Construction is a growing industry with nearly 500,000 workers employed in a wide range of jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects strong growth in the construction industry over the coming decade. However, most jobs will become available as current workers leave the industry to retire or pursue other careers.
While construction jobs are likely to grow by only 5% between 2020 and 2030, the industry will add around 2,500 new jobs per year and provide opportunities for new workers to replace retirees. With a growing but limited number of new jobs available, the best opportunities will go to workers with the strongest skill sets. Experience, education and training will be the deciding factors for future employment in this industry.
Construction Career Training
The median annual salary for construction equipment operators is $48,290, according to the BLS. New construction workers begin their careers as apprentices, earning less income than fully trained equipment operators. Apprentices can move up the career ladder with training in special skills.
While certification isn’t required for entry-level employment in construction, many positions require employees to have formal training, experience and education. Most professional construction workers begin their careers without certification and then enroll in courses to gain specialized skills. Some knowledge of the industry can help you decide which courses to take, so the first step to choosing a career path in construction is getting an entry-level job.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers safety training courses for construction workers. The Outreach Training Program is a voluntary course that prepares workers to act responsibly on the job site while avoiding injury to themselves and others.
While this program is optional in most states, employers may require workers to undergo OSHA training for some jobs. OSHA doesn’t provide certification for construction workers, but the organization does offer a Department of Labor training card for workers who take up to 30 hours of safety courses.
Engineering and Surveying
Engineering and surveying are two of the most important functions of a construction project. Construction engineers work with teams of laborers, managers and specialists to implement a building plan from start to finish. Surveyors begin the operation with a detailed analysis of the surrounding landscape to determine the safest and most efficient way to proceed.
The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying offers two professional certificates for construction workers. Engineering licensure prepares workers to move into lucrative engineering roles while surveying licensure enables workers to perform the specialized role of a land surveyor. In construction, civil engineering jobs typically also require formal education and work experience.
While concrete mixing may sound simple, obtaining a certificate for this skill will show employers that you understand the safety concerns and technical details involved in mixing concrete. Some construction companies employ concrete mixers without certification, but the fastest way to move into this role is to take courses from the American Concrete Institute. A concrete mixing certificate will open career doors and show employers that you take your job seriously.
As construction companies become more environmentally conscious, sustainable building skills will be in higher demand. With a leadership certificate from the Green Building Council, you can open new career opportunities in a wide range of applications.
The GBC offers the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certificate for construction professionals looking to distinguish themselves in this field. The LEED exam takes about two hours to complete although studying for the exam can take several weeks.
Aerial Lift Operation
Aerial lifts are in operation on most construction sites, and employers typically require OSHA certification for lift operators. Certification to become a lift operator is relatively quick and easy, so it’s one of the most common certificates for construction workers to obtain. The cost is minimal, and the career benefits are far-reaching. Becoming OSHA-certified as a lift operator is a great way to impress future employers.
Crane operators can find steady work on most construction sites, but these jobs typically require professional certification. With a certificate from the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, you can find employment operating many types of construction cranes.
Certain types of cranes require specialized training, and a certificate may be the only way to obtain employment in some niches. Learning to operate a crane can take several weeks or months, depending on the type of crane, and the cost of training ranges from $50 to $350 per course.
A construction management career can be rewarding and lucrative. Management positions require college education as well as work experience. Many of the top jobs in construction management also require a certificate from the Construction Management Association of America.
The Certified Construction Manager program is a two-year course for aspiring construction managers. Before you can enroll in this program, you must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in management with a focus on construction. Alternatively, you can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field and then gain work experience on a construction site.
An associate degree may be the perfect certificate to help you start a career in construction. Two-year degrees from accredited colleges are affordable and versatile in the professional world. With an associate degree in construction engineering, you can begin working your way up to become a certified engineer, surveyor or manager.
A bachelor’s degree is another good option if your goal is to reach the highest position on a construction team. A four-year degree offers a solid stepping stone to the highest-paying managerial positions in construction.
A bachelor’s degree also offers the opportunity to seek more specialized training. With a bachelor’s in civil engineering, you can enroll in a two-year master’s program to gain specialized skills in your field.
Master’s programs offer training in management, engineering, ethics and other related subjects. When it comes to certification in construction, a little effort in the beginning can pay dividends in the long run.