When you imagine a construction professional, does a man or woman come to mind?
It’s common for many people to think of a man, considering of all the people working in construction women comprise only 10.9% of the construction workforce.
However, women are continuing to be a growing and present force in shaping the U.S. construction industry. As new construction jobs are expected to reach nearly 2 million in 2022, construction unions and companies are looking to recruit more women into the field and leadership positions than ever before.
For women considering a career in construction, here are some ways to break into the industry and explore careers in construction.
1. Join Construction Focused Programs and Groups
There are a number of local and national organizations that provide resources for individuals looking to pursue a career in construction.Nationally recognized groups such as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Professional Women in Construction (PWC) provide mentorship, seminars, tips and networking opportunities for women entering the field. Another source is the Association of Women Contractors.
2. Learn about the Construction Industry
Another great online source to learn more about careers in construction is the website, ConstructionCareers.org. The website is maintained by the Construction Careers Foundation, a Minneapolis-St. Paul nonprofit dedicated to helping young people, and in particular, young women and people of color, learn about careers in construction.
The website is chock full of information about various construction careers – more than 30 in all – as well as apprenticeship programs offered by construction trade unions. The website also offers real-life stories of young people in middle school, high school and those in their 20s and 30s – all sharing their thoughts about careers in construction.
The Construction Careers Foundation also offers a person on their staff who works with students to navigate the process of starting a career in construction. As Trades Navigator, Sam Ebute works with youth, educators, apprenticeship candidates and parents interested in building a career in construction. Contact Sam Ebute, Trades Navigator, at at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Build your skills and confidence. Work hard.
While in high school, ask your career counselor how to sign up for construction-related courses. At your high school, these classes may fall under welding, shop classes, technology classes, engineering classes and additional STEM-related work.
“When you start off in these classes, you may be unfamiliar with the work but don’t let that deter you,” said Associate Director for the Construction Careers Foundation Mary Stuart. “Take these opportunities to ask questions and get familiar with the tools.”
The construction industry needs individuals who are willing to work hard and show a passion for their career. Taking courses that enhance your skills and knowledge make it that much easier for construction companies to hire you in the future.
4. Find a Mentor in the Trades
Women currently working in Minnesota’s construction industry are building the foundation for future women interested in pursuing a career in the trades. Connect with unions to inquire about speaking with a woman mentor in a specific trade. Finding a mentor in your trade of interest will provide you with insights on the demands of the career, pay, benefits and workplace culture.
For more stories about women in Minnesota’s construction trades, check out Success Stories on ConstructionCareers.org. Through these stories, real construction workers share their experience in Minnesota’s construction trades – how they got into the construction trades, why construction is right for them, and what they get out of their work.
ConstructionCareers.org also provides information about how to apply for an apprenticeship, what type of work is expected for each construction profession, and reasons why high school students should explore the trades while also exploring going to college or serving in the military.