Finding a path to the top in construction can seem daunting. With so much competition from other workers trying to progress through the ranks, getting promoted or receiving a pay raise requires strategy, dedication, and hard work.
Fortunately, the construction industry offers a variety of ways to advance internally. With each new project comes another opportunity to step up, take control, and be a leader. Taking advantage of that kind of “break” will put you in prime position to succeed. In fact, even if you fail on that initial attempt for promotion, the management will recognize your intent and will likely remember your name once another project comes up.
The key is putting in the work first and proving you’re serious about advancing your career. With that said, we’ve identified a few tips for getting ahead in the construction industry.
Tips on Career Advancement in Construction
While hard work itself is enough in some cases, there are also plenty of other things that you can do in order to take your career in construction to the next level. Let’s take a look at some:
The common saying goes, ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Regardless of how you feel about it, the same rings true in construction. To make it to the top, it helps to have people of power on your side. They can vouch for you, introduce you to other connections, or promote you themselves. Make it a point to be friendly with management or other key figures of your team.
These relationships don’t have to be built through sucking up to your boss. You can build relationships by being trustworthy, taking initiative, exceeding expectations, and going the extra mile on projects. Applying more effort into your work will show management you’re serious about your job.
Build Up Certifications
Training is key in the construction industry, and most roles require vocational or academic training. From a professional standpoint, the more certifications that you have as a construction workers, the more opportunities will be presented to you.
For example, receiving your Confined Space training certification will present more, often high-paid, opportunities. The same applies to HAZWOPER and MSHA training, too. Even more so, earning the construction certifications required for management positions can further improve your chances of reaching the next level of your profession.
Ideally, you would like to choose the courses that could be taken online so you can easily manage your job, personal time, as well as your career development on the side. If nothing else, training programs like the ones mentioned above can certainly improve the strength of your resume.
Keep Your Certifications Up-to-Date
As mentioned above, new projects may come in at any given time. It’s important to be mentally and technically prepared for any opportunity that may come your way. Once you’ve earned various certifications along the way, it’s then crucial to keep them updated. This can be done by understanding the various laws around OSHA refresher courses.
Expired certifications are practically useless. Staying ahead of the game by proactively keeping all certifications up to date goes a long way when applying for management positions or getting promoted.
Think Outside the Box
Sometimes the best career advancement isn’t a step up, but rather a step to the side. John Menard Jr. founded the hardware store chain Menard’s in 1972, which is now the third biggest store of its kind in the US. The billionaire used his experience as a construction worker to make Menard’s what it is today. While a monumental feat like that is hard to replicate, you can use an example like this when you feel like you’ve hit a career roadblock.
Try using your experience in construction to start a business, create a product, or hire your own crew. While this strategy involves plenty of risk, it comes with the potential for enticing rewards. Industries are constantly being ‘disrupted’ by startups and new technology, who’s to say you can’t do the same in construction?
A 2017 study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that from 1991-2015 that blue-collar industry jobs in construction and transportation had seen growth in 38 states. If you feel like 2015 is a very long time ago, then the Global Construction Outlook to 2022 report published earlier this year should make for a fair indication of how the industry is expected to make gains within the next three years.
Of course, there are markets that may not reflect this forecast, but the important takeaway here is that the expected growth that’ll fuel the industry from this year forward will come from advanced economies such as the US. The abundance of job opportunities means that there’s also a very good chance that putting in the work now will payoff big time in the long run.
Learning Opportunities and Promotions
Construction is one of those industries where hard work and loyalty are both rewarded generously. While there are people that would come in with degrees who may outright compete for leadership positions, workers who have gone through vocational training also get a fair amount of opportunities to rise through the ranks. Specializing on a specific trade or skillset is also valuable, since the field is so diverse that there’s enough room for people can stand out in their preferred jobs.