May 1, 2018

The Construction Industry: Myths and Misunderstandings

Think of some of your favorite buildings around where you live – they could be graceful homes, historical landmarks or marvels of modern architecture. Now think of the skills, pride and hard work that went into building them – and the people responsible.

In today’s world, you hear a lot about high-tech, dot-com startup, work-all-day-staring-at-a-computer jobs. As a consequence, some of the most noble, necessary and solid careers don’t get the respect they once did – and still deserve.

There are plenty of misconceptions about jobs in the construction industry. Today we want to address them directly – and provide non-nonsense, real answers to them.

  • Myth: If I don’t go to college, my future will suck.

Fact: Baloney. College isn’t for everyone, and the attitude that every high school graduate needs to attend college is really unfair to a significant number of people, by limiting their opportunity for career preparation.

Today’s job market rewards many skills that can be obtained through a technical college or an apprenticeship program. Students who enjoy working with their hands, designing and building are in demand in the construction industry, and are well paid. Working as a skilled craftsman is a career to be proud of.

  • Myth: Any schmuck can get a job in the construction Industry.

Fact: Construction workers are in high demand, but you need career training to acquire knowledge and skills.

Construction is one of the only industries where employers pay for, host or send their employees to training. Apprenticeships are highly competitive. From education regarding OSHA safety regulations to classes, seminars and conferences regarding the latest construction technology and innovation, construction professionals are constantly improving their skill sets.

Workers interested in pursuing project management or other upper-level positions are often required to obtain a degree or further technical training. In a competitive market, especially the post-recession construction market, it can be very difficult for uneducated or inexperienced workers to find a job.

  • Myth: Working in construction is crazy dangerous.

Fact: Sure, working in construction can be dangerous, but current safety standards and regulations have made the construction industry as safe as it has ever been. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that fatal work injuries in the private construction sector have decreased every year since 2006. Companies have learned that developing risk management plans, holding regular safety meetings and keeping a continuous eye on safety has a major impact on construction-site accidents and injuries. Also, tool manufacturers and equipment vendors are producing equipment with built-in safety features. They’re also hosting their own orientations, trainings and safety meetings, which reinforce the “Safety First” approach.

  • Myth: People work in construction as a last resort.

Fact: Most construction professionals are exactly where they want to be. Construction offers a multitude of jobs for a variety of skill sets, from planning and building to organizing and managing. People who start in a trade when they’re young receive more continuing education and training than the majority of their professional counterparts. This is especially true when you consider that less than half the workforce reports that their job requires a college degree.

Construction workers are employed in an industry that typically works Monday through Friday, with regular working hours and holidays off. They’re also fairly compensated for overtime. Plus, it’s very satisfying to be in a profession where you can work with your hands as well as your head, and can see physical results from your labor on a daily basis. Not to mention that the majority of houses, bridges, roads, high-rises, etc., that you build will be there for decades—if not centuries—to come.

  • Myth: Construction is a simple profession made up of people slinging tools.

Fact: This couldn’t be further from the truth. Construction begins long before a single construction worker or tool ever arrives on the scene. City and town planners, economists, engineers and architects are not performing “simple” jobs. Neither are the trained and skilled workers who show up every day using modern innovations and construction technology to build the world we live in. Construction requires the ability to “think outside the box,” as well as in-the-moment problem-solving skills that are not required in many other professions.

  • Myth: Construction is a dead-end job with no future.

Fact: Construction is a multibillion-dollar industry. From residential homes to fancy hotels and high-rises to complex transportation systems, there are plenty of opportunities for construction workers to get ahead and earn a very comfortable living.

Consider that the median salary for construction project managers is $82,790, and it’s quickly obvious that professional success is a real possibility for construction professionals who are interested in working up through the ranks. It is also one of the few job markets left where entrepreneurs and skilled workers who want to start their own company have the opportunity to grow a lucrative business.

  • Myth: Construction is for high school dummies and dropouts.

Fact: People choose the construction industry because they like to work, use their smarts, show their skills and enjoy the challenges. Individuals with excellent math and reading skills enter this industry to build amazing structures. Construction professionals work with their hands as well as their brains, and take pride in making an idea go from concept to final product.

  • Myth: Construction doesn’t pay.

Fact: The truth is that many construction workers earn more per hour than university graduates, and an average construction worker’s annual salary is greater than the overall national-average salary. If you work your way up in this industry as an apprentice, you can earn money while you’re studying and avoid student loan issues.

  • Myth: The construction industry is no place for women.

Fact: Today both men and women work as respected professionals on the same construction teams, and earn equal pay. You can find talented and well-trained women in this industry, and employers and coworkers appreciate their professional skills.

  • Myth: Only muscle-bound, mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers can make it in construction.

Fact: The construction profession requires you to be physically fit. It does not require you to be big and buff. As a matter of fact, to succeed in this profession, brains are more important than brawn.

It all adds up to a simple conclusion: the construction industry is still going strong, and is still a great choice for people who want a career-path job that’ll never go out of style. Have you ever talked to someone who had a hard time explaining exactly what they do in their computer-based job? Think back on your favorite buildings again… when you’re part of a construction team, there’s no question what you do: you build things. Things that last, things you can see, things you’re proud of.

And that’s certainly not a myth.

Find your Laborers Union Hall