The Top 10 Most Stable Construction Jobs

Construction is one of the most volatile industries because it is subject to fluctuations in the economy. When the going is good, every construction outfit in the world is hiring. When the going is bad, you can look forward to beans and rice for dinner. In fact, during the time period from 2007 to 2009≵which has come to be known as the "Great Recession"≵the construction industry experienced a precipitous decline in employment of nearly 14% almost over night the largest decline in construction employment since the post-World War II era.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that industry wide growth in construction jobs is going to be steady from 2010 through 2020. However, to date, job growth, while steady, has been a bit slower than predicted. Notwithstanding, within the construction industry, certain sectors continually experience greater job security, lower unemployment rates, and more career advancement opportunity. Which jobs are these? We'll explore each below.

Cost Estimator
When most people think of a job in construction, they think of long hours of back breaking labor. While construction does involve manual labor, not all construction jobs require that you break your back or get your hands dirty. Cost estimators are required to wear a hard hat on occasion, but the majority of their time is spent collecting data and crunching numbers in an office. They estimate time, cost, material and labor requirements to construct buildings and structures. Cost estimator may be charged with certain aspects of a job, or they may be responsible for budgeting the cost of a construction project from start to finish.

The most common requirement to become a cost estimator is a bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline such as finance or construction management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the demand for cost estimators will be steady through 2020 but cost estimators who know how to use Building Information Modeling Software will have the greatest employment opportunities.

Construction Manager
At an average salary of $95,000 a year, construction managers are among the highest paid blue-collar workers in the nation. Many construction managers make as much as computer programmers, engineers and other skilled technology professionals. Better yet, the demand for good construction managers is typically quite steady. Construction managers' primary responsibility is the planning and budgeting of construction projects. They're ultimately responsible for making sure a project meets all budget, building specification and deadline requirements. These days a bachelor's degree in construction management, construction science, or a closely related discipline is a entry-level requirement for this occupation. However, earning a two-year associate's degree, combined with relevant work experience, can open the door to several construction management positions. In addition to planning and budgeting, construction managers must have strong communication skills, strong analytical skills and be adept at managing teams.

Demand for construction managers is predicted to be strong and steady through 2020. While the average salary for construction managers is $95,000, those working on larger construction projects, in larger metropolitan areas, report salaries in excess of $140,000 a year.

Civil Engineer
Civil engineers design bridges, water systems, damns, roads, and other infrastructure projects. They are also frequently required to supervise maintenance projects. Many entry-level jobs can be obtained with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, but those who obtain a master's degree in civil engineering enhance their job opportunities and earning potential.

Students enrolled in college degree programs in civil engineering will be required to complete courses in heavy construction, technology, math, physics, and management. Many schools offer PhD degree programs in civil engineering.

It may not seem glorious, but it's a job and a mighty good one if you're interested in reasonable pay and job stability. On average, plumbers make about $52,000 a year and there's always demand for plumbing services. A lot of plumbers work with new building construction installing residential and commercial waste and water systems. But when new construction is down, there's always a need for maintenance and repair work for older construction. Demand in this profession is spurred by several factors including the level of new building construction, installation of more efficient plumbing systems and a growing population of older plumbers who will be retiring soon.

If you're interested in this career, you'll need to complete a four- to five-year apprenticeship and become licensed. However, unlike many career paths that require you to attend school full-time without getting paid, most plumber apprentices still get paid as they learn their trade.

Glaziers cut, install, attach, seal, and remove glass used to make windows and skylights in stores, malls, skyrises, commercial building and and any other type of structure that requires glass paneling. It may not seem glamorous, but it's steady and somewhat secure especially when compared with other construction trades. While not the most specialized of the construction trades, not everybody can be a glazier. For starters, glaziers cannot have a fear of heights. Sometimes their job requires them to work suspended hundreds of feet above the ground. Most glazier work on the exterior of buildings, but the need to retrofit and repair existing buildings allows some to work on indoor projects.

The employment outlook for glaziers it positive with the best job opportunities in California, Texas, and Washington. These areas also tend to offer the highest pay. The average salary for Glaziers is roughly $42,000 a year. Job growth through 2020 will be spurred by commercial buildings increasingly installing glass exteriors.

