Useful Qualifications for a Job in Construction

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the demand for construction laborers and helpers will continue to increase at a faster rate than the average for all other occupations through 2024.

As momentum continues to grow for large-scale infrastructure upgrades, the demand for entry-level construction workers remains steady and will likely increase. Entry-level construction workers support repair, remodeling, replacement, and new building projects in all fields, performing a wide range of tasks.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR TRAINING

The skills required to perform different types of tasks at various levels can be taught to entry-level workers through a number of programs, including: on-the-job training; union and contractor-association-sponsored apprenticeship programs that include 2 to 4 years of technical instruction; corporate training and certification programs; high school programs; community college programs; and vocational colleges. As an example of corporate training and certification programs, the United Academy offers entry-level courses in electrical safety, fall protection, first aid, back protection and lifting procedures, basic rigging and inspection, aerial lift operation, and the use of blueprints and machine drawings.

Completion of an apprenticeship program may require 4,000 hours of on-the-job training as well as 300 hours of instruction. Among other topics, the instruction covers the proper use of hand and power tools, safety and health awareness, building construction, road construction, masonry, pipeline construction, demolition, and the use of equipment. Apprentices are required to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent before the completion of their apprenticeship.

TYPICAL ENTRY-LEVEL RESPONSIBILITIES

Construction laborers and helpers may clean and prepare sites, assist with setting the shoring used for trenchwork, assemble and disassemble scaffolding, operate hand and power tools, load and unload trucks, and remove waste materials, all while abiding by safety rules. Much of the work involves manual labor and following instructions provided by more experienced workers and supervisors. Experienced masons, carpenters, electricians, painters, and plumbers often have helpers who carry tools and materials or assist with setting up equipment.

ENTRY-LEVEL SKILLS THAT EMPLOYERS NEED

Although most construction firms do not require formal education, hiring managers seek individuals who offer certain skills and the capability to attain specific certifications. For example, entry-level workers may earn certifications in welding or safety that lead to additional advancements. Many companies seek entry level workers who have math skills and mechanical skills as well as physical stamina and strength. Other highly-desired competencies include communication, team orientation, customer focus, and the capability to remain composed under stress.

Construction laborers and helpers who have good mathematical and analytical skills can assist with job site measurements. Understanding construction plans and following processes requires a combination of reading and analysis. Each of these skills translates into making precise measurements, calculating angles, interpreting engineering directions, and solving problems. Workers who have mechanical skills can operate equipment used for building, repair, and restoration. This combination of skills allows workers to perform their responsibilities efficiently and without close supervision.