Construction Careers are for Gamers

Superb hand-eye coordination. Quick reflexes. A steady hand. Spatial awareness, problem solving, and determination are all qualities that describe video game lovers.
Whether you prefer a console, PC, handheld or a VR system, it’s hard to beat the thrill of virtual action and the satisfaction of creating your own world or defeating the boss level.

Gaming is a popular hobby and entertainment activity, and many young people have an interest in turning their passion for video games into a career. Though careers in gaming are increasingly popular, they are also increasingly competitive and not everyone will be able to be a game designer or streamer in the industry. However, there is one career path that mirrors the goals and skills of gaming in nearly every way – construction!

“Just like in gaming, construction requires creativity to build and make things; essentially you are shaping and changing the world around you every day you come to work,” said Sarah Lechowich senior director of the Construction Careers Foundation, which coordinates Construction Career Pathways, a statewide initiative to attract more young people into Minnesota’s construction industry. “It takes a certain determination to make a career in the building industry and the skills practiced while gaming are, interestingly enough, relevant and applicable to construction industry work.”

A student operates a virtual backhoe at a Learn2Build construction event. Many apprenticeship classes require students to use simulators for activities like crane operation, excavation and welding practice. PC: Emily Sweeney

Tools and Tech Collide
You’ve reached the main screen and it’s time to pick some device that will allow you to control the action in the game. Do you go for the controller, the joystick, or the classic keyboard and mouse?

Gamers use a controller as their tool to get the job done, just like construction professionals use hammers, saws and even levers and buttons when operating heavy equipment, such as bulldozers or loading cranes.

“It’s incredibly important to show youth the parallels between their current interests in gaming and careers in construction,” Lechowich said. “What many students don’t think of when they start up a video game is the sensorimotor skills they are practicing such as muscle memory and hand-eye coordination.”

Kyle Reaney, a White Bear Lake Area High School senior said, “I love everything about gaming, I love the role playing, the characters, and I always get to be creative — my imagination is the limit.”

Reaney frequently plays Dungeons & Dragons, where players can solve intricate puzzles and engage in intense battles. Embarking upon imaginary adventures within a fantasy setting, D&D players use their creative minds to construct game characters and work together for a common goal.

“While building a house or working on a stadium requires a bit more training than building a house in Minecraft or organizing a campaign on Dungeons and Dragons, gaming can be a good starting point for youth to explore a career in construction,” Lechowich said.

Those hours spent on Call of Duty and Fortnite may actually be an efficient way to build up sensorimotor skills. Puzzle games, such as Tetris, also train the brain’s problem-solving approach and develop spatial awareness. These talents can be critical on a construction job site – after all, construction is often a puzzle with many moving parts.

For all the gamers with an interest in exploring careers in construction, Constructioncareers.org offers 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. Visit Constructioncareers.org today to learn more.