If someone was to have asked me fifteen years ago what I would be doing I could not have guessed a career in construction. Building really cool structures is not something that everyone get’s the opportunity to do in their life. When I graduated high school I didn’t even know this opportunity existed for me, so today I thought I’d write an article about the different opportunities for people to get involved in this industry.
There are many approaches to getting involved in construction management or construction in general. It’s one of the few industries where a PhD is not necessarily valued heavier than a college diploma and experience. Because so much of what we do is dependent upon knowledge typically that is valued more. So below I’ve compiled some tips or advice for someone looking to get into this field!
Start A Career in Construction With Some Work Experience
Seriously this is the best advice for any young person I see interested in the industry. Do some labour or surveying work prior to getting involved. Help your dad put a roof on, frame your basement, starting a painting business. The really cool thing about this is that it will teach you about different aspects about the industry while providing you with detailed knowledge about a trade.
For me, I worked in the as a surveyor for a summer job and after that I got a job in a machine shop fabricating car parts. At the time I thought the job was monotonous inspecting and grinding down welds, but now steel and layout are one of my stronger scopes of work and I can fully understand them when someone says the weld is poor.
The really cool thing about this is that it will teach you about different aspects about the industry while providing you with detailed knowledge about a trade.
Take Some Schooling
Ultimately getting into the industry in Canada or the United States means taking some schooling. As I mentioned above, school in this industry is not given the same importance as it would be as a doctor or a business consultant. Many companies value experience and knowledge over schooling. Rightfully so, you can learn much more in an afternoon with a carpenter than you can in a semester of courses at University.
That all being said school is an important part of everyone’s education and learning the fundamentals and some of the theoretical knowledge related to why we do things is important. In addition schooling can sometimes provide you with the contacts you need to land a job, which brings us to our next point…
Career in Construction Through A Coop Or Apprenticeship
A coop placement or apprenticeship can be one of the most valuable experiences in a persons life. I was fortunate enough to get a placement at an incredible company which than opened up into a full-time position. Through the co-op I was able to meet people in different industries, and build relationships early on in my career. Some of my best contacts are people I met during this time in my life.
Ultimately if the full time job hadn’t have been offered to me, I likely could have moved on and been offered a job through one of the people I knew through the placement. This is why I value this as the highest opportunity for people looking to get into the industry, the experience, insight and contacts you build in the industry during a coop or apprenticeship are invaluable.
Industry Events and Networking
Yes I know it sounds like I’m a recruiter but the honest truth is getting to know people is a huge part of industry. I can’t count the number of times someone’s handed me their card or I’ve given them mine only to pass along their resume to my human resource department. These types events are really important to not only sell yourself but just to meet people. Meeting people will help you in your career in construction.
Maybe you can learn something about roofing at an event, or a new lead on a project, maybe you can find someone that shares the same struggles as you. No matter what comes out of these types of situations it’s rarely bad.
Just Jump In
Ultimately no matter what you do just getting involved and showing interest is the first step to advancing your career in construction. There are a lot of really good people out there who are happy to pass along their knowledge and stories, so just finding those people and listening is a good first step.