What Careers Are In Construction?

"I have been considering going into a hands-on field after I’m done with school, maybe construction. I was planning to go to college, but now I’m not sure. Do I need a college degree for some construction jobs? What career opportunities are there, and which ones pay the most money?"

asked by Billy from Bakersfield, CA

There are a wide range of different professions in the construction field. Some involve a lot of hard work in a hands-on capacity, others are highly specialized, and still others are managerial in nature or involve no hands-on work at all. Here are some job titles to look into:

Construction manager

This is one of the most highly paid jobs in any blue-collar field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction managers make a median annual wage of $83,860. All you need to become a construction manager is an associates degree and work experience. Construction managers are in charge of supervising job sites and workers to ensure that a structure is being built to specifications and the work is proceeding in a safe and timely manner.

Cost estimator

This is a job which does not require hands-on labor (at least not very often). It is an actual office job, which can pull in more than $60,000 a year.

Plumber

Plumbers make an average of $50,000 a year. It is the job of a plumber to be able to install and maintain drainage pipes, septic systems, and related components in a structure.

Glazier

Glaziers make around $40,000 a year, and are responsible for installing and maintaining windows and skylights. They may also sometimes remove or replace windows. This job requires that you not be afraid of heights. In fact, it is best if you have an affinity for them!

Electrician

This is a job which brings in around $50,000 a year on average. You will generally need either an associates degree or a four- or five-year apprenticeship to get into this field. You will have to be well versed in electrical engineering and have to pass a licensing exam to get certified.

General construction worker

Construction workers who work in a general capacity may fulfill a wide variety of roles—everything from equipment operation to loading and transporting materials. You do not need as much experience or education to get started this way, but the starting salary can be quite low (minimum wage). The average salary for a general construction worker is around $34,000 a year.

As you can see, the highest paying jobs in construction either require you to have a specialization or work in a managerial or accounting capacity. While you can get started in construction without a degree, you will probably have to start at minimum wage. It makes much more sense to pursue a degree and/or an apprenticeship so you can have a specialization and make more money. An associates degree can position you for a job as a construction manager, which is an excellent opportunity to earn a high salary.

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