Basic Types of Jobs
While many industries have increasingly demanded higher and higher levels of education from their applicants, construction has not been one of those. That is not because construction is easy but because most of what you need to know on the job site is learned by doing hands-on labor that can’t be learned reading a book, listening to lectures, or doing assignments.
Getting into the construction field usually involves learning some type of trade because most of the crew is specialized. Some people know about painting, installing HVAC systems, doing plumbing, wiring the electricity, etc. Obtaining these skills will make you a more desirable candidate for employment and will boost your pay by leaps and bounds.
Of course, you can also be a general laborer. These are the folks who take the orders and do the hardest part of the manual labor, in most cases. Very little training or experience is necessary to become a general laborer at the entry level but competition is challenging.
What You Need to Get a Job
If you are interested in unskilled construction jobs, such as general laborer, you do not need any type of formal training. However, employers do want to see that you know your way around a construction site. Having some, experience building is going to be very helpful. Holding summer jobs in construction while you finish high school would be a good way to build some experience as would volunteering for organizations like Habitat for Humanity. These experiences will help you learn some of the basic job skills you will need and will give you a chance to learn the ins and outs of the construction site.
However, if you want to do a more specific task on the construction site by learning a trade, you will need some additional training. This can come in two forms. Some vocational colleges or trade schools will teach you these professions. Most include some class time with hands-on experience so you do not just end up full of book knowledge and no practical ability. Another approach is to do an apprenticeship. This means you will end up working under the guidance of a more experienced tradesperson in the field. You will earn pay but the pay will be much less than it would be once you are full-fledged painter, builder, plumber, etc.
Either of these paths can be useful if you’re hoping for advancement in the construction field. All you need is to increase your experience levels in order to move further up the ladder. Learning new skills can help but, again, this comes from experience.
Things to Know
Before you decide construction work is the best for you, you should think about some things. First, you need to be in decent physical shape. You will need to work long hours on your feet in some difficult environments. You will often have to lift heavy items, work on high parts of buildings, and do other physically challenging jobs. If you are not prepared for these types of responsibilities, you may end up doing poorly at this type of job.
Another thing to remember is that if you live in most parts of the country, residential construction jobs are seasonal. That means while you might work a lot during the spring and summer when the weather starts turning bad you will see your workload slack off along with your income. Having a back-up profession, such as HVAC repair or plumbing, can help you weather those difficult months. Many first-time construction workers get so used to having a decent salary the loss of work during the winter hits them and their families hard.
Getting the Job
There are a few ways to get entry-level construction jobs. If you have gone to a trade school, the school may be able to help locate a position for you. This is not always a guarantee, of course. You can sometimes find construction jobs advertised in the classifieds as well. If you know the construction companies in your area, you can contact them directly and ask about available positions. You might also be able to do this with the local union office since about 15% of all construction jobs require union membership.
Another way to go about your job search is through online sites. Find a job search site, particularly one with an emphasis on the construction industry, and use it to locate available positions in and around your area. Remember that travel may be necessary even if you work with a local construction company. They sometimes take jobs in the surrounding areas. Be sure to look for entry-level jobs that do not require experience. Otherwise, you will be wasting your time applying.