Construction workers are typically trained on the job to perform many functions, from erecting highways to digging tunnels to tearing down buildings. Although there are no formal qualification requirements, employers tend to prefer candidates who are at least 18 years old and possess a minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Knowledge and Abilities
Employers usually don't have education requirements for construction workers, but they tend to seek candidates who are knowledgeable about mathematics, blueprint reading and safety. Some construction workers gain experience by attending vocational or trade schools, or community colleges. According to Illinois WorkNet, employers may also require candidates to possess a driver's license, or to pass a physical exam, background check or drug test. Additionally, candidates should have physical strength and stamina, color vision and coordination.
Learning and Training
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that construction workers may learn their trade through apprenticeship programs, which usually involve from two to four years of technical instruction and on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs typically divide instruction into three main focuses: environmental remediation for removing materials such as asbestos and lead; building construction; and heavy and highway construction. Apprentices learn basic construction capabilities, including proper tool and equipment use, safety and health issues, and communication.
License and Certification
Some construction jobs require workers to be licensed or certified, such as the hazmat license for removing hazardous materials from an area. Construction workers also may obtain optional certifications to advance their usefulness on job sites. Certification is available in many areas, including signaling, welding, radiological work, pipeline operation and asbestos removal. For example, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering offers a Health Care Construction Certificate allowing candidates to take on projects such as renovations at a hospital.
Advancement and Employment
As construction workers gain experience, they may take on more complex duties or transition to construction craft jobs. For example, helping brickmasons on-the-job could lead to a career as a brickmason. Construction workers may advance to management positions, where they plan and coordinate activities at job sites. The BLS expects employment opportunities for construction laborers to increase 24 percent through 2022, which is much faster than the average of all occupations.