Is Your Construction Career fit in a Residential or Commercial Working Environment?

If you’re considering a career in construction the first step is exploring your career options. With more than 30 possible career pathways in Minnesota alone, you can review what skills and knowledge separate careers in carpentry from masonry, plumbing, welding and more.

All these career options can be overwhelming, so another step to help you narrow down your interests is considering what environment you want to work in – residential or commercial construction.

Overview: Residential Construction Work

Residential construction is sometimes called “home construction.” It involves the building and selling of both individual and multi-family dwellings. While residential construction encompasses “new construction” projects such as building homes, there are also plenty of work opportunities that fall under home renovation or remodeling projects.

There are many types of buildings that fall under this category including:

• Townhomes

• Condominiums

• Single-family homes

• Duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes

“Residential construction work often focuses on timber framing and piping projects and doesn’t frequently require lots of large heavy equipment,” said Mary Stuart, Associate Director of the Construction Careers Foundation, a Twin Cities nonprofit that introduces young people to careers in construction through educational opportunities.

Residential construction workers may specialize in a craft and be recruited to work on teams or work in tandem with contractors, architects, and builders to ensure a home is built on time, to code and on budget.

On a residential job site, you will find:

• Cement Masons 

• Cabinet Makers  

• Roofers 

• Plumbers 

• Electricians 

• Drywallers 

Overview: Commercial Construction Work

Commercial construction projects are for the building and selling of business structures and anything not for residential living. Often business owners, managers, and developers hire general contractors to build or remodel their commercial structures. Typically, these are large buildings utilize steel instead of timber framing.

Commercial construction covers projects such as:

• Offices

• Retail buildings

• Hospitals

• Schools and Universities

• Sports Facilities

• Industrial workspace

• Large-scale housing structures like apartments

The commercial construction work setting looks very different from residential work. On site, you will often see cranes, large heavy equipment and lots of huge metal beams and large windowpanes. While some trades professionals such as plumbers and electricians have skills that can be used on both sites – throughout their training it recommended they pick between residential or commercial work. It is not recommended that they cross into both workspaces because of different codes and safety regulations.

On a commercial job site, you will find:

• Operating Engineers

• Glazier and Glassworkers

• Sheet Metal Workers

• Laborers

• Pile Drivers

• Ironworkers

• Boilermakers

Both residential and commercial construction industries offer successful and profitable long-term career paths, however, the types of careers and skills required on the job may differ between the fields. The two work settings vary from the building materials used, to the equipment necessary for construction, right down to the way each construction project is funded.

If you’re having trouble deciding which construction career is right for you, take a step back and consider whether working in residential or commercial construction is your preferred work setting.

To explore a career in construction through the apprenticeship pathway or continue to investigate careers in construction visit ConstructionCareers.org.