Perhaps you lost your last job thanks to the pandemic. During the quarantine, maybe you were on unemployment and did odd jobs on the side.
Well, the pandemic seems to be coming to an end—and you’re wondering what role you should play in the reviving U.S. economy.
Have you considered construction?
A lot of people haven’t considered construction as a career opportunity. Either they somehow got the idea that the pay is poor or they lacked enough construction experience—or both.
But now is a great time to get into construction—even if you have minimal experience.
“Everything just shut down during the pandemic,” said Jimmy Greene, president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan. “There is a huge backlog of projects that were put on hold until things turned around—and now they’re turning around. It’s the perfect time to get into construction.”
There is an option if you don’t have much construction experience. You could start out as a general laborer. Construction laborers handle a range of tasks on a construction site. For example:
- Preparing ground ahead of actual construction
- Mixing and pouring concrete
- Laying drainage pipes
- Moving materials
- Digging trenches for foundations
- Fixing scaffolding and building frames
- Assisting bricklayers, carpenters, and other colleagues on-site by providing materials
- Marking out the area for the site using string lines and putting up barriers and safety signs
- Operating hand machinery, such as drills, pumps, and compressors
- Operating heavy machinery, such as excavators and dump trucks
You don’t need any special training to be a laborer. Desirable skills:
- A good level of physical fitness
- A head for heights
- An ability to understand instructions and carry them out
- A general understanding of health and safety issues
- Good attitude
- Dependable, on time
The nice thing about being a laborer is that they’re needed throughout a construction project, from laying the foundation to painting, so you’d get a look at all the trades. Because they are exposed to a large variety of tasks and types of work, general laborers frequently develop a wide base of knowledge that encompasses all areas of construction to build on when/if they decide to specialize.
Find the one that’s a perfect fit for you. Here’s a partial list:
- Carpet layer
- Heavy equipment operator
- HVAC technician
- Insulation installer
- Pile driver
- Sheet metal worker
From there, you’d catch the eye of the contractor or subcontractor with your work ethic as a laborer and they’d put you through a two-year apprenticeship program. When you’re a journeyman, you’ll be making great money—and your future will be secure.
We’re in the middle of a huge shortage of skilled tradespeople. Most tradespeople are near retirement, and high school kids aren’t focusing on the trades after graduation. They’re focusing on a four-year degree as the key to success—so there won’t be enough people to fill those vacancies.
“The skilled trades are a fantastic career choice right now,” said Jimmy.
With more experience, you could move into a more senior role, such as a site supervisor, team leader, or construction manager.
Alternatively, you could set yourself up as a self-employed contractor.
So what’s your first step? A great way to get your foot in the door of construction if you have no experience is as a general laborer through a staffing agency. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of construction laborers and helpers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
Think about it. A job with a low stress level; good work-life balance; and solid prospects to improve, get promoted, and earn a higher salary
The Department of Labor notes that those with a military background have great prospects in this line of work because contractors are always seeking applicants who are in excellent physical shape, have strong math skills, and can work well with people.
“If you want an industry that’s on the upswing, that’s construction,” Jimmy said. “The future is bright for construction.”
Okay, you got that general laborer job? What’s next: You may like:
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