October is Careers In Construction Month, a month-long celebration that aims to increase public awareness of construction careers, inspire the next generation of tradespeople, and highlight the importance of the construction industry. Throughout the month, it is important to promote the viable and fulfilling careers in construction to those who may not have previously considered it. This will ultimately help to recruit the next generation of trades professionals. These careers are not only lucrative and rewarding, but are also of vial importance to building our society.
"The satisfaction and growth of watching the world being built are the most enjoyable aspects of construction. It is fulfilling to know that I was one of the chosen beings on this earth that gets an opportunity to live the life of a carpenter; someone who plays a major part in keeping businesses afloat and has the mental and physical ability to build, construct, and be apart of some of the establishments that we see standing today!"
KJ Jones-Jackson | Carpenter | EDA Contractors
Paths to Construction
Every tradesperson has a different path that brought them to the industry. For some, it is a lifelong passion that is passed down between generations and for others, construction is a career change later in life. Many first generation construction workers were high school graduates with no interest in college and chose to learn a trade instead. Ultimately, construction can be a career fit for anyone, and it is never too late to begin your journey into the industry.
"When I was in 8th or 9th grade, my parents were having an addition built to the house. I was so intrigued watching the process. I spoke to the contractor many times throughout the project, became friends, and ended up working with him, learning about general construction. That piqued my interest at a young age and my interest stayed ever since."
Jason Merlo | Project Manager | EDA Contractors
If you are worried about qualifications, one great benefit of the construction industry is that for a majority of the positions you don't need any prior experience or a degree to begin your career. Aside from a high school diploma, many entry-level construction jobs do not require formal experience to be hired. From there you can join an apprenticeship or complete training programs to develop your skills and diversify your knowledge. Regardless of what stage in life you are in life, there is nothing holding you back from starting a career in construction.
"My mother introduced me to a pre-apprenticeship program that helped me get into the industry. In hindsight, I truly believe that decision saved me from a path that was destined for destruction. Choosing this sustainable career path has provided me with skills and countless opportunities that helped provide a better life for my family and myself."
Kodi Nixon | Carpenter Foreman | EDA Contractors
Why Construction is So Rewarding
There are many rewarding aspects to a career in construction. First, it allows you to be a part of a team that creates something tangible. Being part of a team is what Receptionist and Administrative Assistant Evette Gross appreciates most, "Teamwork, I absolutely love it when a plan comes together! None of us is as smart as all of us." For many people there is a feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing a project from start to finish. Whether it be a school or a hospital, you will always be able to say that you played a part in the building's creation and find fulfillment knowing that it is something that is going to benefit the community.
Hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people see and use the things we build on a daily basis. So when that structure or whatever you built is still standing there for the next 30-40+ years, it brings a sense of pride, knowing that you helped make that."
Michael Mitchell | Carpenter | EDA Contractors
Another positive from working in construction is the job security and steady work opportunities. Demand for services in the construction field is constant. Between infrastructure upkeep, upgrades, and new construction, there is strong job security and chances for professional advancement. Additionally, job skills are easily transferable between employers if you are looking to relocate or just want a new job.
One more benefit from working in construction is the competitive pay. Construction workers earn a solid salary when compared to other industries. In fact, the average earnings across a range of construction professions is higher than the average US salary. The reason for this is that construction requires individuals that exhibit special skills and abilities. While you will need to put time into developing and honing these skills, most laborers complete their training at the jobsite, rather than going through time consuming, and expensive, training programs.
"I began to develop relationships with my project manager and VP and realized that construction management is what I wanted to do. Working with a team to accomplish a goal and achieve a successful project that is bigger than me is extremely fulfilling. I don't do this for a paycheck, I do it because I love it and it's meaningful to me."
Marvin Sandoval | Assistant Project Manager | EDA Contractors
Construction unions are organizations that represent workers in the construction industry, negotiating labor contracts with employers on workers' behalf and fighting for their rights. There are various advantages to joining a construction union including collective bargaining power. On behalf of its members, unions bargain for fair pay and benefits, safe working conditions, and job security. In comparison to non-union employees in the same business, this frequently results in higher salary packages. In addition, the majority of construction unions offer complete healthcare coverage as well as pension and 401 (k) benefits for retirees. These advantages can give you financial security and peace of mind about potential medical bills.
Job security clauses in union contracts are frequently included because they help shield employees from arbitrary firings and layoffs. To fire a union member, employers will need justification, while non-union employees are more likely to be fired without cause. Additionally, unions frequently provide members with training opportunities and apprenticeship programs. These courses offer practical instruction and aid in the development of the abilities required for workers to grow in the construction industry. Training is offered in trades such as roofing, carpentry, pluming, operational engineering, masonry, as well as other crafts.
Unions also play a huge part in career advancement. While unions provide skill development opportunities, they also provide opportunities to earn certifications and promotions in the industry. Furthermore, unions also provide great networking opportunities. Being a member of a union gives you access to a network of other construction professionals. This network can give significant contacts, mentorship, and opportunities for professional development.
"The love and respect for union labor was instilled in me from a very young age. My father was the president of a Teamster's Local for most of my life. He was an advocate for his members and what a true labor leader should be. I always wanted to work for the union in some way but my father pushed me to pursue college. A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to work as the purchasing agent for a heavy highway construction company and I absolutely love being in the industry."
Jessica DiLeo | Estimating Coordinator | EDA Contractors
Advice for Aspiring Construction Professionals
If you are considering a career in construction, there are numerous avenues you can take to achieve success. Whether you have been interested in pursuing a career in construction for a while or are transitioning from another industry, there will certainly be a learning curve, but the potential rewards are valuable.
"To someone getting into construction, it's a physical job that can be mentally challenging with the outcome affecting you spiritually. If you want to last and not hate going to work, have a good work ethic and keep fit mentally, physically, and spiritually because they all will be tested. Know that no question is a dumb question, always be open minded and willing to learn something, and never fear anything, especially failing."
Jason Whalen | Carpenter | EDA Contractors
Construction is an industry where you have to embrace constant learning and continuous improvement. The construction sector is dynamic, with ever-changing technologies, materials, and procedures, so always stay curious and try to absorb as much knowledge as possible. Apprentice and Shop Fabricator Nasir Venable stresses the importance of continuous learning, "The best advice I can give is to be present in the learning phase i.e. apprenticeship. I've been learning to allow room for improvement. Starting out I wanted to be able to learn as much as possible in a short period of time, but haste makes waste." Seek opportunities for training and growth to make yourself as versatile as possible. Versatility is an important trait in construction; the ability to take on a variety of jobs and operate effectively in different roles will set you apart. Develop a strong work ethic, prioritize safety, and establish a reputation for dependability and excellence. Carpentry Apprentice Andre Moore confirms that you must, "Commit to integrity and transparency, and you will be rewarded! Many construction workers who don't have the skills of others get further along with their careers simply because they are genuinely interested and willing to give 100%, so give 100% in everything you do and life will handle you well." In other words, you get out of your career what you put into it.
As we celebrate Careers in Construction Month, we encourage you to learn more about the exciting and lucrative opportunities available in the construction industry. Whether you're a recent graduate, exploring a career change, or simply interested in the prospect of a building career, construction is a world of endless opportunities, and there is a place for you!
During the month of October, take some time to recognize the people who have helped shape our world and develop our future. None of what society accomplishes would be possible without them. And if you're ready to set out on a journey that's full of creativity and tangible results, consider a career in construction. It might just be your calling!