It’s a great time to go into construction. The economic recovery has prompted a growing need for skilled workers in a variety of top construction jobs and trades. Whether or not you require training or have the skill set in place for a particular job in construction, the old war-time adage “Your Country Needs You” is best applied in this case as “A Construction Site Needs You.”
Six Top Construction Jobs
The need for skilled labor is high and top construction jobs are available across the board. One group that tracks such data, the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), estimates that by 2022 the construction workforce will grow by 1.6 million jobs, a growth of nearly three percent.
What kinds of positions in construction are the most lucrative and highest in demand? Opportunities are flush. Here’s a list of the six top construction jobs most needed and valued, according to an analysis from US News and World Report and Forbes. Salary and hourly data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Construction Job #1: Construction Managers
This big-picture job requires skills on many different levels: intricate knowledge of construction, keen ability to manage people, and an eye for budget and innovation. Construction managers, project managers, and owners reps must be problem-solvers and deadline oriented. They interact with clients and laborers, so their people skills must be finely tuned. They maintain construction schedules and have the final say on quality. Because of their broad and important role in construction, they also command some of the highest pay.
Mean Salary: $94,590/yr
Mean Hourly: $45/hr
Construction Job #2: Field Engineers
Field engineers come in many varieties. They are the go-to problem-solvers on the job site and can be responsible for structural, logistical, and budget decisions. A field engineer is often asked to multi-task and interact with subcontractors and vendors to find solutions that save money on the project. They may stay with a job from pre-bid to closeout.
Mean Salary Range: $96,350-$85,110/yr
Mean Hourly Range: $41-46/hr
Construction Job #3: Surveyors
The job of a surveyor begins before the dirt is dug. This technical position is intricate and requires a person bent on accuracy. Surveyors generally work in pairs, so there’s a degree of teamwork required on the job. But, the workplace isn’t an office. It’s out in the field, rain or shine.
Mean Salary: $60,310/yr
Mean Hourly: $29/hr
Construction Job #4: Inspectors
Every job requires one. Inspectors are quality control managers, the people who dot the Is and cross the Ts on every job site based on building codes and safety protocol. This is a non-managerial position with a high degree of responsibility and a fair amount of stress; safety and quality sometimes hinge on an inspector’s report, as do cost overruns and repairs.
Mean Salary: $58,430/yr
Mean Hourly: $28/hr
Construction Job #5: Cost Estimators
Like surveyors and inspectors, cost estimators are part of the essential but sometimes peripheral skilled workers who work on a construction project. Generally considered a desk job, estimators can wield a great deal of influence because they cost out a project for bid. Good estimators, who must understand the nuts-and-bolts of how a building is put together, make money for their employers if they can accurately pinpoint a project’s budget. Math and accounting skills are a must. Think calculators and spreadsheets.
Mean Salary: $64,340/yr
Mean Hourly: $30/hr
Construction Job #6: Skilled Trade Workers
The construction industry is experiencing an acute shortage of good, skilled tradespeople: concrete, sheet metal, and iron workers; plumbers, electricians, carpenters, heavy-equipment operators, and more. This came about due to the economic downturn and a subsequent shift in higher education programs away from vocational and technical education. According to a 2014 industry report, “Preparing the New Generation of Skilled Construction Workers,” there’s been a 29 percent decline in funding for career and technical education since 2007. The result has been that some large construction companies often support their own or community-based education programs to train trade workers. This is out of need and a desire to meet the demands of a growing construction workload.
Mean Salary Range: $48,700-$54,620/yr
Mean Hourly Range: $23-$26/hr
Job Security: A Good Bet
Those who hold construction jobs tend to be older and because a younger generation has been slow to enter the field, job security is better for construction jobs in the future. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 population survey found that nearly one out of every five construction workers is 55 or older, making it a high likelihood that more than one million construction employees will retire in the next decade. Additionally, an industry-wide survey by AGC in 2014 supports the opinion that it will continue to be hard to find and hire qualified construction professionals in the short-term future.
Education may become the most critical component in the effort to fill construction job openings. Organizations, such as the national ACE Mentor Program, is gaining support from the industry. The goal of ACE, which stands for architecture, construction, and engineering, is to expose high school students to career paths not traditionally taught in secondary education programs. ACE reaches more than 8,000 students nationwide and continues to award scholarships to eager learners and pair them with construction-industry mentors to help them become the next generation to enter the construction field.
Research Your Next Construction Job
Perhaps the least used method of researching a job is potentially the easiest. Consider initiating an “informational interview” and talk to someone who already has the construction job you want. Find a friend of a friend or a construction company that places a priority on outreach. An informational interview is the opposite of a job interview. You take the initiative to learn as much as possible about the position and the person on the other side of the table. If you are enthusiastic about doing the legwork, more than likely you’ll find a willing source of information about your next career move. Put an informational interview on your to-do list today.