Cement Mason & Concrete Finisher
Most buildings and structures are made out of cement to some degree or another. Even glass, steel or wooden structures almost always have a foundation made of a cement mixture reinforced with rebar or other materials. A growing number of buildings and structures are now using a greater percentage of concrete in their construction. Walls, ceilings and even furniture accessories are now commonly made of cement mixtures and composites. Cement masons and concrete finishers select the correct cement mixture for construction projects, pour the cement, spread and level it, monitor the cement as it cures and hardens, and apply sealants. The majority of cement masons learn their trade through an apprenticeship. However, there are many trade and vocational schools that now offer formal training programs and courses in concrete finishing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cement masons with formal training should have the best job opportunities.

The average annual salary for this industry is roughly $40,000 a year. However, in many regions, concrete finishers and mason can earn substantially more. In the major metropolitan areas of New York, Alaska and Illinois, earning $70,000+ a year as a cement mason is not uncommon.

Not many people aspire to a career in painting, but it's nothing to shake a stick at. The average annual salary for a full-time painter is just under $40,000 a year and if you run your own painting business you can earn even more. While the painting industry, like other fields of construction, ebbs and flows with fluctuations in the economy, during a slower economy, when new construction is down, there are still residential and commercial projects that require painting. With a high school diploma or GED, and a little bit of experience, any healthy adult can start a career in painting. However, there are formal three- to four-year apprenticeship programs that allow painters to become certified. The biggest advantage of completing an apprenticeship and becoming certified is that it allows you to become a union worker. Most apprenticeships offer both formal training and practical experience.

Based on analysis of data provided by the BLS, the greatest employment opportunities for painters are available in California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York. While the average annual wage for painters on a national basis is $40k a year, the average annual wage for painters in parts of Illinois is nearly $70,000 a year. Location can have a major impact on pay in this industry.

Brickmason, Blockmason and Stonemason
Masonry is one of the few construction industries that is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment opportunities for brickmasons, blockmasons and stonemasons will grow at a rate of 15% through 2024. This growth will be driven not only by new construction but also by the need to repair older brick buildings that are becoming structurally unsound. Some experts believe that over the next decade the masonry industry may grow at even a much faster pace than 15%. On the job training has traditionally been the path to becoming a mason, however, today formal education at a technical school, or through a three- to four-year apprenticeship, is typically required.

The average annual salary for masons is roughly $51,000. However, brickmasons and blockmasons working in larget cities such as Boston, Detroit, and San Francisco can earn over $70,000 a year. At over $80,000 a year, brickmasons working Boston, Massachusetts are among the highest paid contruction laborers in the industry.

Energy is required at all levels of construction. From lighting to general appliances, to hot tubs and pools, energy is required to bring residential and commercial buildings and structures to life making them livable, and comfortable. In fact, newer construction, which incorporates smart technology, automation, or even solar power, is even more dependent on energy. Electricians provide the power that modern buildings and structures require. Electricians install, maintain, and repair the electrical systems that supply this power.

Electricians that focus on new construction exclusively, especially in the residential sector, will find that their job security is dependent on economic conditions. Electricians in commercial construction, who provide repair services, or specialize, will have greater job security. Those interested in career as an electrician need to earn a high school diploma or GED, complete a four- to five-year apprenticeship and complete courses in electrical codes, mathematics and electrical theory. Most states now require electricians to pass a state exam and become licensed. Becoming a Master of Journeyman Electrician is a long path but provides electricians greater pay and job security. The average salary for electricians is $52,900 a year, but some electricians can make over $70,000 a year. Electricians that own and operate their own business can earn even more.

It doesn't take long to learn roofing or drywall, but you can't just pick up a saw and hammer and become a skilled carpenter overnight. Carpentry requires knowledge and experience. Carpentry is one of the oldest construction trades in the world, and one of the most versatile. Carpenters help develop structures by building and installing the framework, they also build doorframes, stairways, rafters, partitions and just about anything else that is made of wood. There are three types of carpenters: Residential Carpenters, Commercial Carpenters and Industrial Carpenters. Residential carpenters specialize in building and remodelings single-family homes, townhomes and condos. Commercial carpenters build and remodel offices, schools, hotels, hospitals and other commercial structures. Industrial carpenters work on civil engineering projects where they build footings, partitions, concrete forms and more.

Given their versatility, carpenters are able to find employment in just about every sector of construction. Consequently, carpentry is one of the most secure professions within the construction industry. The average salary nation wide for carpenters is just under $45,000. However, carpenters with specialized skills or who own their own business can earn quite a bit more.

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