Construction Jobs 101

Construction is one of the largest industries in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics expects the national job growth rate of 21% from 2010-2020. Not all construction jobs are about wearing a hard hat and swinging a hammer. Other occupations within the field include everything from management, finances, and planning. If physical labor isn’t your calling, don’t count the construction industry out.


If you like working outdoors and putting in a full day of physical labor, becoming a tradesman may be the career choice for you. This group of trades includes everything from carpenter to welder. Some education or apprentice training may be necessary for skilled trades such as cement mason, glazier, landscaper and tiler. The pay can be quite an incentive: Elevator installers and repairers earned an average yearly salary of more than $70,000 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Other well-paying paths include Boilermakers at $54,640, Electricians at $48,250 and Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters at $46,660. If none of these options sound right for you, consider becoming a Construction Manager.

Construction Manager

Construction Management or Construction Project Management (CPM) is aimed at “meeting a client’s requirement in order to produce a functionally and financially viable project.” CPM consists of the overall planning and coordination of a project, with control from beginning to completion. Functions of this position include quality, time and cost management as well as mathematics, public safety and human resources. This can be for any of the five types of construction: residential, commercial, heavy civil, industrial or environmental. A career in construction management necessitates secondary education such as an Associates or Bachelors’ degree, even a Masters or PhD. As with most careers, the level of education directly effects the salary earned. The median pay in 2010 was $83,860 per year according to BLS.

Cost Estimator

If you’re willing to obtain a Bachelor’s degree, becoming a cost estimator could be the right career choice for you. Cost estimators collect and analyze data in order to estimate the amount of money, time labor and/or resources required for construction projects. Estimators can specialize in a specific product or industry type. Positions as a cost estimator are expected to grow much faster than the all-job growth rate: cost estimators should grow 36% from 2010 to 2020. While cost estimators may spend the bulk of their time in an office, travel to job sites is necessary. In 2010, the median salary for cost estimators was $57,860 annually.

Even if you’re not willing to chance an asbestos related death as an asbestos-remover or don’t want to carry heavy loads to and from job sites, there could be a career in the construction industry waiting for you. These are all careers within the construction industry: boilermaker, carpenter, carpet layer, dredger, electrician, elevator mechanic, fencer, glazier, heavy equipment operator, insulation installer, ironworker, laborer, landscaper, mason, millwright, painter, pile driver, plasterer, plumber, pipefitter, sheet metal worker, steamfitter, sprinkler installer, or even a welder. With a bit of research and education you can find the career that’s just right for you.


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