How to Get Started Finding a Construction Job Today
Picture this: employees working alongside advanced robotic technology, workers incentivized and rewarded based on productivity and a collaborative team environment powered by cloud-based project management software. From this description, you might think of a company in Silicon Valley or another fast-growth technology company in a major metropolitan area, but in actuality, this could easily describe construction jobs anywhere from New York to North Dakota.
Construction jobs have long been stereotyped. For instance, good old manual labor, dirt and mandated work attire of boots, jeans, hard hats and possibly flannel shirts come to mind when you think of a standard construction worker. And although the flannel shirts might still be a staple on jobsites, some construction workers might swap their denim for a suit and tie and hardhats for a smart helmet that mines data.
While the pigeonholing of construction workers is beginning to evolve, convincing the youngest generations entering the workforce today of this otherwise has not been successful. In fact, according to a recent survey of young people from NAHB, only 3% were interested in a construction trade for a career. But to hire a new generation of employees, the problem isn’t with the industry or the quality of jobs, but it’s with the perception of those roles in general. As an example, the survey cited the desire to have a less physically-demanding role (48%) and the idea that construction work is difficult (32%), as the two major factors why they didn’t want to enter the industry. But no longer the grueling manual labor-intensive industry that it used to be, making a career in construction is a great choice for young and aging workers alike.
Today, with over 9 million employees, the construction industry is a growing industry with a vibrant workforce.
Nonetheless, the labor shortage remains a massive problem for those actually hiring with over 80% of contractors reporting they can’t find the skilled workers they need. With such a large percentage of young professionals refusing even to consider a career in the industry, the future of the labor shortage continues to look bleak. But the good news is, with the right research and skills, there’s a construction job waiting for you to fill.
But, why really should you consider a construction job? Whether you’re looking to get into a new trade, picking your career path for or after university or looking to start working right after receiving your GED, construction offers tons of opportunities for workers at many stages in their careers. Below, we’ll discuss five reasons why construction is absolutely worth considering as a competitive career path, as well as provide tips on how you can begin to find your role in the industry. If you already know the benefits of a career in construction, skip ahead to learn how you can get started in construction jobs today.
5 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Career in Construction
1. No More Job Hopping: Career Stability
Despite the massive labor shortage, construction needs are on the rise around the world. As just one example of the growth of the industry, data collected by Sageworks found that seven of the top 10 industries with the highest sales growth rates are related to construction including building finishing contractors, residential and nonresidential builders, mechanical systems contractors and civil engineering construction companies. Even better, the firm found growth in all related sub construction categories that they were tracking. Simply said, construction needs and jobs are growing steadily, and if you’re looking to enter a new industry with untapped potential, construction could be your answer.
Additionally, although some industries fear that advanced and emerging technology will make their jobs obsolete, robotics do not pose a threat to the building industry. In fact, construction companies are embracing innovation and actually need more workers to operate advanced machinery so they can build faster and more efficiently. It’s safe to safe, for those entering construction jobs in the near future, you can most likely anticipate job security for many years.
2. Pay Your Bills: Salaries Are on the Rise
A large reason many millennials aren’t entering the construction workforce is due to the idea that it involves extremely hard work for very little pay. Contrary to this myth construction salaries are on the rise. And as a whole, construction worker salaries are expected to continue to steadily rise in future years.
Just in the last year, staff wages were expected to rise by 3.4%, another increase from the previous year.
As one of the highest-paid trade workers in the nation, at an average salary of nearly $95,000 a year, construction managers can even make as much as some engineers and computer programmers. More food for thought, if you’re considering a construction manager job in a large metropolitan area or at a larger company, your salary could even soar upwards to around $150,000 annually.
Of course, for those with a university degree and seeking a job in an area like project management or civil engineering, salary trajectory is solid, even right after graduation. However, unexpectedly, construction workers without a college degree can benefit from income security with industry median salaries up to around $80,000 a year for certain jobs. Some of the highest-paid careers with no four-year degree required include:
- Elevator installers and repairers
- Construction equipment operators
Of course, pay is also a factor of the market you’re located in. While a construction professional might make a decent salary in a city like Seattle, it could vary significantly for a similar role in a city on the east coast. To see which U.S. markets are paying the highest for construction jobs, you migh want to take a look at this post “10 Highest Paying Cities for Construction Jobs [SlideShare].”
If a salary is an employment concern for you, construction offers more stability than many other industries with the opportunity to excel, with and without a four-year degree. Want to learn more about the top construction careers for those with and without a degree? Check out the following post: “13 of the Top Careers in Construction.”
3. Futuristic Feels: The Industry is Getting Technical
Even if construction salaries are appealing, you might be concerned with the tools of the trade. For instance, if you’re thinking massive reels of blueprints, hammers and nails, aren’t items you’d like to deal with on a day to day basis, you’d be mistaken in your mindset. The manual construction tools and processes of yesterday are very different from the highly-technical applications and devices emerging on jobsites today. As construction projects get more advanced and more stakeholders are involved, technology has become a necessity on jobsites and gives workers the opportunity to learn and apply new skills.
