Thinking of joining the construction trades, and wondering if you have what it takes to be successful?
Being a successful tradesperson requires much more skill than simply being able to swing a hammer or weld a pipe. A master tradesperson has unique talents and meticulously honed skills developed over many years of training and hard work.
Similar to any job, it’s not just the hard skills and know-how that matter in the building trades; the soft skills matter, too. In fact, soft skills might matter more! Many of the most successful tradespeople entered their careers with little to no prior knowledge or experience in their field, but their soft skills are what have made them successful. So, what are those qualities and skills?
Thinking of joining the construction trades, and wondering if you have what it takes to be successful?
There’s nothing more satisfying than a job well done. But what might be even more satisfying is the day off after you finish a hard week’s work. All work and no play is no way to live. We don’t get up and go to work every day for the sake of working, we get up to make a living. A living for ourselves and for our families. And not just a living, a good living.
What is a good living? When summer rolls around, we want time off to go on vacations with our family and friends. We want a nice car or truck that gets us to work and then gets us out on the weekends. We want to play video games with our friends, go fishing, go water skiing, or have the family over for a holiday barbecue. The American dream looks different for everybody, but one thing is the same - PlayStations, fishing rods, water skis, and gas grills aren’t cheap. And time off to enjoy them isn’t always easy to get. Coming up on the 4th of July, it’s important to think about what independence really means.
Independence is the freedom to make what you want of your life, and that takes time and money. For decades, the construction trades have ensured that our workers have those freedoms. The building trades focus on what matters most - giving our craftspeople the kind of life they deserve after a hard day’s work. The world seems to squeeze harder and harder each year, but a tradesperson has great wages, vacation time, pension, and benefits. In the building trades, we don’t make do; we make a living.
Join us! The construction trades have room for every worker in America. Start making more money today without taking out a mountain of student loans that will weigh you down for decades. We’ll teach you what you need to know to start your new career and pay you while you learn. Come enjoy a fulfilling career and the independence that the American dream is built on in the building trades.
Happy Independence Day!
Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in the United States reports living with a mental illness? That’s a staggering number! And, as we all know, mental illness and other struggles don’t magically disappear when we walk out the door for work in the morning, only to return when we clock out. It’s something that we carry with us, wherever we go.
Not only do we carry our struggles with us into our work life, but our work environments and workload can also play a big role in how we respond to those struggles. It can be make or break. That’s why it’s imperative that employers be aware of these issues and actively advocate for and develop a healthy physical and mental work environment.
While working in the construction industry can sometimes be challenging due to tight deadlines and demanding physical conditions, what’s unique about the construction trades is their unwavering commitment to their members’ health and well-being. Not only do the trades provide comprehensive health and wellness benefits, but they are also working hard to break the stigma around mental health while providing countless avenues for union members to get the help they need when they need it.
Many of the building trades have dedicated mental health programs for their members to raise awareness and provide needed resources and services. SMART Union has a Membership Assistance Program, IUPAT has Helping Hand, and the Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers have a Member Assistance Program. These are just a few of many! There are also numerous joint initiatives, such as the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. This level of awareness, care, and support of employees’ mental and emotional health is unparalleled across industries.
In the trades, there’s also support and camaraderie between coworkers like nowhere else. It’s a brotherhood and sisterhood. When one person is down, it impacts everyone. Tradespeople are notorious for their steadfast support of one another, no matter what struggles are being faced, and are always there to lift each other up.
In life, you will always have difficulties; what’s important is surrounding yourself with people who genuinely care. In the trades, you can be certain you will be cared for physically, mentally, and emotionally and you won’t have to face any challenge alone in work or personal life.
Are you ready to get started with a rewarding career where you know you’ll be supported through all of life’s ups and downs? Consider joining the thousands of men and women pursuing a career in the building trades. Learn how to get started today.
When people think of construction work, they often think of jobs, and not careers. But for most in the construction trades, their work is not a job, not a career, but a true vocation. Don’t believe us? A recent report showed that 83% of tradespeople are highly satisfied in their choice of work!
What is it about the construction trades careers that is so appealing to hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers? Here are just a few of the reasons why a career in the construction trades is such a great choice:
Did you know that women made up only 11% of the construction industry in 2021, despite making up nearly half of the entire workforce in the U.S.?
Why? There’s a longstanding notion that construction work is a man’s work. A notion that women don’t belong on job sites; that they’re not strong enough or smart enough for jobs in construction. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Yet, this perception is so ingrained in our society many women don’t realize that construction trades are a path open to them, AND the path is open, and open wide.
During Black History Month, we pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Africans and African Americans who built, and continue to build, the United States.
The National Black Chamber of Commerce tells us that “African slaves were brought to this continent in the early 1500’s to build New York (New Amsterdam at the time), Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC and the entire Southeastern territories. The craftsmanship that was learned through this action gave freed slaves an advantage as we slowly approached the Industrial Revolution. America relied on the crafts learned by Blacks during slavery and passed along to offspring from generation to generation.”
Unfortunately, the history of Black people and construction has not always been positive. Forced to build this great nation as enslaved people, and then later systematically blocked from joining guilds and labor unions, Black craftspeople have nevertheless honed their skills and thrived in the building trades. Read this blog post by AGC of California about Black inventors who helped shape the construction industry. For example, in 1887, Alexander Miles, inventor and businessman, patented an innovative electric mechanism to open and close elevator doors, vastly improving their safety.
