The construction industry is one of the largest industries in the country. There are almost 700,000 construction companies that employ more than 7 million people.
The average construction worker pulls in about $40,000 every year. But there are overtime opportunities that can make construction a lucrative career. There is also a lot of room for advancement if you prove to be a good construction worker over time.
Before you decide that working as a construction worker is for you, though, it's important to make sure you have the construction skills it takes to work in the industry. Here are 15 essential skills for a construction worker.
1. Physical Skills
You don't need to be a bodybuilder to work as a construction worker. But some of the most important construction skills are the physical skills that you have to have in order to work in the construction industry.
Construction workers must be strong enough to pick up and use various materials and tools throughout the course of a day. They also have to be in good shape and have the stamina to do their jobs for hours on end.
Many construction workers get stronger and build up their stamina over time. But it doesn't hurt for those interested in entering the construction field to pack on some muscle prior to applying for construction jobs.
2. Coordination Skills
While strength is essential for construction workers, you could argue that coordination is every bit as important. Construction workers are often asked to work in tight spaces and keep themselves balanced in awkward positions.
If a person is prone to displaying signs of being clumsy, construction is not the right field for them. They need to be able to show off their coordination at every step when they're working on a construction project.
3. Job Specific Skills
To become a construction worker, you don't need to spend years and years in school. But you do need to learn some of the job-specific skills you'll use day in and day out while working construction.
Some of these skills include:
• Putting up drywall
• Framing new construction
• Performing carpentry work
• Pouring cement
• Laying bricks
Construction workers won't have to do all of these things every day. There might some things that they might only do once every few months.
But construction workers need to spend time working on their job-specific skills until they can perform them with their eyes closed. By mastering these skills, they'll ensure that they're never without a job.
4. Math Skills
Remember when you used to ask, "When am I ever going to use this in real life?", when trying to learn a new concept in algebra or geometry class? You'll be glad you paid attention in those classes when you're working towards becoming a construction worker.
It's impossible to work construction if you don't have strong math skills. The tiniest miscalculation on your part could delay a project or force you to restart a project that's already halfway done.
5. Reading Comprehension Skills
Your math skills need to be sharp when you're a construction worker. But so do your reading comprehension skills!
You're going to be given all kinds of different documents when you're working on a project. It'll be your job to decipher what's in those documents and develop a clear understanding of them.
6. Oral Communication Skills
There are some small construction companies that only have a few employees working for them. But the vast majority of construction companies employ dozens, if not hundreds, of people at a time.
These people need to be able to talk to one another about the progress that's being made on construction projects. More importantly, they have to convey messages to one another clearly so that there is no confusion during projects.
If you're a quiet person who doesn't enjoy interacting with other people, it's going to be tough to make a living as a construction worker.
7. Listening Skills
Being able to communicate with others involves more than talking. You also need to be able to listen to others and make sense of what they're saying while working on a construction project.
You need to be able to listen to everyone, too, including both your fellow construction workers and those who are higher up on the ladder than you. If you're given a command by a superior, it's your job to make sense of it and make sure that you use the information given to you to complete tasks.
8. Collaborative Skills
Communicating on a construction site will help a project run smoothly. But fellow construction workers will have to take collaboration further than that to get projects off the ground and move them towards completion.
Construction workers will need to physically work together and collaborate to get certain jobs done. They'll need to hand materials to one another, hold materials in place, and more.
9. Time Management Skills
Time is always of the essence when it comes to construction. The quicker a company can finish one project, the sooner they can move on to the next one.
Construction workers need to arrive on time every morning and be ready to stay until whatever job they're working on gets done. They also need to work as fast as they can while making sure everything gets done the right way.
Learn more about a tool that can be used to improve your time management skills today.
10. Organization Skills
It's very easy for a construction project to get delayed due to organizational issues. When materials arrive a day late at a construction site or aren't kept in any kind of order once they show up, it can throw a wrench into a construction job.
Construction workers need to stay as organized as can be on a job site. This means creating a schedule for a construction project and sticking to it and setting up an organizational system on site.
11. Technology Skills
Years ago, construction workers didn't need to know the first thing about technology to be successful. But that has all changed now that almost everything has a technological twist to it.
Construction companies use technology to:
• Send out progress reports on projects
• Keep everyone in the loop with regards to last-minute changes
• Track materials and their arrival dates
• File paperwork
• Log hours worked
You can try to get by without knowing much about technology if you want. But you're going to find that it limits your ability to be an effective construction worker.
12. Problem Solving Skills
Mike Tyson once said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." And while he was talking about boxing when he said that, it could just as easily apply to the construction industry.
In construction, everything associated with a project is meticulously planned out. But once the project gets going, things can and will go wrong. The original plan will need to change.
Construction workers need to problem solve to figure out ways to stay close to the original plan while adjusting to getting "punched in the mouth" by the weather or another problem that has popped up.
13. Decision Making Skills
There are a million and one decisions that need to be made on a construction site on a daily basis. Those in charge have to be prepared to make those decisions and stand behind them.
Construction workers themselves will often be asked to make split-second decisions as well. They need to be trained to make the right decisions based on the potential consequences of their actions.
14. Memory Skills
While they're busy working, construction workers need to retain all sorts of useful information. From the instructions that a foreman gave them at the start of the day to the measurements they took a few minutes ago, they need to cram as much info as possible into their brains.
It helps for people to have great memories when they're working as construction workers. They don't have to stop to write things down and can do their jobs more efficiently when their memories are on point.
15. Learning Skills
It doesn't matter if you've been working as a construction worker for a week, a year, a decade, or half a century. Construction workers learn something new almost every day.
There are also courses that construction workers have to take to stay up on the latest construction techniques. You should never stop learning when you're a part of the construction industry. You'll fall behind and struggle to do your job if you do.
Do You Have the Construction Skills to Be a Construction Worker?
You may not need a college degree to become a construction worker. But that doesn't mean just anyone can apply for a construction job and enjoy tons of success.
If you aren't equipped with almost all the construction skills listed here, you're not going to make it very long as a construction worker. You'll have a tough time keeping up with everyone else around you before long.
Want to get some tips that'll allow you to do a better job in the construction industry? Read our blog to find out how it's done.