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Career paths in construction: there’s more than meets the eye

CementThe construction industry holds a number of stigmas that usually prevent people from pursuing a job in the field – it’s a dirty, dead-end job for people that didn’t go to school or couldn’t find work anywhere else and pays poorly.




Sure, if you work out in the field you’re going to get a little dirty, what do you expect? But a career in construction isn’t limited to drop-outs or amateurs. A lot of schooling is involved in becoming a skilled tradesperson and it’s certainly not a job for the inept. There are ways to climb high up the corporate ladder and put your talents to good use. Some tradespeople enjoy working and troubleshooting in the field, but if you believe that’s your only option, think again.


Click here for an example of how you can flow through the trades to reach the career you’re looking for and see below what a few of those paths entail.



To become a skilled tradesperson it’s imperative to attend a technical school and go through an apprenticeship program. This combines school work and hands-on experience to get a feel for the trade. You can then work your way through other field positions as a journeyperson and a licensed mechanic.


Field Management

This status includes leadmen, foremen, or superintendents who oversee the apprentices, journeypersons, and mechanics. A field manager is on the job site every day to ensure a project runs smoothly and the work is completed with a focus on high quality. Field managers are effective communicators who are able to delegate and possess knowledge of safe work practices.


Project Management

A project manager also oversees projects but spends some time in the office handling paperwork and working directly with the construction managers, engineers, and architects. Jobsite visits are frequent and some project managers spend the majority of their time in the temporary trailer on site. Basic skills for project managers include scheduling and planning, costing, safe work practices, contract management, and leadership.



Estimators are responsible for reviewing project plans, visiting job sites prior to the start date, and preparing cost estimates. Knowledge of materials, building systems, building design, and construction contracts is necessary. They also work with the owner, architect, and engineer to make sure all costs and specifications are satisfied before a bid is submitted.



The construction industry is very dangerous so having a safety professional within the organization, or at least an outside consultant for all projects, is crucial. They’re responsible for site inspections, safety training, and implementation of safe practices and processes.


Office Personnel

There are many positions that fall under this umbrella and most require additional schooling and extensive experience. It includes administrative support such as a receptionist or assistant; financial support such as accounting supervisor, payroll coordinator, or chief financial officer; human resources and professional development positions that hire and train employees; or procurement manager responsible for handling shipments, purchasing, and tools.


Another stigma in the construction industry – it doesn’t pay well. And consider the cost of a university degree versus attending a trade school. Would you rather pay off loans that total an average of $40,000 a year or $2,400 a year?


The average salary for a construction tradesperson? $45,000. For electricians and ironworkers?$54,000.

What about the average salary for teachers? $38,000. For social services and counselors? $39,000. And salespeople? $30,000.


Here is an infographic with more information on career paths in the construction industry.



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