Careers in construction involve both skilled trades and professions. Here are some examples of the careers in this sector:
- Concrete Finisher
- Construction Craft Labourer
- Crane Operator
- Elevator Constructor
- Exterior Finisher
- Floor Covering Installer
- Glazier/Metal Mechanic
- Heat and Frost Insulator
- Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic
- Heavy Equipment Mechanic
- Heavy Equipment Operator
- Interior Finisher
- Painter and Decorator
- Plasterer and Drywaller
- Sheet Metal Worker
- Sprinkler Fitter and Sprinkler Systems Installer
What Is Construction?
Skilled construction workers build homes, offices, schools, bridges, roads, factories and shopping malls.
There are four sectors in the construction industry.
- New Home Building and RenovationThis sector of the construction industry employs 50 percent of all construction workers in Canada. It involves building, remodelling or renovating single-family homes and apartment buildings.
- Heavy Industrial ConstructionThis sector of the construction industry involves building industrial facilities such as cement factories, automotive manufacturing facilities, chemical or power plants, refineries and oil-sands installations. Projects in this sector often take years to complete and involve a wide range of construction careers. There are many opportunities to advance to planning, supervisory, management or teaching roles.
- Institutional and Commercial Construction
This area includes building commercial and institutional buildings such as stadiums, schools, hospitals, grain elevators and indoor swimming pools. The projects tend to be large and varied, and there are many opportunities for long-term career building that will take workers into supervisory, management or teaching roles.
- Civil Engineering Construction
These engineering projects involve the building of highways, dams, water and sewer lines, power and communication lines, and bridges.
Construction Industry Characteristics
Construction has historically been place-specific and materials are assembled onsite by local workers. Construction is unlike most other industries in that outsourcing and assembly line production are not easily applied to the building of infrastructure, commercial buildings and homes. Construction work generally occurs on site and, while some components may be manufactured offsite, it is impossible to prefabricate an excavation.
From: Changing Dimensions of British Columbia’s Labour Market, Implications for the Construction Industry
How Do I Get into the Industry?
There are many ways to get started in the construction industry:
- Register as an apprentice and combine on-the-job training with in-class learning. In BC you can start earning credits toward your apprenticeship while you’re still in high school.
- Enroll at a university, community college or technical institute and study for the construction career of your choice.
- Find a job as a construction labourer and learn the skills you need on the job. Many employers will also support workers who wish to complete an apprenticeship.
How Much Will I Make?
Construction workers often earn more per hour than university graduates, and the average construction worker’s annual salary is higher than the overall national average. If you start out in the construction industry as an apprentice, you can earn while you learn and avoid the student loan debts many college and university graduates face.
Sample Construction Career Profiles
Carpenters are involved in everything from building the forms for high rises using construction lumber all the way to the manufacturing of boat interiors using the finest of hardwoods. The field of carpentry is huge and so carpenters often specialize in certain types of carpentry work.
A wide range of duties, depending on the specific job, can include:
- Reading blueprints to develop a materials list and cutting schedule that makes the best use of lumber.
- Using hand and power tools to cut and shape wood after making careful measurements.
- Framing for wood frame houses and low-rise apartments.
- Manufacturing wooden assemblies, such as roofing trusses and beams, that will be installed on the job site by other workers.
- Working to standards outlined in provincial and national building codes, understanding these standards and staying current with changes to building codes.
- Planning a job from blueprints that will make the best use of dimensional lumber.
- Using advanced fitting and measurement skills to make pieces that precisely fit the site and the building. This may involves taking a mould or making a pattern to fabricate the finished piece.
Number of BC carpenters: 14,739
Estimated openings (2001-2011): 5,560
Percentage of self-employed carpenters: 35%
People in this occupational group work in government, architectural and construction companies, utility, resource and manufacturing industries, private sector design, surveying, mapping and computer software firms.
A wide range of duties, depending on the specific job, can include:
- Architectural technologists and technicians research and prepare drawings and contracts for professional architects and civil design engineers.
- Industrial designers create and produce designs for consumer, industrial and business products.
- Drafting technologists and technicians use computer-aided design and drafting equipment to prepare designs and drawings.
- Survey technologists and technicians conduct or participate in field surveys to determine exact locations and positions of natural features and other structures.
- Mapping and related technologists and technicians prepare maps, interpret aerial photographs and operate airborne remote and in-house sensing and interpretive equipment, as well as geographic information systems.
Number of BC drafting technicians: 6,690
Estimated openings (2001-2011): 2,830
Percentage of self-employed drafting technicians: 17%
Glaziers are responsible for putting glass into windows, installing metal frameworks for glass and building the walls of modern buildings that are made of suspended glass panels.
Glass is widely used in modern architecture and glaziers are called on to do a lot of different tasks:
- Cutting and bevelling glass plate. This requires special tools and a knowledge of how glass breaks in different circumstances.
- Reading and interpreting blueprints. Glaziers read blueprints to find out which types and sizes of glass are needed, draw up a materials list and create a workplan for the installation.
- Making support framing. On some jobs, the glazier makes the metal framework that supports plate glass and installs railings and other structural details that support glass.
- Building and dismantling scaffolding. Glaziers often work high above the ground on scaffolding. Glaziers often set up and take down their own scaffolding, which requires attention to safety regulations.
- Etching and tinting glass. Glaziers apply special effects to glass, such as tint coatings or etched patterns, for decoration or privacy.
- Prefabricating and fitting glass panels and windows. Sometimes glaziers work in factories where they make framed windows that are ready for installation on the construction site. Glaziers may also work alongside cabinetmakers, fitting glass into furniture.
- Installing mirrors and showcases. Glaziers install large mirrors and custom showcases, using special techniques to minimize breakage.
- Preparing cost estimates and sales. Glaziers who work as independent contractors have to prepare cost estimates and explain their services to potential customers.
- Using a computer layout program. Efficient use of material and precision fits in the finished project can be achieved by using computer layouts.
Number of BC glaziers: 1,060
Estimated openings (2001-2011): 375
Percentage of self-employed glaziers: 19%