As a teen, a job in construction can fit in well with your school schedule, because the lion's share of construction work happens in summer when the weather is warm. You might find plenty of open jobs in the industry, but not every one is going to be open to hiring you unless you're 18 or older. Still, you can take some key steps to get hired, including gaining experience and putting together a resume that shows you have already worked in construction.
Laws About Teen Construction Workers
According to federal law, teens under the age of 16 are not allowed to work in construction jobs. Teens who are 14 or 15 can work in the office of a construction company or in a sales-related job, but they can't do the manual tasks related to construction. Workers who are 16 and 17 and working on a construction site are also restricted from doing "hazardous" jobs that include mixing chemicals or compounds, working on roofs, operating cranes or forklifts, and operating woodworking machines. Workers who are under 17 are also not allowed to drive the company's vehicles for work, and 17-year-olds can only drive on a very limited basis. Teens who are 14 and 15 are also restricted to an eight-hour day, and can't work before 7 a.m. or past 7 p.m. during school time and past 9 p.m. in the summer.
Jobs to Look For
Your options are somewhat limited, teens over age 16 can work as flaggers or runners on a road construction project. You may also qualify to do landscaping work that involves digging garden beds and planting new gardens, or masonry work that involves assembling structures out of brick or blocks. You can also do carpentry work, but you'll be more restricted because you won't be able to operate power saws.
Demonstrate Your Experience
While some construction jobs may be entry-level and won't require any prior experience, it never hurts to have some. Gain experience in the industry by helping family or friends with home improvement projects. Look for opportunities to volunteer with your school, church or community center, working on projects such as Habitat for Humanity, in which people build homes for families with limited resources. Also ask family and friends who may already work in construction whether you can do a job shadow or an internship to learn what the day-to-day work is like. At school, sign up for shop or other construction trades courses, or sign up for a basic construction course at your local community college. These courses are sometimes available even to high school students for a relatively low price.
Ask those same family and friends in construction for referrals to construction companies that may be hiring. Also check your state's labor department website for job postings, and search the Web for the names of construction companies in your area. When you find their information, call or visit their websites to look for job postings. For summer jobs, start looking in early spring.
Applying and Interviewing
Based on the job posting, create a resume that highlights the skills you have that the employer is seeking. Place your name and contact information at the top, and then create a section called "Job Skills" or "Construction Skills." Use bullet points to list things like "masonry," "planting" or "landscaping" -- anything you've done during your internships, jobs, volunteer or home work. Under that section, create a "Work Experience" section, or call it "Practical Experience" if you haven't had a paying job. Then list the jobs, the dates and a brief summary of what you did.
Also write a cover letter that describes your experience in construction in a little more detail, and talks about why you want to work with that particular company. Submit these to the hiring construction companies by the application deadline. If you land an interview, arrive neatly dressed and ready to demonstrate any skills you've listed on your resume, as some construction managers may ask you to do a "working" interview before you get hired.