Why Go Into Construction?
"I have been trying in vain to think of something to do with myself after school all year. I am graduating from high school in a few months, and I am still totally at a loss. I know I really don’t want to work behind a desk. It’s just not for me. I was thinking about doing something hands-on, or at least something in the field, and I was thinking maybe construction. But is construction a good choice? Can I really build a solid career doing it, or will I just be working really hard for no pay? Would I need a degree to do this job, or would that not be worth my time?"
asked by Mike from Dallas, TX
While many of us are told by parents, teachers, and the media growing up that the only way to make a good living is from behind a desk, that simply is not true. Many careers are built around hands-on work like construction. The construction industry is huge; there are millions of employees in the field, and new projects are going up all over the country every day. Almost half a million Americans go into apprenticeships in construction each year.
Demand varies for different positions. Some are pretty well saturated, but others have a deficiency. Specialized trades like boilermaker, steel worker, and pipefitter need to be filled. Certain types of construction managers are also in high demand.
For some of these more specialized fields, a college degree may be required—usually a two-year associate’s degree. A higher degree may reduce the work experience requirement. But in general, this is a field where you can get started with minimal education (and minimal debt), which is a great reason to consider it.
Now onto your question about how much money you can make in construction. According to Go Build Alabama, the average annual salary for nonresidential building construction workers nationwide is $47,528. That is not a bad salary for a job that requires little to no education.
If you decide to pursue construction management, you have a chance to earn even more money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), construction managers make an average yearly salary of $83,860. Once again, that is incredibly high for something that doesn’t require a four-year degree.
With plenty of demand and the potential to earn high wages, there are a lot of practical reasons to think about construction. And even in a management capacity, you would be spending most of your time on location supervising work.
Construction is also a great choice if you enjoy doing hands-on work, and if you take pride in being part of a concrete project with real results. You will be able to help put up public and residential structures which fulfill both form and function for their visitors and inhabitants. Look into an associate’s program in construction management or a local apprenticeship program to get started. This can set you apart from the competition and help you to get into a management role where you can earn the highest income.
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