Recently, I had an acquaintance tell me that his son wanted to get into the construction industry when he graduates from high school. He was asking for my thoughts on how to go about it. To sum up our conversation, I told him that with some construction management training and a few years of on-the-job experience, the industry would be wide open to his son's choosing.
Now, that may seem like basic advice, so here are more details. There are several ways you can go about this. It is important to know what field you would like to make your career. If you are young and unsure, you could start out as a laborer for a construction company. This would help you become familiar with the atmosphere of a construction job site. If you take note of your surroundings, gain understanding of the processes and sequences of a project, learn everything you can, and stay productive, you will quickly advance.
Another option is to join an apprenticeship program. There are many out there, and they can often be found through construction associations, trade unions, and tech schools. This can be a good option for someone who has chosen a trade to enter. Some states have apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work part-time for a construction company and receive credits while learning the trade.
Whatever way you choose to get your hands-on experience, I recommend seeking out individuals who are exceptionally skilled in their trade. Learn all you can from them, including any tricks of the trade. This mentor will be one of your most valuable assets. It is important to use your time with them wisely because working with this skilled craftsman is only for a season.
It is to your benefit to have a basic understanding of the other trades, including excavation, concrete, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, masonry, and roofing. It will take time to learn by taking note and asking questions along the way, but it will add value to your expertise.
As mentioned earlier, construction management education can take your career to a much higher level, especially when it comes to commercial construction. Education opportunities are easier than ever. Online project management courses can be an option for those who have a full-time job in the field. Studying at your selective time frame can help you obtain a certificate in construction management. Contractor associations, trade schools, and colleges are also available with different course levels and degrees.
Knowledge of the basic concepts of tools and the language of project management is useful in projects of all types and sizes. Scheduling, coordinating subcontractors’ materials and methods, tracking project cost, implementing quality control measures, and communicating through technology using management software and apps are all part of the innerworkings of a construction project.
If you choose a career in construction, I want to encourage you in your journey. There are many opportunities for people with this skill set. It will take some time, but stay determined and you will make it! I started out sweeping floors and cleaning job sites 40 years ago. I then became a journey carpenter and built a few homes on the side. After 20 years, I started a commercial general contracting business that built a chain of grocery stores for 20 years. Then, I came to Acuity, where I use the experience I gained from my construction journey to teach the insurance industry and help contractors in business.