Tips For Getting Started in Construction
There’s no shortage of opportunities available for young people today. New professions continue to arise due to the creation of new technology and industries. Entrepreneurship is on the rise. And more individuals are finding meaningful career opportunities without having to take on debt through a traditional four-year college experience. Knowing where to go from high school can be overwhelming.
The construction industry offers a future that is bright — meaningful work without taking on debt with the ability for quick advancement. But how can you test-run the industry before you decide? Here are some tips for ways to learn more and explore whether construction might be the perfect place to write your next chapter.
Quick Introductions To Construction
One of the quickest ways to experience what it’s like to work in the construction industry is to job shadow a local construction company near you. You can spend a few hours at a work site, talking with construction workers at all levels of the organization and see how the team works together to bring a project to life.
Simply search online for construction companies in your area and either reach out via email or give them a call. You could also work with your school guidance counselor for recommendations or even reach out to the Build Iowa team. We’d love to help connect you with companies who want to show you what working in the industry is all about.
Another great way to get connected to local construction companies is through career fairs. Each year Build Iowa hosts several career fairs throughout the state working to connect high school students with construction companies. These companies are eager to meet you and help you discover whether a career in construction would be a good fit.
Career Exploration Programs
If you’re looking for opportunities that can provide you with more insight into what it is like to work in the industry while also gaining skills that can help support a future career, we recommend checking out apprenticeships, internships and seasonal jobs.
Apprenticeships are a postsecondary program that allow you to learn while you earn — meaning you can bank serious cash while also learning and developing your skills. Apprenticeships combine both classroom and field work where you spend around 80% of your time in the field and the other time in the classroom. Typically, with an apprenticeship, you’re learning a specific craft role — such as masonry, welding, electrician, plumbing and carpentry to name a few. (To learn more about apprenticeships, check out our blog here.)
Internships are typically short-term learning experiences where you get to work directly with professionals related to your field of interest. You’ll get hands-on experience in a safe, supervised environment to help you learn as much as possible.
Seasonal construction jobs are another great way to gain experience and earn money at the same time. Oftentimes, this is during the summer — when even more the demand for construction workers is even greater and students have more free time.
There are a variety of ways to get started and learn more about the construction industry. We invite you to explore, ask questions and follow Build Iowa to help you decide whether construction is a future path you want to pursue.
Working as a Project Manager in Construction
While every job on a construction work site is important, project managers help make sure a building project actually gets completed. It’s a job where you get to combine your knowledge of the industry with the ability to help lead, motivate and inspire teams to work toward a shared vision. And, it’s a role that is only going to need more motivated individuals to step into it in the years to come with project management careers expected to grow 14% by 2026.
So what’s it take to become a project manager and what does the day-to-day look like? Let’s break it down.
What types of things will I be doing as a project manager?
As a project manager, you will already be very familiar with the building process, as well as the culture of construction. You will be the primary leader of a building project, responsible for planning and overseeing its progress along the way. No two days will be the same and you’ll use a variety of skills depending on the task at hand.
Typical tasks include blueprint reading, quality control, reviewing proposals, creating schedules for employees and project completion, and problem solving on a daily basis.
How can I build a career path and become a project manager?
The construction project management career is a mid-level management role. Because of that, you’ll most likely report to senior level management and already have a good amount of experience under your belt. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to initiate a career path to a project manager position including at a four-year college, a community or technical college, or a trade apprenticeship.
Before becoming a project manager, however, this type of role typically requires at least 5-7 years of experience in the field.
What skills are important to have as a project manager?
- Strong communicator
- Ability to effectively manage your own time
- Great attention to detail
- Strong problem-solver and the ability to bring creative thinking to a situation
- Enjoy working with other people
- Natural leader
How much money can I make?
In becoming a project manager, you can expect a solid salary. According to the averages, the 2019 Entry Pay for a project manager was $49,000 and the overall average pay was $78,000. This is far higher than the average salary across any U.S. job where that equals $53,924.
What training is needed?
Becoming a project manager takes experience. Learn as much as possible about the industry through hands-on experiences such as internships, apprenticeships or entry-level positions. Seek out older professionals who work as project managers and ask to shadow them or meet with them about the path they built to become a project manager. Once you have five or more years in the field, you’ll be a great candidate for a project management position. You can even pursue certain certifications, such as the certified construction manager credential, to bolster your knowledge and help you be even more effective in your job.
To learn more about becoming a project manager or other careers in the industry, check out the Build Iowa Career Center: https://www.buildiowa.org/career-center/#t=overview&c=project-manager.