The path to advancing your career in construction isn’t as obvious as in many other occupations. However, there are a number of things you can do to move up the ladder at your construction job, or to find a new career in the industry doing something even better.
Here are six simple tips to get you started:
Ok, so you may have entered the construction industry to avoid a formal education, but going back to school is still a great option if you want to advance your career and secure quality, high paying job in construction.
Don’t worry, you won’t have to master physics or take those frustrating Calculus courses. Instead, you will be looking into trade schools, technical colleges, and business management courses.
Whether you want to become a general contractor, plumber, electrician, or welder almost every well-paid construction job requires some form of in-class training.
This is especially true if you are seeking to manage people. Managers on construction sites often have in-class experience with management courses and the like which allows them to effectively manage hundreds of workers daily.
Add New Skills
No matter what your job is if you want to advance your career and secure better compensation for the long-term it pays to learn new skills.
In construction, many times, that means learning to operate new equipment. The average construction laborer makes around $16/hour compared to the average crane operator salary of over $20/hour, just for reference.
So, don’t be afraid to add new skills to your construction resume. From crane operation to dump truck driving, any new skills will increase your pay in the construction industry.
Remember, Construction is a Meritocracy
More than most other industries, construction is a meritocracy. If you can pour concrete better than your coworkers than you will be used more and eventually paid more to do just that.
Moving up in the construction world requires becoming a master of your trade and focusing on consistent quality work. It takes time to earn the trust of foreman and construction managers, but if you put in the time and only do quality work, you will be rewarded. Not only that, the better your work the more opportunities you will be offered. Many foremen even ask their most trusted employees to get further training or education(which sometimes is partly paid for) so they can take on more responsibility and increase their salary.
Furthermore, having a perfect safety record is nearly a requirement for advancement within the construction industry. Whether you are a foreman or a laborer the only way you will move up the ladder in construction is if you have a clean safety record.
The one thing that can ruin any construction job is an accident. Accidents in construction cost thousands if not millions by slowing progress and even worse, they can be deadly. Safety can’t be overemphasized enough in construction.
If you are a safe, reliable crew member you should be advancing your career in no time.
Be A Team Player, Be A Leader
Construction sites are often male-dominated environments. That means hierarchies are important. You may know who your boss is, but you have to learn who the top guys are and respect the time they have put in.
Not unlike a sports team, the environment in construction requires both teamwork and leadership. When just beginning your career, you are like a loyal soldier and really nothing more, but when you begin to learn skills and gain experience a lot more will be required of you.
You have to be able to teach, learn, lead and follow if you want to advance your career in construction. There are also many unwritten rules in construction.
Don’t be hardheaded, selfish or petty. Don’t snitch, the team comes first. Details are important here, close enough just won’t work. No gossip, this isn’t an HR office.
If you can remember some of these rules and be a team player, then eventually you will advance your career and earn the right to be a leader.
Networking and Taking Chances
Networking isn’t just for your friends with office jobs. Networking now accounts for over 85% of all hires, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics—and that includes the construction industry.
It doesn’t matter if you move cement for a living getting to know your coworkers and making lasting relationships is always a benefit to your career.
If you are looking to move past entry-level construction jobs and advance your career then networking within the industry as a whole is even more important.
Knowing the construction manager on a big project is probably the best way to land a role in that job. Although construction is a meritocracy once you begin work, like all industries in the U.S, nepotism still exists in the hiring process.
Another way to take advantage of networking is to get to know your suppliers and supply, management team.
If you work in construction, you know the importance of suppliers. A whole job can be made or broken by suppliers and supply chain management professionals. Becoming a small part of that system, and getting to know the people within it, is a great way to improve your chances of getting a promotion.
For example, if a local utility body supplier such as Drake Equipment has better deals than the supplier for your project you may want to inform your procurement specialist of the potential deal. In construction, many times you end up taking on new jobs when you prove that you can be an asset in that position.
Don’t be afraid to network and take chances to get ahead.
Contact A Recruiter
Finally, if you want to advance your career in construction but can’t do it through organic means, then you may want to polish off that resume and contact a recruiter. This option is mainly for executives seeking to secure long-term, high-level positions in construction management.
Recruiters aren’t just for office jobs, high-level positions in construction can pay hundreds of thousands if not millions annually so you may be contacted by an executive recruiter such as Recruiterie if you have the right qualifications and have put yourself out there on LinkedIn or at local job fairs, etc.
The even better option, however, may be to just contact a recruiter by yourself and express an interest in finding a job in construction management.
No matter how you began in the construction industry, or where you stand today, there are a number of things you can do to advance your career. Don’t be afraid to take the first steps towards a better life. I hope these simple tips help you on your way.