The latest forecast by CBRE shows continuing labor challenges for construction companies. These challenges included a smaller labor pool and an aging workforce. The projected slowdown in housing will not greatly reduce the demand for labor. Even though the combination of increased mortgage interest rates, higher construction costs and inflationary trends have placed housing affordability at a more than a 10-year low, construction demand is expected to remain strong for the near term.
Some of the primary factors causing labor shortages.
- One in five workers is over age 55
- Strong competition from other industries due to slow wage growth.
Wages are expected to increase in 2023. The U.S. construction industry will need an additional 2.2 million net hires from 2022 to 2024, the Washington, DC-based Home Builders Institute noted.
Careers in Construction
The barrier to enter a construction career is low, in most cases you can begin a job in construction without a college degree. Most of the careers listed further below can be entered with no previous experience or with completion of trade school. Trade school enrollment is nearly double today versus 20 years ago.
- 33 percent of Americans now think trade school is a better option than college.
- 27 percent of trade school grads earn more money than college grads.
- Trade schools come with less debt.
- A trade school will generally put you into your career two years faster than college.
Unlike colleges, trade schools normally require that students complete a specific number of practical hours or otherwise demonstrate their skills before graduation. On average, a trade school education costs a total of $33,000. For context, that is roughly equivalent to the price of a single year's tuition at a four-year college.
What are the opportunities for those considering construction as a career?
There are many high paying, secure opportunities to build a career in construction. Here are some of the best construction careers and the opportunities they offer.
Construction managers continue to be at the top of the list for best construction jobs. Working as a construction manager affords the chance to learn a construction project from the planning stage with architects and engineers, to the budgeting stage with cost estimators, to the production stage with laborers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8.5 percent employment growth for construction managers through 2029. In that period, an estimated 40,400 jobs should open up.
- Managers are in very high demand and the average salary of a construction manager is $97,180.
- Construction managers will generally make the highest salary in the industry due to the responsibilities that are expected of them
- Typically, construction managers start off in an entry-level position in the construction field and move their way up. Many attend trade schools.
Electricians are currently rated as the number two construction job when you factor demand and pay. Electricians must go through at least four years of training as an apprentice, followed by the licensing their state requires. Many in the profession specialize in either designing, installing, maintaining and repairing the motors, equipment and electrical systems of businesses and factories or residences.
- Projected to grow steadily over the next 10-years
- The average salary of an electrician is $56.900 a year, but the top 10 percent earned over $94,620, according to the report by the BLS.
- To become an electrician, some start off as apprentices while others go through a trade or technical school.
Solar photovoltaic installers assemble, implement and maintain solar panels, which convert rays from the sun into energy, on the rooftops of homes, commercial buildings and other applications. Many electricians also work in solar.
- One of the best jobs you can get without the need for a college degree and in the top 100 jobs in the U.S.
- In 2021, solar installers earned an average of $46,470, with the top 10 percent of solar installers earned over $63,580
- All workers in this field need at least the equivalent of a high school diploma and receive one year of on the job training.
- Military veterans can also take advantage of the Solar Ready Vets program that’s funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.
If you ever have woken up with no running water – or a clogged sink or phantom-flushing toilet – you get an instant reminder of how dependent we are on the expertise of plumbers. But those responsibilities are just the tip of the iceberg. Plumbers develop blueprints to layout where pipes and fixtures should be plotted in a structure. They also install and connect the piping and fixtures, either working individually or with a team of apprentices and pipefitters. The best in the occupation are strong problem-solvers who have mastered customer service and can meet the physical and mechanical demands of the job.
- The BLS predicts that demand for plumbers will rise by 14 percent over a ten-year timeframe.
- The average plumber makes $56,910 annually.
- A four to five-year apprenticeship is all that’s needed to become a plumber.
- Most states require a plumber to have a license to practice the trade with at least 2 years of on-the-job experience.
Glaziers are skilled craftsmen who cut and install glass in all types of buildings, from homes to skyscrapers. Glaziers work with large pieces of heavy glass, and much of the work is outdoors and sometimes several stories in the air. Growing numbers of women due partly to technological advances in tools and lift systems. Glaziers suffer high job-related injury rates, from cuts as well as falls from ladders and scaffolding.
Although jobs do not require more than a high school diploma, employers are increasingly seeking candidates with math and design knowledge and familiarity with sophisticated construction equipment. It’s a physically demanding job that requires a lot of patience and risk, but the demand for these trade workers is expected to grow steadily over the next several years.
