A career in construction can take you all the way to CEO.
Construction careers in today’s market are all about high-tech, high-stakes, huge earning potential and the opportunity to travel the world. Wherever you are in your education, there’s a way for you to start training and securing the right credentials now. Click on the button below to begin exploring your career options within this interactive career path. As you explore, don't forget to watch the provided videos or learn more about that step through the additional resource section. Begin tracking each step of your career path with the activity guide provided.
Middle School – CAREER AWARENESS
At this age you should be exploring your career options in the construction industry. In addition, it is important to differentiate and learn the various industry sectors: residential, commercial and industrial construction. After discovering what area you like, find out about classes that are offered in your local high school to get involved in career and technical education. If possible, attend a construction career day and share this hands-on learning experience with your teachers, coaches, parents and friends. To continue exploring, watch BYF’s videos under the additional resource section below.
High School-Technical Centers
By taking career and technical education classes in high school, or at a technical center, you can get on the fast track to success. You can take basic construction classes in high school where you can earn credentials if the classes are taught by certified NCCER craft instructors and you successfully complete the programs. These credentials are nationally recognized in the industry and can open the door for you to get a job with a good company that will assist in furthering your education after high school. Some colleges also recognize these credentials and will give you college credit for your successful completions. Either way, you are a step ahead on the path to success.
Construction Management has become a big draw for many individuals like you. There are various four and five year programs that offer construction-related degrees from design, project management, estimating, human resources, architecture, engineering, and safety. These programs typically include a mix of technical, managerial, and business courses. You do not need to have previous construction experience; you just need to be interested in a fast paced industry with vast growth potential.
Assistant Project Manager
After completing a construction management program, there are a variety of positions that you can go within a construction company: assistant project manager, estimator, safety manager, scheduler, quality assurance manager or human resource manager. Most firms will start you as an assistant in one of these positions, because it is important for you to get the experience necessary before managing a project on your own. At this point you will manage single projects at a time, but as you progress, you will become responsible for multiple projects. The size of the firm will determine the amount of traveling you will be doing.
After working either as an assistant project manager in various positions or a site superintendent, you have discovered your niche for managing. You oversee multiple projects working with everyone from a craft professional to the CEO of the company. Your job is to plan, budget and document all aspects of the specific project you’re working on. You have the opportunity to travel, but the schedule depends on the size of the firm you work for.
Community College or Technical College
More and more colleges are offering construction craft training classes. Not only are they offering these classes, but they are offering college credit for successfully completing them. Imagine learning how to hook up a sound system or mastering laser beam welding while earning college credit. All crafts are taught through hands-on training where you learn to master the skill. When ready, you have the option to find a job in the field you are studying while attending school. The flexibility of these programs allows the best of both worlds.
If you did not work while going to college, you will enter the workforce as a craft laborer or apprentice. In order to become a craft professional, you must have experience in your field. You will work with a craft professional and have the opportunity to put your college training to work on the job site. It is important for you to get this type of experience before you are the one making decisions on specific procedures and materials on site. A craft professional must perform at a high level of expertise under pressure. Experience, along with journey-level assessments, is the assurance employers need to move you into the position of craft professional.
Whether you started craft training in high school or not, many construction companies offer apprenticeship programs where you can earn money while you learn a craft. At this point you would be a craft helper or apprentice. While many people struggle with how to pay for postsecondary education, the construction industry offers an answer. Some companies have training programs set up within their organizations where instructors hold classes at their headquarters, on job sites, or through local associations. Others pay for you to attend a technical or community college to get your training in the evening while you earn money during the day. There are few industries that offer the opportunity to earn while you learn. Welcome to the world of construction!
After completing a training program through a company , or completing a college program while working as a craft labor, you are now a craft professional. Due to the skills acquired through training and experience, you are making a solid income. You may also be traveling quite a bit depending on the size of the company you are working for. Many professionals enjoy the freedom and pride that this level of accomplishment offers; however, some decide to continue to build on their skills and knowledge. The next step would be to take leadership training offered through the company you work for to achieve crew leader or foreman. Another option would be to enroll in college for a construction management degree. Either way, your foundation is solid for your next course of action.
Crew Leader / Foreman
You now have solid experience as a craft professional and have completed leadership training through your company, local college or a leadership academy. You have learned communication skills and effective planning and scheduling. You are in a supervisory role where you’re in charge of a crew of craft professionals. It is your job to make sure that work is completed correctly and on time. You are responsible for the safety and work of those under you. You may choose to stay at this level or take safety, supervisory or management training to move into a safety manager, project manager, or superintendent position.
As a superintendent you run the job site. You are on site and in charge of all subcontractors and work that is performed in the construction of that project. You are a craft professional that has been in charge of crews and completed supervisory training, or you are coming from a university project management track and have experience in the field. You will likely travel to different jobs around the United States and possibly the world depending on the size of company you work for. Your next step in advancement might be to become a project manager or to move into senior management. A lot of this depends on the structure of the company.
By this point, you have managed crews, sites, projects and more. You will now use all of your experience at the corporate level. Many companies have vice presidents that run a variety of divisions: quality control, estimating, safety, human resources and overall management. Understanding the process that projects go through and all of the working parts that it takes to complete projects successfully is vitally important. Your expertise will now be considered when decisions are made for the overall company.
CEO, Executive, Owner
Regardless of where you start, industry apprenticeship, community college or a university, this level of success in a construction company is dependent more upon your skill and dedication than the path you took to get here. There are thousands of great stories within the construction industry of how a kid that loved to build things or tinker ended up as CEO or owner of a company. If there is one industry that allows multiple paths to success, it is the construction industry. Most careers have a single path to success that specifically spells out what you do and what order you do it in. Construction allows you to create your own story no matter where you start. Is it college first, work first, or both? The most important aspect is that you get credentials whether it is through the college system or the industry, credentials do matter. Your level of success is in your hands.