A construction labor shortage has been plaguing this country since the end of the Great Recession in 2009. Now that the construction industry is recovering, demand for qualified workers is high. Here are 5 tips for making a career change into the industry.
1) Research the jobs available in your area
There are a wide variety of skills in the construction industry. The best way to find a job is to start by researching the types of workers who are in demand in your area, and balance that against the amount of experience or training you’ll need to qualify for those positions.
If you live in an area where construction is booming and even General Laborers are in high demand, you’ll have an easier time getting an entry-level construction position and then getting trained while on the job.
However, if only skilled construction workers and tradespeople are in demand in your area, it will be easier for you to get into the industry if you complete some training and certification programs first.
Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. recommends connecting to apprenticeships and construction crafts through its network of 70 chapter offices.
2) Get your high school diploma (or equivalent)
A high school diploma will help you qualify for entry-level construction positions such as General Laborer or Carpenter’s Helper. This will open up on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities.
For more skilled roles such as Project Manager or Estimator, you will likely need a technical, associate, or bachelor’s degree.
3) Get additional certifications
While many construction firms prefer to hire workers with a high school diploma for entry-level positions, there are additional certifications that are almost always in high demand and will give you an edge in landing a job.
An OSHA or HAZMAT certification is a big boost to any construction worker’s resume. To find out how to qualify for these certifications, visit OSHA.gov.
4) Write a resume
Resumes aren’t just for “white collar” or administrative jobs. Construction workers need one, too. Having a resume tailor-made to highlight why you would be a good choice for a position will give you an edge in your job hunt over everyone who either didn’t write a resume, or who didn’t write one well.
If you have construction experience or training, highlight it in your resume. If you don’t, highlight your relevant skills instead. Construction work requires punctuality, attention to detail, a commitment to a culture of safety, and being able to work in a fast-paced and labor-intensive environment.
If you need a starting point, Spec On The Job has a resume guide tailored to the construction, trucking, and distribution industries.
5) Work your way up
If you don’t yet have any construction experience, consider building up your resume with jobs that will give you the types of skills construction hiring managers are looking for.
Apply for manual or general labor positions directly, or use a staffing agency to help connect you to these types of jobs (either on a full-time or a temporary basis). These might be cleaning jobs, moving jobs, or jobs loading and unloading trucks. Doing well in positions like these will demonstrate to a construction employer that you’re capable of performing physically demanding job duties, working on a team, and being punctual.
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