If you are a person who is thinking about entering into a lifelong career in construction, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what to expect. Very few people will tell you that working construction is an easy way to earn a living. Most people who have worked in the field will have plenty of stories of difficult jobs, clients that are hard to work with, and long hours. You are also likely to come across stories of how rewarding working in construction can be. In order to best determine your future plans and choose your career path accordingly, it is important that you know what the career trajectory for a typical construction worker is.
Work Your Way Up
In most cases, those who are just starting out in the construction field will have to begin at the bottom. Unless you are bringing a skill such as woodworking to the table or you have a sufficient amount of relevant experience, it is likely that your first job duties will involve fetching materials, providing support, and doing basic manual labor. As you do these things, you will gain experience that will make you more useful to your employer and expand the number of tasks that you are capable of doing. If you are young and in good physical shape, you may have some of the harder tasks designated to you so that older members of the crew do not become overly exhausted. These hard physical jobs can be great learning experiences, but they are certainly not your end goal if you plan to make a career out of working in construction.
Good To Be In Charge
As a new employee, you are likely to notice that the foreman or senior member of your group does not take on most of the harder physical tasks. Of course, there are exceptions to this generality. Many older workers take pride in being able to do a tough job as well as or better than a younger worker. In general, however, the young workers will do much of the heavy lifting because senior members of the crew have already served in that role earlier in their careers. The amount that you earn at this stage is highly variable and depends on your location, your employer, and the work that you are doing. If you are doing tough physical labor, you should at least expect to be paid better than minimum wage.
Hard Work Pays Off
After you’ve accumulated some experience, you’ll likely have the opportunity to be promoted in the crew. This will often mean doing many of the same jobs that you did before, but doing them with substantially more efficiency and also taking the time to instruct less experienced workers. You should again expect a large possible pay range. If you can demonstrate that you are essential to the group’s productivity, you can expect to make substantially more than minimum wage.
Plan For Your Future
Intense physical labor can be incredibly rewarding, however it’s probably not something that you want to be, or are capable of, doing for the rest of your life. In most cases, your end goal should probably be to start your own construction company or make sure that you have secured a position with a successful existing one. At that stage you have great income potential and don’t have to worry about wrecking your body any more.
Jason Kane is a former construction foreman and avid blogger. Jason writes for Fall Protection USA, a supplier of construction safety equipment.