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4 Growing Construction Careers

The construction industry is a growing field. In 2015 alone, construction projects are expected to jump by nearly eight percent. If you enjoy building things, perhaps a degree in construction technology is for you.

There are many types of construction jobs. The trades and crafts are the heart of the construction industry. Most construction jobs are trade jobs. Tradespeople include electricians, plumbers, and HVAC specialists. Carpenters, finishers, and painters are also tradespeople.

But trades aren’t the only construction careers available. Project managers, safety specialists, and administrative support are essential for any construction project. Construction managers work with many different tradespeople to ensure project completion.

There is also a range of construction safety jobs. Job site inspectors and building safety specialists make sure that the job site — and the final building — is safe. Administrative staff order building supplies and provide customer and accounting services.

So how do you get a construction job?

This guide will introduce you to four popular career paths, highlighting the most essential skills for technicians. The need for skilled technicians in these areas is high, and more employers will be looking for these skillsets over the next decade.

Carpenter

There are about 901,000 carpenters currently employed in the United States. Job openings are expected to increase over the next decade, with a job growth of 24 percent. This dramatic growth is the result of increased construction throughout the U.S. The median salary for a carpenter is $39,940 per year.

Skills Needed

Most carpenters need a combination of formal education and on-the-job experience. In the past, many carpenters learned through apprenticeships after completing high school. Now, many industry experts recommend some formal training. Carpenters with a diploma in construction technology tend to earn a higher wage than other carpenters.

At Vista College, these courses are taught through our Construction Technology Diploma Program. Look for a certificate program taught by professionals. These instructors usually have extensive practical experience and excellent technical skills.

There are many types of carpenters, but in every role it’s important to learn and adapt quickly. Since construction projects can change rapidly, being adaptable will help you to become successful. Excellent math skills are essential because much of the job involves measurements.

Carpenters also need practical knowledge of tools and building materials. You may work with a variety of saws, grinders, and drills. You’ll also need to have a working knowledge of first aid and safety practices.

Carpenters with knowledge of green building techniques are in high demand. These carpenters have specialized knowledge of sustainability, green building codes, and building materials.

Career Path

Most carpenters have a high school diploma or equivalent when they start working. They gain the skills needed through a combination of on-the-job training and formal education. Certificates in construction technology are a good choice for most new carpenters. You’ll learn how to read and understand blueprints and building codes. You’ll also learn about building materials, first aid, and job safety. You’ll also get hands-on experience with a variety of construction techniques.

how to become a carpenter

Many people begin as general carpenters. These carpenters work in many roles and gain experience roughing out, drywalling, and tiling. You might work on residential projects like houses or larger apartment buildings. As a carpenter, you’ll perfect many different construction skills.

Some carpenters specialize in a craft like bricklaying or finish carpentry. These carpenters often have advanced skills and education in one area. They usually contract with larger construction companies.

Carpentry can also lead to a career in construction management. Most construction managers have practical experience in carpentry first. If you go this route, your understanding of building techniques will help you plan and oversee projects.

HVAC Technician

How to become a HVAC electrician

HVAC technicians earn an average of $43,640 per year. Like other construction work, jobs for HVAC technicians are growing much faster than the rest of the economy. Over the next decade, jobs for HVAC technicians will grow by more than 20 percent.

Skills Needed

HVAC jobs are quite technical. Specialists have to understand welding, soldering, and piping. They need to have a good working knowledge of vents and ducting. Finally, HVAC technicians should understand a variety of refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning systems. For a list of technical HVAC skills, consult Vista College’s HVAC technician program.

Since HVAC technicians must diagnose and fix problems on the job, good problem solving skills are essential. These technicians should have good spatial reasoning and an aptitude for mechanical work. A working knowledge of mathematics is essential; HVAC technicians need to understand air pressure, flow, and system capacities.

HVAC technicians with electronic skills are highly sought professionals. Construction companies contract these HVAC technicians to install building automation systems. These networked HVAC systems are needed more than ever, but few technicians have the training to install them. If you have experience with electronics, this is a growing niche.

If you plan to run your own business, you should also have business experience or education. These business skills include marketing and communicating with customers. Successful HVAC business owners will also have a strong grasp of project management so that they can juggle multiple clients and complete projects on time.

Vista College’s Associate of Applied Science in Trades Management — HVAC is an excellent choice for those who want to start their own business. This program combines business education with HVAC technician training, offering classes in business operations and project management.

Career Path

HVAC technicians have many paths available to them. They may be hired by a specific company to perform maintenance for their equipment, or work for an installation and service company with a number of clients. Project managers and contractors with HVAC experience are in high demand. Many HVAC technicians go on to set up their own businesses doing HVAC service, repair, and installation.

