4 Exciting Areas of the Construction and Building Industry
As you consider the path you might want to take in a new construction career, it helps to understand all of your main options. That's especially true now. This industry is alive with an incredible variety of opportunities, which continue to become more varied and interesting.
For instance, just think about the trend of green building, which involves using environmentally friendly materials and construction methods. In 2005, only two percent of all new nonresidential projects in the U.S. could be considered green. However, by 2012, that number increased dramatically—all the way up to 41 percent.*
Also, here's something you might not know: Over 60 percent of all construction projects are retrofits of existing structures. So the industry isn't just all about building stuff that's brand new, although a lot of that still happens. The entire sector accounts for about $800 billion of the nation's GDP.*
Of course, the most fascinating aspect of the construction industry might just be the amazing number of occupations you can choose from. And they aren't all physical trades. For example, a lot of people enjoy construction careers within areas like administration, inspection, engineering, and occupational health and safety.
That said, a lot of the most popular vocational options in this industry are either skilled trades or within the field of construction management. And many of them are growing faster than average. For example, check out the percentage of employment growth that is projected to take place between 2012 and 2022 for the following roles:**
- Carpenters—24 percent
- Plumbers—21 percent
- HVAC technicians—21 percent
- Electricians—20 percent
- Heavy equipment operators—19 percent
- Construction managers—16 percent
Each of those trades, as well as several others, contribute to the four main areas of the construction and building sector, which include:
1. Residential Construction
This part of the industry primarily involves constructing or remodeling homes, including single-family dwellings and multi-family structures like apartments, condos, and duplexes. And it includes every stage of construction. So professionals and tradespeople with all kinds of skills are required. Some of them design and plan single homes or entire housing developments. Some excavate and prepare the land. And others specialize in building, installing, or finishing certain parts of each structure.
In 2013, more than 596,600 people were employed in America's residential building sector. And they earned, on average, over $46,500 per year.***
2. Commercial and Institutional Construction
The buildings constructed in this area of the industry are often larger and more complex than residential ones. They include structures like skyscrapers, shopping malls, hospitals, schools, and sports and entertainment venues. And they frequently incorporate building materials (such as steel) that you won't find in most smaller structures. In some cases, that means the tradesmen and women who work on them need skills that are a little more specialized.
About 665,450 people worked in the area of commercial and institutional building in 2013. Their average annual pay was $57,440.***
3. Industrial Construction
Major industries like manufacturing, oil refining, chemical processing, and electric power generation need their own specially constructed facilities. And that often requires a lot of people who have skills that are very specific to those industries and the technologies they use. That doesn't just go for the actual construction side of things, but also for areas like design and planning.
In 2013, more than 447,000 people in the U.S. held jobs in the utility construction sector alone. On average, they made nearly $50,300 per year.***
4. Civil Infrastructure Construction
Jobs in this area—one of America's largest construction sectors—mostly serve the greater public interest. And the types of projects are remarkably varied. They include the building or restoration of structures like roads, tunnels, bridges, sewer systems, pipelines, airports, public transit systems, railways, and communications systems. They can also include jobs that involve subdividing and preparing large lots of public land for major projects.
This sector employed nearly 887,500 people throughout the U.S. in 2013. Their annual pay was over $51,200, on average.***
* U.S. Green Building Council, website last visited on January 26, 2015.
** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, website last visited on January 26, 2015.
*** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last visited on January 26, 2015.