How Do I Get There

How Do I Get There

It depends on what you want—a job as a construction worker, a skilled trade, or a management position. Advanced education beyond high school is rigorous and will require hard work in every course to get a passing grade. Don’t take it lightly, but the rewards can be impressive!

If you are in middle or high school there are many things you can do to get a head start. And remember, the construction industry needs smart, motivated people at every level.
“Don’t think that if you take a few off-topic courses, they’ll mark your career path. There’s a lot of flexibility in construction, and you can come at it from many different paths.”
Richard Tomasetti
Chairman, Thornton Tomasetti Foundation

Prefer Work as a Construction Worker?

Get A High-School Education…
or Enroll in a Vocational High School
A high school degree will put you in the running with many employers. Or go for career and technical education, which is the new name for what used to be called vocational training. Check whether there are any vocational high schools in your area. Houston’s Milby High School, for example, opened the Academy for Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology that lets students hone in on the hands-on science, math, and emerging technology concepts for oil-industry careers. In any case, the more math, physics, and chemistry courses you take the better! Also work to develop excellent writing and speaking skills, because business communication will be essential. And if your high school offers Spanish courses, sign up. Being bilingual will set you apart in an industry where as much as 70 percent of construction workers are Spanish speakers.
Get Involved in a High School Mentor Program
The building industry has a long tradition of mentoring, encouraging, and inspiring younger people along a
career path that’s right for them. The tradition continues, both informally and formally. One well-known formal method is the ACE Mentor Program that provides high school students the opportunity to learn from architects, engineers, and construction professionals on real world projects.
Don’t discount the value of a job during the summer. Construction tends to be seasonal.
So take advantage of your summer vacation and go for it—many careers have started this way.
“You can have a great career with the right early guidance,” “Success in high school means one of two things: you’re ready for college. Or you’re ready for a technical job.”

“You can be challenged as much as you want. And you can rise through the ranks from construction worker to president of your own construction company.”
Bo Calbert
Member, Board of Directors, McCarthy Construction Company

If You Want to Learn a Construction Trade

Try a Union Apprenticeship
Many construction unions offer apprenticeships dedicated to producing craftworkers who are fully competent in all aspects of an occupation. While preparing for most careers takes considerable time and money, a registered apprenticeship lets you earn while you learn and is often a stepping stone to a long lasting career. Have a high school diploma or a GED before applying.
Consider a Trade School
Trade schools are a fast way to get a set of skills needed in the construction industry. Many trade schools offer very specialized career training—in electrical construction and maintenance, or construction management, for example, and you can focus on courses that will help you build your career. For a quick look at construction-oriented trade schools, here’s a first step.
Check out a Community College Program
Two-year associate programs can give you the basic skills required in construction worker jobs. Many two-year students are
already working for a construction company, perhaps as an assistant project superintendent, and are seeking further education. In these programs, you earn academic credentials in specific fields like carpentry, construction technology, air conditioning/heating/refrigeration, electrical and plumbing systems, and heavy equipment operation. Some community colleges offer technical certificate programs geared to short-term workforce training, and you can become certified. You may also have the option of transferring credits from a two-year to a four-year BA program should your goals change.

Check out these programs if you’re interested in a specific area, a management role, or higher pay.
Colleges and universities offer associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D.-level degrees in construction management. Many programs at each level offer courses in engineering and architecture as well—in higher positions you’ll have to have a good working knowledge of these fields. With a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll likely land a position as an assistant project manager, working on cost and schedule estimation and quality control, while a Master’s degree could start you at the project manager level. In many cases, employers want construction managers with hands-on construction experience, and a candidate who combines field experience with high-level academic training focused on critical management and thinking skills can be hard to beat.

Helpful Links

There’s a wealth of information out there. Here are some ways to easily get more information on achieving your construction industry career goals.
Associated Builders and Contractors for educational and training programs.
National Center for Construction Education and Research for curriculum and skilled trades credentials.
Lowes Track to the Trades for employee education in skilled trades.
For info on Lowes and other companies supporting education for trades
Apprenticeship USA:
New York City: Mayor Adams Partnership for Career Readiness NYC

Fast Facts about Builders

Augmented reality is affecting construction—in winning more projects, improving safety and facilitating team interaction.

Women are increasingly joining the construction workforce, in skilled trades all the way to the executive suite.

From AI and advanced intelligent materials to drones and robotics, the construction industry is building better and more sustainably.

Skilled trades let you follow your passion in a specialized way.

Infrastructure builds big to move people and products.

There are many paths to construction and many ways to get there.

Construction is going green every which way, every day.

You can use your skills, make good money, and do something meaningful.

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