Since the long night of the pandemic in 2020 and the slow but eventual sunrise in 2021 and 2022, many different industries in the US have seemed to follow a similar path as they find themselves almost back to “normal” in 2023. While there were several areas of industry that were able to thrive in the Covid-19 vacuum like grocery stores or used car sales, many experienced huge losses with many changes to how they do business both now and in the future.
The construction industry was especially hit hard when projects ground to a halt or slowed down enough to send smaller companies into bankruptcy and larger companies into layoffs. Construction employers and employees were also devastated by the domino effect the pandemic had on the economy. The lack of work and the cost of doing business rose exponentially and supply chain issues had a huge impact on the price of lumber and other goods related to construction.
The good news is that recovery is happening. While the turnaround has been steady, it is a slow process. The bad news is many young people who are in the midst of choosing their careers or even older workers who are looking to change the course of their career, may shy away from construction because of the issues stemming from Covid-19. At ACCE, we think that not only is the industry on the rise with a bright future, there are other reasons to choose construction as a career path.
“The sun never knew how great it was until it hit the side of a building.” – Louis Kahn, American architect
High Demand for Workers
AGCA (Associated General Contractors of America) reported that 91% of contractors struggled to fill open positions in 2022. For those career minded individuals interested in construction, the opportunities abound. Getting in on the ground floor, pun intended, has never been easier. Highly skilled, craft workers are the most lacking. According to AGC, positions for pipelayers and glaziers are in the worst shape with 89% and 70% respectively, of member contractors having issues getting enough workers on their payroll in 2022.
While salaried positions are a little bit easier to fill, still 81% of firms were hard pressed to find qualified project managers and supervisors and over 50% found safety personnel difficult to find. This fact leads us to our second reason to pursue a career in construction in 2023.
An Older Workforce Means More Opportunities for Younger workers
The median age in 2022 of construction and extraction occupation workers was 41.2. Overall, 1 in 5 construction workers are 55 or older. For those college age workers seeking a lifetime career, now is the time to get started in a skilled trade and move up in the ranks of leadership and management. It’s highly probable that many higher paying leadership jobs will be available in the coming years. A smaller talent pool means more opportunity for those who have the ambition to find their place in the construction industry. Basically, with education and experience, these higher-paying jobs are available for those willing to put in the work.
There will always be opportunities for the construction industry to support our country’s infrastructure. Recent legislation has created “an estimated 800,000 good-paying jobs that will expand the middle class, revitalize our nation’s transportation, communications and utilities systems and build a more resilient, reliable, and environmentally sound future”. These initiatives will depend on the construction industry to make them happen.
Many buildings in cities around our country are also aging out. This means that remodeling, demolition, and new construction jobs will be in abundance in ever increasing numbers which mean more jobs for more workers.
Quality Education Programs Are Plentiful
As a leader in construction accreditation, ACCE helps assure high quality construction education programs are available around the USA. We currently certify programs for over 100 educational institutions. You can find one near you by using our Degree Programs Finder at this link. Finding a program is easy with financial assistance readily available and a variety of options abound.
Skilled trade-related Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAP) are also available around the country and ACCE also provides accreditation opportunities for these organizations. Quality training and hands-on experience are readily available for anyone interested in pursuing construction as a career.
Variety of Work/Roles Available
Few careers provide as much variety as construction. From craft work to engineering to management, there is something for everyone. Ongoing training and education can keep you moving up the career ladder and keep you on pace for an exciting job that could last a lifetime. As technology advances, there will be even more opportunity for new ways to do things and innovative techniques will keep you a step ahead and excited about going to work every day. Once you’ve gotten some time under your belt, you’ll be ready to take a look around at other positions in your field of interest. The sky’s the limit!
Digital Technology is making the job safer and better.
Implementing unified systems focused on tracking, recording, and resolving health & safety issues is possible with new software. Communicating policy easily between sites and teams and recording on-site incidents has never been easier with mobile devices. Supply chain issues can be solved easier with construction quality management systems which include suppliers. This can give construction companies the oversight they need to run their business efficiently.
Virtual reality can have a major positive impact for construction sales teams when presenting to prospective clients. No more 2D drawings or 3D models. Creating an immersive virtual experience can give a company the edge and bring a project to life. Augmented reality is something that could help on job sites helping teams work safer and smarter. These new technologies are just the beginning of some very exciting advancements in construction work.
While the starting wage for new construction workers is in line with retail, warehouse, and hospitality workers, you can quickly earn more as you acquire more skills. Craft skills such as electricians and plumbers yearly median income is around $56,000/year. As you gain experience and years on the job, there are always opportunities to become a project manager or a supervisor which raises the salary quite nicely. With so many different types of construction jobs, there is virtually no limit to how far you can go with some hard work and professional development.
Diversity and Inclusion Are at an All Time High
Today, there are many opportunities for women in construction. The glass ceiling is much lower and some say the pay gap is practically nonexistent. Across all professions in the United States, women earn just 83% of what men earn. However, in the construction industry, women earn 95.5% of what men earn. This is a very exciting trend for women looking for a sustainable career path without the usual issues of equal pay for equal work.
Rewarding and Fulfilling Work
Not many of us can say “I helped build that” when looking at a beautiful new hospital wing in our home town or a brand new high school just down the block. The satisfaction of seeing blueprints become reality is tough to beat for most workers. Every worker pays an important role in getting the work done and seeing a successful end result. If you are the type that likes to give back, then a job in construction might just be what you are looking for. If you work in your community, then you know that the job you do is having a positive impact on those around you such as family, friends, and neighbors.
Opportunity to Own Your Own Business
For entrepreneurs looking to gain experience and knowledge to be their own boss someday, pursuing a career in construction can be a great first step. With a degree or completion of an RAP plus a few years of experience learning and working with teams under great supervisors and managers, striking out on your own could be a great option. When you find your niche and the work that you love and are really good at, you may just find you want to be the one writing the checks. Construction work can prepare you for becoming independent and supporting your family through small business ownership.
According to Chris Doyle from Billd, “the construction industry can be a lucrative industry in which to launch a career or a business, with a manageable barrier to entry for those with the right drive, experience and talent. In addition, construction can offer enormous potential for workers to develop a marketable skill, move up within a company and break away and start their own successful business”.
There has never been a better time to get started with a career in construction. The ability to move around the country, get paid well, pick and choose which job best suits you, a plethora of educational and paid apprenticeship programs, potential for rapid advancement, high-tech innovations, and the list goes on and on. There is more than enough to look to the construction industry for a lifelong career.
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