use a variety of implements and tools.
Working hours vary but construction workers typically start very early in the morning and finish in the late afternoon. There could be site meetings and inspections so communication skills are also vital.
Health and safety in the construction industry
Unfortunately, the construction industry has one of the highest rates of accidents of all occupational categories. This is because of the nature of the work and a tendency amongst some workers to take unnecessary risk. Constructions workers are hurt because of:
Falls from a height. Many buildings are high and so the people that build them and who repair them have to work at height. They can fall from ladders, scaffolding, and poorly constructed platforms
Getting caught in machinery. Clothing and limbs can get caught in high-speed machinery and underneath heavy objects
Electrocutions. By live wires which could be overhead or buried in the ground
Being struck by objects. This could be unsecured debris or a trench collapse
The key to preventing these accidents is awareness and correct planning of the job.
What will you wear?
Construction workers are required to wear safety clothing to protect them from hazards on site. Typically, a construction worker would wear a hard hat at all times to protect them from falling debris. They would also wear high-visibility jackets, cargo trousers (with pockets for tools) and rigger boots with toe protection.
The advantages of working in the construction industry
There are many good reasons to choose a career in the construction industry. The jobs are plentiful so you are never likely to be unemployed. Also, thousands of the baby boomer generation are due to retire from their construction jobs over the coming decade which means that demand for your skills will go up even further. This should drive up wages which is good news for you. Salaries in the industry are already at a healthy level.
As a young person, you can start earning money right away. You do not have to spend years getting a college degree or diploma and rack up thousands of dollars in student debt. You can learn on the job and get paid whilst you study for a qualification. Your employer will probably pay your college fees for you and may let you have a day a week off to attend classes.
There is plenty of opportunity for promotion for those who work hard and are dedicated. With time and experience, you can build a highly successful career and reach the higher management positions. You could start off as a general laborer, then move on to foreman, superintendent, supervisor, project manager and eventually construction manager. As you climb up the promotion ladder your salary will increase in line with your extra responsibility. You can reach the higher salaries without having to swap sectors so a lifelong career with the same employer is possible.
If you would prefer to move around the country (or even the world) you can do that as well. Your skills and experience are portable. Everywhere has buildings and everyone wants them to be repaired. Your skills are valued in both rural and urban locations so you can choose where you want to live and not be constricted by your job.
Perhaps one of the most attractive features is the teamwork and camaraderie. There is a great sense of achievement to be had from being part of a team that has created a wonderful building or restored a derelict house. It is a tangible achievement that you can see and touch. There is a great team spirit on construction sites. You can work with people who have the same skills as you and alongside other tradespeople. You all learn from each other and work as a team to get the best result for your client.