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How to Become a Construction Worker

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Whether construction workers are creating new housing or building skyscrapers, construction work is a rewarding career where builders can immediately see the fruits of their labor. The requirements to be a construction worker vary depending on the type of work. Some construction professionals are in demolition, while others handle carpentry tasks. Construction work can involve welding, pouring concrete or taking a jackhammer to a sidewalk.

Construction work is physical and often requires working outdoors in hot or cold weather. Construction is a physically demanding job that appeals to those who would rather do something hands-on than sit behind a desk.

Job Description

Construction work encompasses a variety of physical, labor-intensive tasks that are necessary to build or repair structures or roads. Duties of construction workers vary depending on job specialties and the types of businesses they work for. Construction work might mean driving a tractor or bulldozer, or it can mean laying down tar on a road surface or framing a house. Electricians and plumbers are types of construction workers that often team with builders as salaried or subcontracted workers.

Construction work can be physically demanding, as workers often have to load and unload heavy supplies. It can also require scaling great heights when working on buildings or bridges. Often construction workers have to labor outdoors in inclement weather.

Currently, there is a demand for skilled labor, and there's plenty of work available for different types of construction workers. Because of the nature of the work, the construction industry experiences a higher rate of injury and illness than other professions.

Education Requirements

Many high schools have vocational programs that teach different construction skills to give aspiring laborers a leg up and help them determine a specialty. Many beginner construction jobs are entry-level, and some construction businesses accept workers with a high school diploma or G.E.D.

Though qualifications to become a construction worker don't usually include college, it helps to go to a trade school to receive certification for specialized labor. Specialists such as welders, heavy equipment operators and electricians have the potential to earn more money than someone who is a jack-of-all-trades.

Aspiring construction laborers can apprentice with a firm or builder to receive construction worker training. Most apprenticeships last two to four years, and some require several hours of classroom training to complete. The type of training depends on the construction specialty. Unions and contractor or builder associations often sponsor apprenticeship programs.

Years of Experience and Salary

A construction workers salary is based on experience and skill. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a construction worker is $33,450 or a little over $16 per hour. Half of all construction workers earn more than this, and half earn less.

The lowest earning construction workers earn about $21,000 annually. As they gain skills and experience, they earn higher wages. The top-earning 10 percent of construction workers average about $60,000 a year.

It is important to note that many construction workers are paid by the hour. If inclement weather disrupts work and the laborer isn't paid, salary numbers are affected.

Industry and Job Growth Trend

The construction industry is currently experiencing growth. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 12 percent growth by 2026. This rise is faster than the average growth rate for most other occupations in the U.S. Much of the growth is due to the demand to rebuild or replace the country's infrastructure. As the population grows, more homes, schools, churches and other structures are in demand, also leading to industry growth.


Deb Ng is a freelance writer and published author with over 17 years of experience in creating content for the web. Prior to her freelance career, she worked for over 12 years in traditional (print) publishing. Specializing in job search techniques, Deb also founded a blog and job board to assist freelancers and telecommuters in landing their dream jobs.

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