October is Careers in Construction Month. We want to help celebrate all the construction workers out there and everyone thinking of joining this trade. A career in construction offers many opportunities, allowing you to learn skills that can be applied to a wide variety of fields. Learning where to start in this field can be hard at first since the construction industry encompasses many sectors.
To help you learn more about the industry and gather experience, we brought in an expert OLFA Pro All-Star to help you out. Andrew King has been a Commercial Building Engineer for many years and lends his advice below.
What Can You Do in Construction?
When you choose construction as a career, you have many options to decide from at the entry-level. There is general contracting, landscaping, roofing, painting, and more. As you gain more experience, you can specialize in specific areas such as engineers, contracting specialists, quality control professionals, environmental experts, and more.
How Do You Start a Career In Construction?
If you are unsure what you want to specialize in (and many of us don’t at first), there are many programs and associate degrees that are a great place to start. These are great for anyone without hands-on/relevant experience. They will teach you the basics across several applicable areas (HVAC, Boilers, Pneumatics, Refrigeration, Fire and Life Safety, Electrical etc.). They also give you a basic understanding of how buildings operate.
An example is the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council. This training center offers different courses to help you gain the knowledge you will need to start your career as well as advance faster. Craig Triplett, Assistant Director of Apprentice & Training Programs, spoke about how important education can be to develop professionally on this path. He says: “The better educated a carpenter is on the technology that is being used on the job sites, the more valuable they are to the company. Construction Technology training programs like Procore and PlanGrid are just the beginning of technology in construction. People argued that power saw and nail guns would never catch on or be as fast as they are doing it manually. As technology becomes more advanced with robots and machines doing some of the work due to manpower shortages, the tech savvy construction worker that grasps this and adapts to the changes will advance his career further than the one fighting it.”
If training programs are not on your radar at the moment, a summer job with a contractor is also an excellent way to get started. This helps you explore trades that you might be interested in pursuing. That is exactly how Andrew started his career. He began working with an electrical contractor one summer. He spent four years working each summer as a helper and learning the basics of their daily work.
What Are Some Of The Top Benefits Of The Career?
Job security is a great benefit of this career field. There will always be need for construction experts at all levels. The ever-growing need for both residential and commercial properties provides many opportunities in the field. The construction industry is continually changing, building newer, more efficient, and more advanced buildings. Additionally, older buildings continue to be renovated in order to keep up with the growing demand for energy efficiency and more environmentally friendly operations. This is another big trend Andrew has been witnessing lately. Buildings’ systems are more automated and smarter than ever before.
As we ended the interview with Andrew, we wanted to ask how he went from being an apprentice to being an educator on social media (@someguywithtools). He said that social media began for him as a way to discuss and learn from others in related trade fields. “I saw the vast amounts of troubles and solutions shared by others as a way to further my knowledge of things that I maybe hadn't dealt with personally yet. As things grew, I began sharing my own problems and fixes with others to try and give back what I had learned over time”.
The construction industry is massive and can be a confusing place if you don’t know where to look. But as you can see, there are different ways to approach it. One of them might be from the palm of your hands, observing some of these tradespeople on their social channels to see what interests you. No matter what you choose, start from the bottom and work your way up. This will help you understand the processes and set a solid foundation for your future in construction.
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Andrew King Bio:
As a building engineer you'll find Andrew bouncing across several job fields. He may be doing plumbing repairs today and drywall, electrical or painting tomorrow. Outside of work he is a hobbyist woodworker and a tool reviewer, who loves spending time with his kids, a steady flow of caffeine and watching baseball. If you want to learn more from this talented professional, you can find him at the links below:
YouTube: Some Guy with Tools