Why Should I Consider a Career in Construction?
• There are always jobs available in the construction industry
• You can earn good money quickly (through apprenticeship programs)
• You can build a lifelong career (advance through the ranks to become anything you want to be)
• You won’t get bored doing the same thing day in and day out
• You are always learning new things
• It gives you the opportunity to create and build, and use your skills to make it happen
• You can build the stuff the people depend on (like schools, hospitals and homes)
• You can see immediate results – watch your progress turn into a completed project
• You can create something that didn’t exist before, that will be there forever, that you can be proud of
• You can collaborate with a team, overcome obstacles, fix problems and build strong networks
• Construction is vital to the economy; the two industries are closely linked
• It creates jobs (for architects, engineers, maintenance companies, tenants and so on)
Some Interesting Statistics
• 87% of apprentices find jobs when they’re finished.
• It will take 39% of college graduates 10+ years to pay off their student loans
• 6.6 million Americans are employed by a construction trade annually
• The construction industry is projected to grow by 22% through 2022
What Do Construction Workers Actually Do?
Install, maintain and repair electrical equipment like transformers, lighting systems, wiring, controls, intercom systems and fixtures. Read blueprints and determine locations of circuits, panel boards, etc. Troubleshoot problems and ensure that work is up to code.
Help electricians by holding or supplying materials or tools, and cleaning work area or equipment. These duties generally require less knowledge of the trade.
Install, inspect or repair heating and air conditioning systems. Install electrical wiring and controls, and connect systems to fuel and water supply lines and air ducts. Test equipment to determine if repairs are necessary, and replace worn or defective parts. Follow blueprints to do the actual installation.
Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
Drive a tractor-trailer or truck with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds. Deliver supplies to and from jobsites. Requires a commercial driver’s license. May be required to unload the truck.
Plumbers and Pipefitters
Assemble, install and maintain pipes, pipe systems, supports, fittings, and fixtures or related equipment for hot or cold water, steam, sprinkling or industrial production. Troubleshoot pipe systems and repair or replace parts. Cut holes, hang steel supports, measure and cut pipe using cutters and saws. Ensure piping is up to code. Soldering may be required.
Plumber and Pipefitter Helpers
Help plumbers and pipefitters by holding or supplying materials or tools, and cleaning work area or equipment. These duties generally require less knowledge of the trade.
Install, take down, repair and move equipment and machinery according to blueprint design. Adjust and align moving parts, replace defective parts.
Construction Equipment Operators
Operate construction equipment including graders, scrapers, bulldozers, backhoes, lifts, tractors or front-end loaders. Move or place equipment and material. Inspect, refill and clean equipment.
Sheet Metal Workers
Fabricate, install and repair sheet metal products such as duct and pipe. Set up and operate fabricating machines, saws, plasma cutters and drills. Cut, bend and straighten metal. Read blueprints and specifications, determine what needs to be done and used, then measure and cut the material. Ensure accuracy.
Use equipment to join metal components or to fill holes or seams in metal products. Smooth and polish metal surfaces. Study blueprints and calculate dimensions. Inspect materials that need welding, monitor the process for overheating and maintain welding machinery and equipment.
What Does a (Journeyman, Estimator…) Do?
An apprentice learns a skill through both classroom instruction and supervised work on the job. Usually a four-year position. They will learn to use, handle and care for tools of their particular trade.
A journeyman has already completed an apprenticeship and can work independently. They know how to use and care for their tools, and can perform any task their trade requires. They have the ability to get a journeyman’s license.
A foreman has usually had years of on-the-job experience and knows the craft inside and out. They are responsible for supervising every aspect of a job. They may work directly with architects and contractors, and will need to know how to work with both management and labor. They will need to be good leaders, communicators, mentors, and teachers, keep the jobsite safe, read blueprints and fill out paperwork, and get the job done on time and on budget.
A construction superintendent oversees every phase of a project from start to finish. They supervise the foreman, but in a foreman’s absence they will serve as manager. They work closely with architects, engineers and other professionals, as well as laborers on the jobsite. They maintain records, inspect and approve work, communicate and enforce rules and safety procedures, and approve time cards and time off. They may also be involved in budgets and estimates, and select and assign workers to jobs and tasks.
An estimator is responsible for getting the best price that will win a contract for a job in a competitive bidding situation. They will research materials and labor costs, get quotes from suppliers and subcontractors, access risk levels, prepare and submit quotes for work, and make sure that costs are kept in line throughout the job. They will know how to use estimating software and programs, be comfortable working in a team environment, and realize that some long days may be required.
A project manager schedules and coordinates design and construction processes, often working on multiple jobs at once. They interpret contracts and blueprints, write proposals, report on work progress, fill out paperwork, and deal with unexpected issues and delays. They will work from the office but visit jobsites frequently, and will be working with architects, general contractors, trade workers, and occasionally government officials. They will know construction methods, software and technology, be able to meet deadlines, comply with codes, delegate tasks, explain technical information, and realize their job may not always be 9 to 5.