For the foreseeable future, construction professionals will be in high demand. Construction occupations are expected to grow 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, faster than the 7 percent average forecast for all occupations. For construction and extraction, 758,400 new jobs are projected by 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That’s an opportunity that today’s high school graduates should not pass up. Construction professionals who belong to a trade union make solid wages and receive life-changing benefits such as healthcare insurance and a pension, which can support family.
What’s more, registered apprenticeships offered by Minnesota’s construction trades offer world-class learning opportunities that are just as rigorous as a two- or four-year college degree program. High school seniors and juniors: Now is the time to act and prepare yourself to apply for a construction trades apprenticeship after you graduate (you must be a high school graduate or have earned a GED and be 18 years old).
Here are the top five fastest growing careers in construction:
1. Plumbers – 16% Growth through 2026
Plumbers deal with water pipes and water appliances. They plan how the pipes should run throughout a building and make sure they interface correctly with hot- and cold-water supplies and wastewater. Their responsibilities include the maintenance and installation of appliances that use water, like bathtubs, sinks, toilets, dishwashers and water heaters. Depending on the size of the project, they might work individually or in teams with apprentices. The work is physical and requires problem solving.
Visit the Construction Career Pathways’ Career page on Plumbers to learn about salary, benefits and to apply for apprenticeship.
2. Ironworkers – 13% growth through 2026
An ironworker’s apprenticeship lasts three to four years depending upon local union requirements. Ironworkers perform a variety of tasks, working hundreds of feet above ground following strict safety precautions. This job requires reading blueprints to determine where a particular structural piece of iron fits within the edifice under construction. Ironworkers also direct crane operators and attach iron to the structures using bolts and wires or welding. You must be in excellent physical shape, have a good sense of balance, and remain cognizant at all times of strict safety requirements.
Visit the Construction Career Pathways’ Career page on Ironworkers to learn about salary, benefits and to apply for apprenticeship.
3. Construction Laborers – 13% growth through 2026
Construction laborers perform a variety of tasks at a construction site. All of the work done by laborers requires training and skills which are learned both on the job and during classroom training. Some of the work completed by laborers include digging trenches, operating or tending machines such as concrete mixers, loading and unloading materials, and cleaning or preparing a site before and after construction. Many construction laborers specialize in areas such as tearing down a building or highway and road construction.
Visit the Construction Career Pathways’ Career page on Laborers to learn about salary, benefits and to apply for apprenticeship.
4. Masons – 12% growth through 2026
Masons build the walls and structures of buildings out of concrete or bricks. The best take responsibility for the aesthetics of a finished wall, either completing it in decorative plaster, detailed brickwork or a range of other materials, including synthetics and glass. On larger projects, there is less of a distinction between block and detailed brickwork. However, masons can specialize, becoming master craftsmen or brick masons, focusing on intricate and ornate finishes for buildings and walls.
Visit the Construction Career Pathways’ Career page on Cement Masons to learn about salary, benefits and to apply for apprenticeship.
5. Heavy Equipment Operators – 12% Growth through 2026
Heavy equipment operators use a wide range of equipment at job sites: bulldozers, road graders, trench excavators and more. Operating engineers learn the trade through on-the-job training. Three- or four-year apprenticeship programs are standard and are often sponsored by unions and contractors’ associations. Apprentices must be at least 18 years old. The programs typically require 2,000 hours of on-the-job training along with 144 hours of technical training.
Visit the Construction Career Pathways’ Career page on Operating Engineers to learn about salary, benefits and to apply for apprenticeship.
Visit ConstructionCareers.org for more information about the apprenticeship process and the benefits of joining a union and starting an apprenticeship. Also resource the Careers page to learn more about the 30+ careers in Minnesota’s construction industry.