The construction industry has high employment projections and is expected to see substantial growth over the next few years. Construction and extraction occupations are expected to grow 11% between 2016 and 2026, faster than the 7% average forecast for all occupations. For construction and extraction, 758,400 new jobs are projected by 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
However, the lack of skilled professionals in the industry is a problem and is one point of concern for future growth. An Associated General Contractors’ survey shows that 75% of firms expect to add headcount this year and that 78% of firms are having trouble finding qualified workers. In addition, 82% of firms expect it to remain difficult, or get harder, to find and hire qualified workers in 2018.
With high growth in the construction industry and the difficulty in filling positions, the time is ripe for setting yourself up in a career in construction.
Employers in the Industry
The construction industry has a wealth of jobs across a broad spectrum of disciplines. And many employers are looking to fill them. Employers are broadly categorized as:
- Consultants, who plan and design the construction work. Consultants understand the design brief and transform it into a workable plan. Plans are detailed and include accurate quantities, costs, and methods needed to complete the project. Consultants include architects, surveyors, and
- Contractors, who physically build the design to the plan specifications. These are the people on the construction site, reading and interpreting the plan, along with transforming what they see on paper into the final and finished construction. These roles include a range of disciplines from brick masons to machinery operators.
- Subcontractors, who are people employed by contractors to do specialized work. They might be specialists in foundations, steel or electricity, and are needed to complete highly skilled tasks that require specific training or experience.
Armed with the above, here is our take on the fastest growing careers in the construction industry.
1. Construction or Project Manager – 11% Growth through 2026
Construction managers oversee the overall construction project. They act as an interface between the owners or architects and the construction workers. They take responsibility for the day-to-day work and report back on progress, costs, and issues. They do the hiring and carry out the detailed construction plan ensuring everything is done in the right order and to budget.
2. Construction Equipment Operators – 12% Growth through 2026
Construction equipment operators use a wide range of equipment at job sites: bulldozers, road graders, trench excavators and more.
Many operating engineers learn his or her trade through on-the-job training. Three- or four-year apprenticeship programs are also available, and are often sponsored by unions and contractors’ associations. Apprentices must be at least 18 years old.
The programs require 2,000 hours of on-the-job training along with 144 hours of technical training.
3. Plumbers – 16% Growth through 2026
Plumbers deal with water pipes and water appliances. They plan how the pipes should run throughout a building and make sure they interface correctly with hot- and cold-water supplies and wastewater.
Their responsibilities include the maintenance and installation of appliances that use water, like bathtubs, sinks, toilets, dishwashers and water heaters. Depending on the size of the project, they might work individually or in teams with apprentices and pipefitters. The work is physical and often requires problem solving.
4. Masons – 12% growth through 2026
Masons build the walls and structures of buildings out of concrete or bricks. The best take responsibility for the aesthetics of a finished wall, either completing it in decorative plaster, detailed brickwork or a range of other materials, including synthetics and glass.
On larger projects, there is less of a distinction between block and detailed brickwork. However, masons can specialize, becoming master craftsmen or brick masons, focusing on intricate and ornate finishes for buildings and walls.
5. Elevator Installers and Repairers – 12% growth through 2026
As the name suggests, this work involves the installation, maintenance, and repairs of elevators, escalators and moving walkways. It is specialized, requiring interpretation of blueprints, testing of installed equipment to ensure it meets specifications, and compliance with safety regulations and building codes. Service records of all maintenance and repair tasks need safekeeping, making sure everything is kept securely.
6. Glaziers – 11% growth through 2026
Glaziers deal with the glass installation in a building. The work requires the cutting and placing of glass into all types of structures, from residential homes to offices and skyscrapers. The job is physical, often lifting heavy pieces of glass outside while exposed to the elements. Although a degree of skill is involved, employers mostly require a high school diploma for qualification.
7. Solar Photovoltaic Installers – 105% growth through 2026
This role is unusually high growth as it taps into the demand for new and green solar technology. The position focuses on the installation and maintenance of solar panels for the generation of electricity and hot water. And it covers residential homes, offices or other buildings.
8. Ironworkers – 13% growth through 2026
An ironworker’s apprenticeship lasts three to four years depending on local union requirements. Ironworkers perform a variety of tasks, working hundreds of feet above ground following strict safety precautions.
This job requires reading blueprints to determine where a particular structural piece of iron fits within the edifice under construction. Ironworkers direct crane operators and attach iron to the structures using bolts and wires or welding.
You must be in excellent physical shape, have a good sense of balance, and remain cognizant at all time of strict safety requirements.
9. Construction Laborers – 13% growth through 2026
Construction laborers perform a variety of tasks at a construction site. Most of the work done by laborers does not require formal training or skills but can be learned on the job.
Some of the work completed by laborers include digging trenches, operating or tending machines such as concrete mixers, loading and unloading materials, and cleaning or preparing a site before and after construction.
Many construction laborers specialize in areas such as tearing down a building, digging tunnels or mine shafts, or highway and road construction.
10. Civil Engineers – 11% growth through 2026
Civil engineering requires a college degree and mastery of several skill sets. Civil engineers must understand geometry and calculus and apply those math disciplines to construction projects. The profession requires a professional engineering (PE) license, which includes an engineering degree from a program approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Civil engineers test building materials, analyze survey reports and other data when planning projects, oversee or perform soil testing, and provide cost estimates for projects. Civil engineers, using different types of design software, plan and design projects such as transportation and hydraulic systems.
Due to the variety of jobs requiring civil engineers, many specialize in transportation, structural, construction, and other types of engineering.
Careers for Problem Solvers
A career in construction is likely to be fast-paced, given the anticipated growth in the industry and the shortage of skilled workers. Prospective employees have many different roles to choose. Some require academic qualifications, like architects and engineers, while others need a suitable apprenticeship.
Whatever the role, they all require problem-solving skills and the ability to work with a range of tools and materials. Employees can fine-tune some of these skills for specialist roles, or remain a generalist working in the field. The choice is yours!
Casey Heigl is a packaging industry insider. As the Marketing Manager for Gluegun.com she has extensive knowledge of hot melt applications, vendors, and industry trends. Casey enjoys sharing her unique perspective with her blog writing. When she isn’t researching and writing articles she is spending time with her family and crafting with professional glue guns!