Just look at the construction technology ecosystem mapped out by thought leader, McKinsey & Company:
For construction jobs, this means that workers will have new opportunities to work with advanced technology firsthand. Some of the standard “tools” of construction now include mobile construction software and document management systems and disruptive technology like BIM and drones.
Furthermore, skilled field workers are now operating some of the most sophisticated machines in the market making construction sites look more like a futuristic scene than a jobsite. The good news is that the future will continue to get bright with technology use on jobsites. The industry is just finally making the digital transition and construction professionals are wising up on the improvements to their bottom lines that they can only achieve with the help of technology. Even if you’re not committed to a long-term career in the building industry, a solid construction job in the short-term could provide you with the skills and competitive edge to take with you to your dream career later.
4. Not Your Grandfather’s Workforce: A Changing Labor Market
Due to the influx of technology and career opportunities that construction offers, the workforce is evolving. As a result, more women and minorities are choosing to take jobs in construction. The industry currently has a large Hispanic representation and companies are already rethinking their strategies to recruit and retain more women talent. Although the industry still has ways to go to make significant improvements in training and recruiting to create a more balanced workplace, they are surely making changes for the better.
In addition to the industry getting more diverse, it’s also getting younger. With more Boomers on the verge of retirement, companies are actively recruiting more Millennials for construction jobs to fill their roles. For a Millennial looking to start a career right after high school, construction is one of the few industries where it’s possible to begin without four years of college. Even for those finishing up a degree, there are plenty of apprenticeships and internships available to give younger generations a taste for what construction jobs are really like.
5. No Desk Required: Non-Traditional Jobs with High Worker Satisfaction
Let’s face it, the 9 to 5 work cubicle environment simply isn’t for everyone—but the idea of it might be so ingrained in your mind (or your parents’), that it’s hard to think about a career where a desk isn’t your main station. Although some construction professionals still have a steady desk job, many construction jobs are done outside the office and trailer. Whether you’re in the field or meeting with other project stakeholders, careers in construction are more often than not very active and involve engaging in many face-to-face conversations to solve problems.
Even better, construction workers find a certain job satisfaction not many other works can say the same—the chance to see their work put into physical motion. Imagine driving by a skyscraper or massive hospital and knowing you played a role in making that structure a reality. To watch your plans be built or to be the worker doing the actual construction, can be an incredibly fulfilling experience. As a matter of fact, it may just be one of the reasons why construction workers are among the happiest employees.
Overall, construction is far from a traditional job and depending on your trade or role, you can find a job that’s extremely mentally and physically fulfilling.
If your interested is peaked from these top benefits of working in construction, you might want to start exploring how to break into the industry. Whether or not you believe a construction job is in your future, it also never hurts to explore your options. Below, here’s how you can start to explore or find a job in construction with or without a college degree.
With No Degree
- 1. Brush up your resume: Before you begin, make sure you have your resume in order. Draw on any relevant work experience from the past. Have you ever volunteered? Consider all of the work and projects you’ve contributed to beyond jobs you were just paid for.
- 2. Search smarter: If you’re searching for jobs online, look for construction jobs that advertise little to no experience required. You might even want to start searching for terms like “general labor” or “construction labor” to get started in an unskilled position. You can also look for short-term or seasonal jobs. Even short experiences can help you determine if you like the industry without a long-term commitment, or at least get your foot in the door.
- 3. Contact a temp agency: Not all jobs are advertised online, and temporary staffing agencies might have other opportunities available you’re not aware of.
- 4. Consider a trade school or applying for an apprentice job: If you absolutely know you want to be in the construction industry, you should think about entering a trade school or applying for an apprenticeship. With specialized classes and training, you’re more likely to get your career off on the right foot.
With a Degree or Working to Get One
- 5. Choose your major and classes wisely: If you know exactly what kind of job you would like to have in construction, make sure you’re on track in your program. Find a mentor in a professor if you don’t already have one. If you haven’t chosen your major but know construction is where you want to be, try to talk to recent graduates in the field and listen to their thoughts and experiences.
- 6. Become an intern: Internships are some of the most valuable work experiences you can get as a young professional—in or out of college. The best part is that since most internships are short term, you don’t have to feel like you’re committing to a major career path.
- 7. Attend a job fair: If you’re a recent college graduate or graduating soon, attend a job fair. You’ll be able to see what kind of jobs are in the market and what your odds are of landing certain gigs right with just a degree.
Why Not Consider a Career in Construction
So, why consider a job in construction? More like, why are you not considering construction jobs right now? With opportunities and salaries on the rise, a chance to gain valuable cross-industry technical skills and to be part of an active and diverse workforce, what’s not to love? Construction could become the dream job you never knew you were looking for; so start your research and explore a career in the industry for your future today.