Today we will talk about the pros and cons of working in the construction industry. I’ve been in and around the construction industry for most of my life working with many different companies. I’ve seen many different sides of the construction industry so I have a different perspective of the industry.
If you choose to have a career in construction, you’ll become a part of a global industry with a variety of exciting and rewarding jobs to choose from. You will be a contributor to important work that helps drive our country’s economy. Working on a wide range of infrastructures can be rewarding, including houses, schools, hospitals and apartment complexes. Also, roads, airports and train stations are constantly being built and workers are needed.
Working on large scale investment projects such as stadiums and skyscrapers is exciting! More extensive training can get you into specialized jobs. A high rise crane operator for example can earn an amazing salary. Crane operators work 12 to 14 hour days, often with only one or two breaks. Given that crane operator jobs are solitary and sedentary, turnover is high.
Experience for this job can be gained on the construction site. If you are interested in securing a crane operator job, begin by working as a rigger. This position will give you an on-the-ground look at what it takes to work in a crane operator job down the road.
Before making any of these permanent construction job career decisions, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of construction work. The following list will help you decide if construction work is right for you.
Pros: This is one of the few industries that you can start in after high school and make decent money if you are willing to work hard and learn a trade. It is also one of the easiest and least expensive to become a business owner if you know a marketable trade. Construction can be very satisfying work as you see a tangible long lasting example of your efforts (“I helped build that”). There is a place for so many different types of people and skill sets in construction from office workers, sales, management and of course trades people. An independent trades person that does good quality work can pretty much work as much as he/she wants without fear of economic slow downs. Contractors can make a very good living in construction and they can grow as big and they want.
Great Salary: Construction is a very broad term and the pay scales will vary depending on the type of construction job you are doing, as well as your skill-set. However, compared to other labor jobs, a construction worker can expect to enjoy an excellent paycheck when there is work.
Since an employee can learn the relevant skills quickly, a construction job is an easy way to increase your income without attending school for a number of years.
Stay Active, Fit, and Healthy: In case you haven’t heard the buzz, it turns out that sitting all day is bad for your health. Our bodies were designed to move: to run, walk, bend, lift, and stretch. For years, most work was physically active work – and that wasn’t looked down on, it was normal. In the past 20 years or so, it seems our culture looks down on work that’s physically demanding. But the reality is, if you work a job in construction, you have a chance to be much more physically fit, healthy, and active during your day. Of course, the flip side of this is that it’s very physically demanding work and if you don’t look after yourself, you can run your body into the ground. We’ll discuss some of the healthy hazards below, but it’s important to know that working with your body all day can really be very healthy.
Flexible: Unlike in other industries such as banking or technology, construction workers have the flexibility of moving around the country if desired. Whether you want to live in a busy city or a quiet town, you will always be able to find nearby construction jobs. Just think about your daily commute wherever you live…there is always construction!
Diverse Opportunities: When you choose a career in construction, there are many different paths you can embark on.
This always growing industry allows you to explore a variety of construction job choices, and gives you the opportunity to add new skills and knowledge to your repertoire, which will be valuable wherever you choose to go.
Disadvantages of working in construction: Working a construction trade is hard physical work and it does take a toll on your body over time. Some trades more than others of course such as concrete and masonry requiring a lot of physical labor to electrical requiring far less. There is a lot of knowledge to be learned and skills to be mastered and they are different for each trade. Finding the education is not as easy as it should be. Unions do great training, but they are hard to get into. On the job training seems to be the most common but the quality of that training is spotty. Trade schools can be very pricey. There is some public education in construction trades but not all trades are covered and not all colleges have programs.
Construction is also very cyclical and tied to the cost of money and the economy. When interest rates are high, construction tends to slow down (that’s when those great union jobs get scarce by the way). During recessions, you will see more remodel and repair work than new construction which tends to benefit the small construction firms with lower overhead. Big construction firms with high overhead can make lots of money when times are good and go bankrupt when the economy falls flat. Going big comes with it’s own share of stress and headaches. Contractors and tradespeople need to remember to save for retirement when they are young, an easy thing to overlook.
Safety Risks: On a construction site, even a minor slip or fall can cause serious injury. While work sites are much safer now than ever before, dangerous work conditions are still something you must always keep in mind before choosing construction work as your livelihood.
Short-Term Work: Construction workers often find themselves worrying about long-term job security or feeling uneasy about the future of their careers. Construction jobs eventually end, and then you find yourself looking for more work on another job. It is best to hook up with a company that is always working and needs your particular skill-set on every job.
The availability of construction jobs may fluctuate depending on peak periods (i.e. summer or during the holidays) and it may be difficult to find work in a snow-prone region for example.
Age: As you become older, working on a construction site becomes more difficult and risky, especially if you suffer from a past injury. However, if you build the right skills, there is the opportunity to work your way up to a more comfortable and safer office job. Perhaps it is best to learn electrical skills, plumbing or carpentry to become more valuable for each job site you apply for.
All in all I think it’s a great industry for the right person, requires hard work but very rewarding at the end. So, is construction a good career choice? If you ask us, the skilled trades are a great career choice. They allow you to do meaningful, people-serving work with your hands, and earn a great living doing it. They’re not for everyone, but if the idea of a 4-year degree and loads of student debt doesn’t appeal to you, you might consider construction.