Why Consider a Career in Construction?

sewer lift trades
Michael Schwartz, engineer from Prein & Newhof, oversees the installation of the new sewer lift station on W Avenue in Vicksburg.

By Bob Crissman, retired Building Trades Teacher and licensed builder

If you’re looking for a career that’s challenging in a growing field where your skills will always be in demand, you should consider the many aspects of construction. We live, work, shop, worship, learn, and are entertained in structures. These structures must be planned, built, remodeled, restored, demolished, and replaced. The people who work on these cannot be outsourced.

Take the new Costco on Drake Road in Kalamazoo. Building that structure involves a few college-degreed persons working for an architectural firm plus a general contracting or construction management firm. The number of skilled trades persons working on the project—those who are non-college educated—would number in the hundreds. These are your masons, plumbers, electricians, roofers, etc. that are trained on the job and in apprenticeship programs. This is an example of commercial construction that could involve union or non-union labor. Residential construction also involves individuals trained in skilled trades that are licensed to build homes.

High school students who are exposed to a variety of skilled trades in a Building Trades class often select a career in the trade of their choice. However, most high schools place their primary emphasis on students enrolling in college. This has contributed to a national shortage of skilled construction trades workers. The wages of the skilled trades are generally higher than other jobs. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal states, “Nationally, wages for construction workers are rising at three times the rate for all workers.”

To summarize, there are many different careers in construction, they cannot be outsourced, there are many different skill levels, there is a critical shortage now, and the pay is generally higher than other jobs. It is possible to become a skilled trades worker without spending thousands for college.

A follow-up article next month will inform readers how they can enter the construction field.

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