Career Path Nav
start industry
apprentice
craft
professional
crew leader/
foreman
site
superintendent
middle
school
high/
tech school
community/
tech college
entry
level
senior
management
ceo/
officer
university
degree
assistant project manager project
manager
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Choose Your Career Path!

Construction careers in today’s market are all about high-tech, high-stakes, huge earning potential and the opportunity to travel the world. Wherever you are in your education, there’s a way for you to start training and securing the right credentials now. Click on the path above or on the arrows to navigate through an interactive career path for the construction industry. You can start building your future now.

Download the Career Path as a .pdf

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Industry Apprenticeship

Whether you started career education in high school or not, many construction companies offer apprenticeship programs where you can earn money while you learn a craft. At this point you would be a craft helper or apprentice. While many people struggle with how to pay for post secondary education, the construction industry offers an answer. Some companies have training programs set up within their organizations. They have instructors that hold classes at their headquarters, on job sites, or through local associations. Others pay for you to attend a technical or community college to get your training in the evening while you earn money during the day. There are few industries that offer you the opportunity to earn money while working directly in your field of interest. Welcome to the world of construction!

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Craft Professional

After completing an apprenticeship program through a company or a combination of completing a college program and work as a craft helper, you are now a craft professional. Due to the skills acquired through training and experience, you are making a solid income. You may also be traveling quite a bit depending on the size of the company you are working for. Many professionals enjoy the freedom and pride that this level of accomplishment offers; however, some decide to continue to build on their skills and knowledge. The next step would be to take leadership training offered through the company you work for in order to achieve crew leader or foreman. Or you may be interested in enrolling in college for a construction management degree. Either way, your foundation is solid for your next course of action.

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Crew Leader/Foreman

You now have solid experience as a craft professional and have completed leadership training through your company, local college or a leadership academy where you learned communication skills and effective planning and scheduling. You are in a supervisory role where you are in charge of a crew of craft professionals. It is your job to make sure that work is completed correctly and on time. You are responsible for the safety and work of those under you. You may choose to stay at this level or take safety, supervisory or management training to move into a safety manager, project manager, or superintendent position.

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Site Superintendent

As a superintendent you run the job site. You are on site and in charge of all subcontractors and work that is performed in the construction of that project. You are a craft professional that has been in charge of crews and completed supervisory training, or you are coming from a university project management track and have experience in the field. You will likely travel to different jobs around the United States and possibly the world depending on the size company you work for. Your next step in advancement might be to become a project manager or to move into senior management. A lot of this depends on the structure of the company.

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Middle School – Career Awareness

This is a great time for young people to be introduced to the career opportunities in the construction industry. It is important for them to understand the difference between residential, commercial and industrial construction. Students should find out about the opportunities available in high school to get involved in career and technical education. Information from the Build Your Future campaign should be requested for the classroom: videos, bookmarks, fact sheets for parents, teachers and students. If possible, speakers from the industry should be invited to speak with the students about the opportunities.

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High School/Technical Centers

By taking career and technical education classes in high school, or at a technical center, you can get on the fast track to success. You can take basic construction classes in high school where you can earn credentials if the classes are taught by certified NCCER craft instructors and you successfully complete the programs. These credentials are nationally recognized in the industry and can open the door for you to get a job with a good company that will assist in furthering your education after high school. Some colleges also recognize these credentials and will give you college credit for your successful completions. Either way, you are a step ahead on the path to success.

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Community College or Technical College

More and more colleges are offering construction craft training classes. Not only are they offering these classes, but they are offering college credit for successfully completing them. Imagine getting to learn how to hook up a sound system or learning laser beam welding while earning college credit. Craft training courses offer just that. These classes are all about hands-on training. If you are not enrolled in a program at college through an employer, you can still find a job in the field you are studying as a craft helper. The flexibility of these programs allows the best of both worlds. It does benefit and speed up your earning potential to find a job in your field while you are going to school, but it is not required.

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Entry Level

If you did not work while going to college, you will enter the workforce as a craft helper or apprentice. In order to become a craft professional, you must have experience in your field. You will work with a craft professional and have the opportunity to put your college training to work on the job site. It is important for you to get this type of experience before you are the one making decisions on specific procedures and materials on site. A craft professional must perform at a high level of expertise under pressure. Experience, along with journey-level assessments, is the assurance employers need to move you into the position of craft professional.

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Senior Management

By this point, you have managed crews, sites, projects and more. You will now use all of your experience at the corporate level. Many companies have vice presidents that run a variety of divisions: quality control, estimating, safety, human resources and overall management. Understanding the process that projects go through and all of the working parts that it takes to complete projects successfully is vitally important. Your expertise will now be considered when decisions are made for the overall company.

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CEO, Executive, Owner

Regardless of where you start, industry apprenticeship, community college or a university, this level of success in a construction company is dependent more upon your skill and dedication than the path you took to get here. There are thousands of great stories within the construction industry of how a kid that loved to build things or tinker ended up as CEO or owner of a company. If there is one industry that allows multiple paths to success, it is the construction industry. Most careers have a single path to success that very specifically spells out what you do and what order you do it in. Construction allows you to create your own path to success. Is it college first, work first, or both? The most important aspect is that you get credentials whether it is through the college system or the industry, credentials do matter. Your level of success is in your hands.

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University Degree

Construction Management has become a big draw for many young people. There are various four and five year programs that offer construction related degrees from design, to project management, estimating, human resources, architecture, engineering, and safety. These programs typically include a mix of technical, managerial, and business courses. You do not need to have previous construction experience; you just need to be interested in a fast paced industry with vast growth potential.

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Assistant Project Manager

After completing a construction management program, there are a variety of positions that you can go into within a construction company: assistant project manager, estimator, safety manager, scheduler, quality assurance manager or human resource manager. Most firms will start you as an assistant in one of these positions, because it is important for you to get the experience necessary before managing a project on your own. At this point you will manage single projects at a time, but as you progress, you will become responsible for multiple projects. The size of the firm will determine the amount of traveling you will be doing.

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Project Manager

After completing a construction management program, there are a variety of positions that you can go into within a construction company: assistant project manager, estimator, safety manager, scheduler, quality assurance manager or human resource manager. Most firms will start you as an assistant in one of these positions, because it is important for you to get the experience necessary before managing a project on your own. At this point you will manage single projects at a time, but as you progress, you will become responsible for multiple projects. The size of the firm will determine the amount of traveling you will be doing.