Jack of all trades; always the first person to break out a toolbox. Other people see a pile of two by fours; you see a stack of pure potential. Sound familiar? Then grab a hard hat and seriously consider a job as a construction worker!
Construction jobs offer a wide variety of opportunities; whether you like building things or taking a sledgehammer to them, there's probably a construction job that will appeal to you. Highway construction, tunnel excavation, residential construction, commercial projects and demolition are just a small sample of the many positions available.
Each job comes with unique working conditions; from simple loading and unloading, to challenging heights, or exposure to hazardous materials, construction workers need to be prepared for anything! While projects can pause for inclement weather, you will need to be willing to work in heat, cold, rain, and just about anything else Mother Nature can throw at you. In return, you get a rewarding career that offers incredible variety, and provides plenty of opportunities to pursue the specialties that interest you.
Job Skills & Requirements
Education: There are usually no specific educational requirements for entry level construction workers. Apprentice laborers are often expected to have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.). If you plan to pursue construction, classes in English, math, physics, shop and welding can come in handy; many high schools and community colleges offer these courses.
Coordination: Balance, depth-perception and eye-hand coordination are all critical to keep you steady on high beams and your fingers clear of chop saws.
Strength and Endurance: You'll need to keep up and pull your weight (and then some) day after day. Make sure you're physically up to the task before you sign up!
Hours vary by job, location and season. Indoor gigs might run year-round, whereas outdoor construction may have to pause for winter. Highway construction often happens during the night shift, while new home construction will have you working a more nine-to-five schedule.
Dress the Part
For construction interviews, khaki's and a collared shirt are a good idea. On the job you'll likely be wearing jeans, a t-shirt and layers in case of cold weather. Don't forget sunscreen and bug spray if you'll be working outside, they might be the most important thing you put on that day.
“Construction is a dead-end job.”
Welding, scaffold erecting, concrete finishing and other special trade certifications are available for construction laborers who want to pursue particular areas within the industry. If you have a firm grasp of project estimates, computer skills, and you can communicate effectively with subcontractors and clients, then you may have a future as a general contractor or labor supervisor. An ability to communicate in both English and Spanish is becoming important for all construction workers (particularly supervisors) as the number of Spanish-speaking workers grows.
- Electrician (Averages $22/hour)
- HVAC Technician (Averages $20/hour)
- Plumber (Averages $22/hour)
- Maintenance Worker (Averages $16/hour)
- Forklift Driver (Averages $15/hour)
Staying active - This job will keep you on the move throughout the day
Learning opportunity - You'll have a chance to check out many different trade skills
Low investment – typically there are no educational requirements for entry-level positions
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