HVAC technicians usually have a combination of education and practical experience. Most HVAC technicians have a high school diploma and a technical diploma, certificate, or associate degree. Earning an HVAC diploma usually takes about a year.

You can gain practical experience in entry level roles or through a formal apprenticeship. Many new HVAC technicians work as an assistant to experienced technicians while gaining on the job knowledge. As an assistant, you are likely to assist in installing heaters and air conditioners. You might also inspect and repair HVAC systems.

More experienced HVAC technicians may start their own company or work for larger construction companies. They are likely to manage HVAC and construction projects. In these roles, you could be responsible for overseeing projects and other HVAC specialists.

Because HVAC technology is changing so rapidly, new career paths are emerging every day. These include specialists in building automation, networking, and performance testing. HVAC technicians with sustainability experience are likely to be in particularly high demand as energy auditors, green building consultants, and green technology specialists.

Electricians

The demand for electricians is rising quickly. Right now there are about 583,000 electricians working in the United States. Over the next decade, that’s likely to grow by about 20 percent. Electricians earn a median salary of $49,840 per year.

Skills Needed

As with other trades, electricians need excellent technical skills. They install and repair wiring, so they need to understand circuits and fuse boxes. Vista College’s Electrical Technician Diploma offers a hands-on approach that teaches students to install fuse boxes and connect circuits.

Electricians also need good reading and writing skills to understand blueprints and building codes. And they use math to make sure circuits are loaded properly. Successful electricians have excellent troubleshooting skills to diagnose and solve wiring problems on the job.

Electricians who run their own business also need a solid grasp of business operations. This includes skills like project management, which will help you manage many projects at the same time. Vista College teaches these business skills through our Electrical Technician Associate’s Degree.

A good understanding of construction technology is also recommended. Electricians often work with construction companies to install wiring in new houses or apartments. Understanding the construction process is essential when you’re working on new construction. Construction technology includes knowledge of building materials and building codes.

Career Path

Electricians gain their skills through a combination of education and on-the-job training. You should have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Most electricians go on to get a diploma or certificate as an electrical technician. Choose a career training school that focuses on practical skills. These certificate courses are shorter than a four-year degree and are typically taught by professionals in the field. In such a course, you’ll get hands on experience and guidance from practicing electricians.

As a new electrician, you’ll assist an experienced electrician. New electricians help to set up wiring and circuits. They usually work as an assistant electrician for three to five years.

Some people choose a formal apprenticeship instead of working as an assistant. Apprenticeships are paid positions where new electricians learn on the job.

Experienced electricians sometimes become licensed as master electricians. They often work on their own or for larger companies. They install wiring for new projects. These electricians usually manage several projects at the same time. Some electricians become construction managers, where they oversee construction projects.

Construction Manager

How to become a construction manager

As long as there are new construction projects, there will be a need for construction managers. There are approximately 400,000 construction manager jobs today. In the next decade, jobs will grow by 16 percent, which is faster than the general economy. Construction managers have one of the highest salaries within the building trades. The median annual wage is $82,790.

Skills Needed

Construction managers are called construction project managers. As you might guess by the alternate name, you’ll need excellent project management skills to succeed in this role. Courses in project management can help new construction managers master these skills.

Construction managers also need excellent time management skills. They are responsible for managing many projects at once. In this career, you will need to solve problems quickly and work well with clients. As a construction manager, your job description will include subcontracting tasks and negotiating deadlines.

Most construction managers enjoy working with people. Construction managers are in constant contact with clients, vendors, and subcontractors. A person with great customer service skills often excels as a construction manager.

Construction managers also need a good understanding of construction technology and safety. They need to be able to read and understand blueprints and building codes. Most construction managers also have practical experience in the building industry.

Career Path

Many construction managers begin by working in the construction trades. A good working knowledge of construction technology is essential for a good construction manager. Construction managers may start as general carpenters, or in a specialty trade.

Many people who want to become a construction manager pursue a certificate or a diploma. Although it is possible to become a construction manager with no formal education, this route is less common. A certificate in construction management should teach business skills as well as construction technology. The Construction Management courses offered by Vista College include business operations and project management.

Many new construction managers get their first jobs as an assistant project manager. These roles are often found in large construction companies. As an assistant project manager, you’ll help to coordinate employees and projects. Many people work as an assistant project manager for three to five years.

Many construction project managers will become a construction manager once they gain enough experience. As a construction manager, you’ll be responsible for planning and overseeing entire projects.

What Next?

best careers in construction industry

The demand for people in the construction industry is likely to remain high for years to come. After all, construction is at the backbone of our economy.

If you are interested in a job in construction, you have several possible ways to get started. You can talk to those already working in the industry to find out more about the areas you’re interested in. Most professionals are happy to tell you more about their career path. When you’re ready to take the next step, contact Vista College to find out more about a certificate in these construction trades.

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