Persons can enter the construction industry with a variety of educational backgrounds. Those entering construction right out of high school start as laborers, helpers, or apprentices. Those who enter construction from technical or vocational schools also may go through apprenticeship training; however, they progress at a somewhat faster pace because they already have had courses such as mathematics, mechanical drawing, and woodworking. Skilled craftworkers may advance to supervisor or superintendent positions, or may transfer to jobs such as construction building inspector, purchasing agent, sales representative for building supply companies, contractor, or technical or vocational school instructor.
Managerial personnel usually have a college degree or considerable experience in their specialty. Individuals who enter construction with college degrees usually start as management trainees or construction managers’ assistants. Those who receive degrees in construction science often start as field engineers, schedulers, or cost estimators. College graduates may advance to positions such as assistant manager, construction manager, general superintendent, cost estimator, construction building inspector, general manager or top executive, contractor, or consultant. Although a college education is not always required, administrative jobs usually are filled by people with degrees in business administration, finance, accounting, or similar fields.
Opportunities for workers to form their own firms are better in construction than in many other industries. Construction workers need only a moderate financial investment to become contractors and they can run their businesses from their homes, hiring additional construction workers only as needed for specific projects. The contract construction field, however, is very competitive, and the rate of business failure is high.
Job opportunities are expected to be excellent in the construction industry, due largely to the numerous openings arising each year from experienced construction workers who leave jobs. Further, many potential workers may prefer work that is less strenuous and has more comfortable working conditions. The continued shortage of adequate training programs also will contribute to the favorable job market. The number of wage and salary jobs in the construction industry is expected to grow about 12 percent through the year 2010, compared with 15 percent projected for all industries combined. Employment in this industry depends primarily on the level of construction and remodeling activity. New construction is usually cut back during periods when the economy is not expanding, and the number of job openings in construction fluctuates greatly from year to year.Employment growth in the various segments of the construction industry varies somewhat, depending on the demand for various types of construction. At times, there may be a high demand for new office space or housing, for example, but lower demand for road construction or remodeling work. Although household growth may slow slightly over the coming decade, the demand for residential construction is expected to continue to grow. The demand for larger homes with more amenities, as well as for second homes, will continue to rise, especially as the baby boomers reach their peak earning years and can afford to spend more on housing. Some older, more affluent baby boomers will want townhouses and condominiums in conveniently located suburban and urban settings.