The Phases of a Construction Career, Explained

The Phases of a Construction Career, Explained

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October 20, 2021

October is Careers in Construction Month. To celebrate the occasion, we’re providing a closer look at different aspects of skilled trades careers. Understanding how the different jobs in a company fit together can be helpful as you map your own career.

While there’s some variation from company to company, a lot of construction gigs use a similar employee structure. Let’s look at some of the first rungs on that ladder: community college/technical school and industry apprenticeships. (For a more visualized rundown, visit our Career Path tool.)

Community College and Technical School

Did you know that colleges are increasingly offering construction craft training classes? It’s true. And better yet: These colleges will often give you college credit for passing these training classes. Whether you’re taking craft training courses at a community college or technical school, they’re all taught through hands-on training so you can master construction skills before hitting the job market. Visit our Training Center Directory to find classes in your area.

When you go this route, your next step is landing an entry-level construction gig. One of the best things about working in the skilled trades is the ability to rise through the ranks pretty quickly. In a previous blog post, we interviewed Nick Catona, a construction manager at Lennar, and he told us about working his way up to his current position.

“If you’re young, say 18-19 years old, and you put in the time you’ll definitely be making more money in a few years,” he explained. “If you do the job you’re paid to do and working hard, you’ll be within the reach of great pay. It’s good to see the younger generation in the construction industry. You can start at the bottom and one day you can be a field supervisor. But it all depends on one person: you.”

Industry Apprenticeship

A lot of construction companies offer apprenticeship programs. As an apprentice or craft helper in these programs, you can earn money while you’re learning the ropes. Oftentimes, companies will provide training programs/classes held at their headquarters, at job sites or through local associations. They may also pay you to attend training at a technical school or community college — these classes are held at times when you’re not putting in hours at your job site, so you can still earn money while you learn. Not a bad setup!

Once you complete your apprenticeship, you’re prepped to become a craft professional. As a craft professional, you’ll enjoy solid pay, considerable freedom and even opportunities to travel for work. At this stage, you can begin leadership training — usually offered through your company — prepping you to become a crew leader or foreman.

Garth Huff, a foreman at SSC Underground, told us, “You can definitely work your way up. If you come in with no experience, you get to learn so much. In this field they’re really willing to train and teach the people who want to grow and learn.”

Where Do I Go From Here?

If you do well in your initial leadership roles, advancement opportunities will likely follow. You can become a site superintendent or a construction manager — which can also lead to higher positions in senior management. And, as expected, the pay increases as you climb this career ladder.

If you haven’t started your education in the skilled trades, our Training Center Directory can help you find the right classes for whatever specialty you want to pursue. If you’ve already received your preliminary training and are ready to hit the job market, check out featured positions by category on our Career Center — this is a central hub for Arizona’s skilled trades positions.

A career in construction has real potential, not just for income by also for job satisfaction. It’s a career that leaves a legacy, and makes life better for everyone by providing critical infrastructure. Here’s to your future in the skilled trades!