- The average pay for a glazier is $46,080 with the highest-paid individuals earning $81,950 or a little under double the industry average.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 3.9 percent employment growth for glaziers through 2029.
- Entering an apprenticeship program is the most common way of becoming a glazier.
Carpenters are involved with many different types of construction, from home improvement to cabinet making, and framing to large construction projects. Although carpenters may specialize in a particular kind of work, they all must be able to understand how to look at either a blueprint or detailed drawing, as well as safely use both power and hand tools. Some subfields within carpentry include cabinetry, furniture making, and deck building.
- A carpenter is one of the most versatile jobs in the construction industry and the growth projections vary greatly.
- The average salary of a carpenter is $46,590.
- There are two main paths to becoming a carpenter: through an apprenticeship with on-the-job training or through trade schools typically lasting two years.
Elevator Installation / Repair
Elevator and escalator installers install, maintain, and fix elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other lifts. Elevator and escalator installers often work in cramped areas inside crawl spaces and machine rooms, and they may work at heights in elevator shafts. Most elevator and escalator installers and repairers work full time. Repairers may be on call 24 hours a day or may need to work overtime.
- The BLS (Bureau of Labor and Statics) has projected a 10 percent job growth in this area over a ten year period.
- The average wage for an elevator installer and repairer was $79,780 in May 2018, but salaries can vary depending on what industry an individual installer works in.
- Elevator installers start out as apprentices in a 4-year program designed to help them learn the trade.
Sheet Metal Worker
A sheet metal worker is a professional who makes, installs and reconditions sheet metal products, such as various elements that are part of the heating, cooling and ventilation systems, as well as roofing and drainage systems. Most sheet metal workers are either self-employed, work directly for companies that produce sheet metal or are employed by companies that handle heating, air-conditioning and roofing jobs.
- Sheet metal work is projected to grow about eight percent over 10 years.
- Sheet metal workers have some of the highest salaries across blue-collar industries, earning an average of $48,460. In 2018, the highest-earning 10 percent earned over $86,200.
- Sheet metal workers learn their trade in different technical and vocational programs that offer different courses and programs that teach welding and other sheet metal fabrication knowledge.
Equipment operators use equipment of all varieties, whether it moves on tires or on tank-like tracks. They work outside or inside, day and night, in all kinds of weather and often work irregular hours. They build and maintain structures we depend on every day, like buildings, highways and bridges.
- The BLS has projected a 9.6 percent growth in the equipment operator occupation between 2018 and 2028.
- The median salary for construction equipment operators is $46,990.
- There isn’t a single path to becoming a heavy equipment operator. Many workers learn how to operate equipment on the job. Others learn through an apprenticeship or through vocational schools.
A mason uses bricks, concrete blocks, or natural stones to build structures that include walls, walkways, fences, and chimneys. Depending on the building material in which they specialize, these workers might be called brick masons, block masons, or stonemasons. Brick masons are sometimes referred to as bricklayers.
There were approximately 292,500 masons working in the U.S. in 2016. Most of them were cement masons and concrete finishers.
- Masonry work will always be necessary. This is especially true as the population increases, thereby increasing the need for schools, hospitals and other necessary buildings.
- Brick and block masons can earn up to $50,950, cement and concrete masons average around $43,000 and stoneworkers will typically earn around $41,220.
- Entry-level masons can enter the field after high school, but they can also go through an apprenticeship program offered by a technical school, college or through a union.
The wages and information above is related to employees in the prospective fields. The opportunity in the construction industry for business owners is remarkable, even considering current nationwide economic challenges. History shows that steep periods of construction inflation are followed by similar periods of recessed construction costs, which is attributed to the reality that higher pricing can slow or stall projects, reduce demand and increase supply.
This is the time for the construction industry to invest in more skilled worker training. Boosting skills training for the current work force and incoming workers will help the industry to be better prepared for the years to come. For construction to expand further, more workers must be recruited and trained for the construction sector.
Construction trends in 2022 continue to address big-scale, industry-wide challenges. Technology will play a significant role to solve these long-term issues, along with proactive solutions and connected job sites.
Even when you consider all of the upsides for a career in construction, the labor shortage is causing owners, general contractors and other trades to consider labor saving methods. Technology in methods, machinery and systems are all becoming more prevalent in the construction office and on the jobsite.
- A reduction in labor supply encouraged builders to adopt more labor-saving technology faster than usual.
- Improvement in the scheduling and logistics of building materials delivery.
- Increased use of prefabrication and modularization.
- BIM, Smart Contracts and BlockChain will be increasingly in use