A Guide to Launching Your Career in Construction

How to build a solid foundation for your future in construction

The construction industry is a multi-faceted field that involves many specialties such as Architecture, Engineering, Building Construction‌ and Specialty Trades. If you enjoy design-creativity, community development, figuring out how parts and pieces go together, or love to get your hands dirty, then this industry has something you can be a part of. We’ll explore some essential steps to help you start a career in construction.

Identify what your interests are

There’s a saying: “When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life”! Think about what you’re passionate about and the things that bring you joy? What do you do in your spare time? What types of things would you volunteer to do?  Do you like to tinker around and build something? Or do you grab a pencil and drawing pad and sketch? Are you helping friends put things together or work on their projects? Do you like puzzles and strategy games? 

Many different tests can help you identify your strengths and passions, which can help you choose a career that suits you best. Yet, if you answered “yes” to some of the questions above, you might just find your future in building construction.

Determine if a career in construction is right for you 

It may seem too simple, but talking to people in different fields of construction is a great place to start. If there is a particular trade that interests you, or maybe you like the idea of touching all parts of the construction process, finding people to connect with is an integral place to start. If you already have a role model in the industry that can give you guidance for your future, that’s great. However, if not, putting yourself in a position to find one is important.

Find people in construction to connect with

Consider trade shows and conferences to build your network

One way to find people in the industry to talk to is to attend trade shows or conferences. Most cities have local chapters of organizations such as NAWIC, ABC‌ and AGC. Many of them put on local conferences, trade shows and events. Visit their websites for information on events that are upcoming and plan your attendance. 

Some events may have a small fee to attend, but the opportunity to grow your network is usually always worth it in the end. Give yourself a goal of meeting at least two people in a trade you’re interested in. This helps you prepare for a follow-up conversation to ask more questions or explore potential opportunities after the event.

Gain hands-on experience with volunteering and charity programs for construction

Consider volunteering for programs like Habitat for Humanity or other local charities. These programs provide you with an opportunity to build something, but also allow you to meet people in construction. Moreover, these groups can give you hands-on experience with tools and provide you with experience following a plan. Additionally, they test your coordinating and communicating skills to complete a project and expose you to what construction is all about on a small scale.  

Learn the tricks of the trades with education programs for construction

Construction education programs such as trade schools or 4-year degree programs are another great way to start your construction career. You will learn the fundamentals of project management in construction during your course of study. Moreover, some programs provide internships with local construction, architecture, engineering‌ and trade-specific companies. Internships provide a way to gain real-life experience in the “day-in-the-life” of these roles. Ultimately, this can be invaluable in helping you decide on your career path. 

Connect tangible and personal skills to build your career in construction

Deciding on the path that’s right for you is the first step. For me, I grew up in the industry and knew from an early age that I wanted to find a home somewhere in construction. My next step was a degree program and formal education. 

For you, perhaps it’s learning a skill such as carpentry, masonry, electrical work, plumbing‌ or project management. While you are learning these valuable skills, make sure you’re also sharpening your interpersonal skills such as communication, team work‌ and problem solving.

Develop a unique resume that showcases your education, skills‌ and practical experience. In your portfolio, it’ll be important to list any of the following:

  • Awards
  • Certifications
  •  Project highlights
  • Designs‌ or contributions to construction teams

Next you’ll be ready to explore job opportunities with construction companies, architectural firms‌ or project management firms. You’ll want to tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight your relevant skills and experiences for the specific opportunities before you.

Be a continual learner – keep advancing your skills in construction

The industry is ever-changing along with the construction landscape, and it’s important to stay informed. From activities in your local city to changing technology and construction methodology. Subscribe to relevant blogs and newsletters like RedTeam’s, online magazines‌ and podcasts that can keep you well-informed. 

You’ll also need to stay up to date with any certifications for your field and make sure you meet them. Among others, consider: 

Once you’ve completed your initial course of learning, stay committed to lifelong learning by seeking advanced certifications or pursuing higher education. Regularly attend workshops, seminars‌ and industry conferences to stay updated on emerging trends.

Resources through programs like RedTeam Cares can help enable and foster your learning throughout your career.

Take the next step your your career in construction

Embarking on a career in the construction industry requires passion, dedication‌ and a willingness to learn. By following these steps, you can lay the groundwork for a successful and fulfilling career in construction. You’ll join a rewarding field that plays an exciting and crucial role in shaping our communities, cities‌ and the world around us.

About the author:

As the Vice President of RedTeam Go at RedTeam and a seasoned professional with two decades of experience in the construction industry, Traci VanDalsem brings a deep understanding of the industry’s dynamics. Having formerly served as President at Paskr (later acquired by RedTeam and product renamed to RedTeam Go), Traci consistently ensures that our clients receive exemplary service and support, underscored by genuine empathy and professionalism.