If you’re considering a career change or just starting your professional journey, you may be wondering – is construction a good job? With positions ranging from project managers to equipment operators, the construction industry offers a wide variety of career paths. Before you grab your hard hat, let’s weigh the pros and cons of building a career in construction.
High Earning Potential
One of the biggest perks of working in construction is the opportunity to earn a great living. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for construction managers is over $95,000 per year. Electricians make a median annual wage of $56,180, while plumbers earn $55,160. And in some cases, seasoned construction workers can make over $100,000 annually.
The earning potential rises even higher when you consider overtime pay. Since construction often involves tight deadlines, working extended hours is common. So that six-figure salary statistic could end up even higher depending on your overtime.
Job Security & Growth
These days, every industry faces some uncertainty. But construction offers more stability than most. Why? Because as long as people need places to live, work, and play, we’ll need construction workers making it happen.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects over 800,000 new construction jobs will be added between 2020 and 2030. That equals a 7% increase, faster than the 4% average growth rate across all industries.
Simply put, construction firms will always need skilled workers like you. And even if one project ends, there’s always a new opportunity around the corner.
Variety & Flexibility
Construction work involves bringing all kinds of projects to life – from commercial buildings to infrastructure to single-family homes. One day you might be wiring a hospital, the next installing HVAC in an office complex. This variety keeps things exciting.
You can also easily move from jobsite to jobsite within a region or across the country. A contractor in Seattle might recruitment you for a position in Nashville. Your skills translate anywhere building happens.
Learn In-Demand Skills
Many construction roles like electrician and plumber require an apprenticeship rather than a four-year college degree. Not only does this path cost less than university, but it allows you to get paid while receiving hands-on training from experienced mentors.
The skills you gain are also widely applicable. For example, a carpenter has talents useful for framing houses, constructing furniture, and more. Getting qualified in construction opens up options.
Being Part of Progress
It’s deeply fulfilling to see your work materialize before your eyes. When that glorious new building stands tall, you can say, “I helped build that.” Your efforts power communities forward.
Now let’s talk about the downsides. Construction sites contain many hazards, from improper equipment use to falls to electrical dangers. The injury rate for construction workers is higher than the national average across all professions.
Still, you can protect yourself by following safety protocols, wearing protective gear, and speaking up about any concerns. Many accidents can be avoided with caution.
From lifting heavy materials to crouching and bending, construction takes a toll on your body. Back and muscle pain comes with the territory.
Again, caution helps. Always use proper form when handling objects. Take micro breaks to stretch and change positions. Your health should be priority #1.
While huge projects roll along steadily, smaller home remodels and the like slow down in winter. Frigid temperatures and snow often halt outdoor work, lowering demand during this season.
Saving a portion of your peak season income helps offset the winter slowdown. Or, you can move to more temperate parts of the country that support year-round construction.
Expensive Tools & Licensing
Starting a construction career requires some upfront investment. You’ll need to purchase tools (which aren’t cheap) as well as pay for training courses and licensing exams. Factor these costs in as you budget your career change.
However, many employers provide allowances or reimbursements for job-related tools and education. Be sure to ask about these perks.
Given the project-based nature of construction, you’ll need to adapt to new worksites and schedules frequently. Some folks enjoy this constant change, while others prefer more stability.
Best Construction Jobs
Now let’s look at some of the hottest construction careers:
With a median salary exceeding $95,000, construction management offers fantastic earnings potential. Project managers oversee budgets, schedules, contractor relationships and more to keep complex builds on time and under budget.
While a bachelor’s degree is often required, experienced workers can sometimes move into management after working up the ranks. Strong leadership and organization skills are a must in this fast-paced role.
Keeping the lights on and power flowing pays nicely – electricians earn $56,180 per year median. Besides wiring buildings, they install lighting systems, telecommunications cables, and more.
Electricians receive training through a multi-year apprenticeship combining classroom and on-the-job learning. Licensure exams are also required to show your expertise.
With median earnings over $55,000, plumbing offers a stable and lucrative career path. Plumbers install and repair water systems, gas lines, drainage, and other essentials.
Like electricians, plumbers learn via apprenticeship programs. Getting licensed demonstrates your plumbing proficiency.
Framing houses, building cabinets, and other woodworking jobs fall under a carpenter’s toolkit. The median pay is around $47,000 annually.
You can get carpentry training through trade schools, apprenticeships, or by progressing from helper roles. Math skills and attention to detail serve carpenters well.
Operating excavators, bulldozers, drillers, and cranes earns a median $48,160 yearly. Equipment operators work on all types of construction projects requiring heavy machinery.
A high school diploma and completing a trade school program helps you gain these specialized skills. Obtaining a commercial driver’s license can also expand your opportunities.
Tips for Success
Follow these tips to thrive in your construction career:
- Make safety your top concern to avoid injuries.
- Continue learning new skills and improving existing ones. Construction practices evolve constantly.
- Build relationships with contractors who can recommend you for future work. A stellar reputation really helps.
- Stay physically fit and take care of your body. This is a tough occupation.
- Hone your time management and organization skills to handle hectic construction projects.
- Get savvy with budgeting and finances to be prepared for seasonal ups and downs.
The Bottom Line
A career in construction offers opportunities to earn an excellent living while building awe-inspiring additions to your local community and beyond. You can traverse an array of career paths from carpentry to equipment operation.
However, the work comes with physical demands and some safety risks. Seasonal project slowdowns also impact the workflow. Overall, construction is an engaging career choice that allows you to utilize specialized skills while leaving a tangible mark on the world. With proper diligence and caution, you can build a fulfilling life in construction.