The history of Black workers and the labor movement is even more compelling. In 2016, the Center for Economic and Policy Research published a report on Black workers, unions, and inequality. The report finds that “(u)nionization rates have been in decline across the board for decades. Despite fact, Black workers are still more likely than workers of any other race or ethnicity to be unionized. In 2015, 14.2 percent of Black workers and 12.3 percent of the entire workforce were represented by unions, down from 31.7 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively, in 1983.”
Why is this significant? The report finds that “(B)lack union workers… enjoy higher wages, and better access to health insurance and retirement benefits than their non-union peers. These benefits persist even after controlling for systematic differences between the union and non-union workforce. Specifically, Black union workers on average earn 16.4 percent higher wages than non-union Black workers. Black union workers are also 17.4 percentage points more likely than non-union Blacks to have employer-provided health insurance, and 18.3 percentage points more likely to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan.”
During Black History Month, we salute the Black men and women who are members of the construction trades. We thank them for their service, their loyalty, and their hard work. We know we’ve got work to do to make our Black members feel genuinely a part of our community. Which is why we join with NABTU (North America’s Building Trades Unions) when they say, “(i)n the Building Trades, we understand the importance of creating economic opportunity and equality for all. That is why we maintain our ongoing commitment to strengthening our grassroots recruitment and retention efforts to foster a more diverse workforce; particularly one that is more inclusive of people of color, women, veterans, and the justice-involved. NABTU will continue doing whatever it takes to dismantle pervasive racism, uplift historically-marginalized communities, and expand middle class workforce opportunities for all backgrounds.”
During the “Great Resignation” of 2021, millions of U.S. workers left their jobs. According to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a record 4.5 million workers in America quit in November 2021 alone. What’s more, 74% of full-time workers say they’re planning on quitting their jobs in 2022. The reason? U.S. workers are citing dissatisfaction with pay and benefits, work life balance, and career advancement, but that’s only part of the story. After 2 years of pandemic life, stress levels are at an all-time high, employee engagement is extremely low (34%), and much of the American workforce is feeling undervalued, overworked, and struggling to find meaning and purpose in their jobs and careers.
The million-dollar question being asked by these millions of people: what jobs do the 34% of engaged, satisfied employees have, and how do I get that job, too?
We’ve got the answer: many of them work in the building trades. A recent report showed that 83% of tradespeople are still highly satisfied in their choice of work, despite all of the hurdles and hardships that the pandemic has imposed on all of us.
Did you know that the average American spends approximately 90% of their time indoors, and that nearly 86% of American workers sit all day at their jobs? As humans, our bodies were designed to move often and freely in the outdoors, not sit at desks in artificial light and stale air. Countless studies have proven that few things are better for our health than spending time outdoors, on our feet, in natural light.
This is why a job in the building trades is such a breath of fresh air, both literally and figuratively. As we all know, many construction jobs take place outdoors. For example, tradesmen and women build homes and office buildings, they construct bridges and highways, they maintain the power and telephone grids, and they install the networks and charging stations our electrified homes and cars need. There are exceptions, of course, but even the tradespeople who work indoors more frequently, such as the finishers, spend considerably more time outdoors than the vast majority of the population. The mental and physical benefits are countless. Spending time outdoors:
As a kid, the scariest things in life were the dark and things that lived in the dark: goblins, ghouls, monsters under the bed, and ghosts. As we got older, our fear of ghosts and the dark may have faded but we are still often scared of the new or the unknown.
If you’ve ever considered a major career shift, you know this type of fear well - the fear that comes with not knowing what lies ahead and feeling unprepared. Will it be worth it? What if I fail? What if I’m not qualified or don’t have the training for the job I’d love to have? Is it worth it to start over, when I’ve already invested time and energy in my current career? What If I’m not good at it? And on the other hand, what if you don’t make a change? If you stay in your current career, will that lead to a life of regret? Will you be unhappy and unfulfilled day in and day out? These are big and hard questions. No wonder it feels scary!
But it doesn’t have to be. By entering an apprenticeship to begin a rewarding career in the building trades, most, if not all, of the what-ifs are covered for you:
What if we told you that you could create for a living and make good money while doing it? You’d probably be skeptical, and we wouldn’t blame you. But a creative career that pays well, with amazing benefits no less, is possible through a career in the building trades.
“Artist” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of someone who is working on a construction site. Chances are you think of someone with physical toughness, and not a well-trained and delicate hand like that of an artist or artisan.
But now consider what you think of when you hear about someone who is an artist, artisan, or creative. You think of someone who has a talent for making something out of nothing. Someone who is extremely and specially skilled, likely works with their hands, and creates things that are new and original. They have unique talents, and a honed craft. Many of the building trades, such as carpenters, metalworkers, bricklayers, painters, electrical workers, are all known for the very same things, and require the same creative skills to master their craft.
In the building trades, workers get to create all day long, using their hands to build tangible and beautiful objects and systems. There’s true artistry in every facet of their jobs, and at the end of each day they get to stand back with pride and marvel at their masterpieces. Whether it’s a field of solar panels, an architectural sheet metal roof on a museum, the decorative painting on the side of a building, or the metalwork that holds up a skyscraper, the men and women who work construction are building things that are beautiful and lasting.
The pay and benefits for this work are great, too! Not only do tradesmen and women have careers that are fulfilling and rewarding, they earn good wages, and have access to great benefits like health insurance, paid time off, sick leave, unemployment insurance, job security, a pension, and so much more! And as a bonus, the hours are consistent, providing a great work-life balance that allows time for continuing to create outside of work, too.
If you have a creative mind, love working with your hands, but are struggling to find a career that can feed your passions while paying the bills, we encourage you to explore the building trades. Learn more about the trades and how to get started with an apprenticeship today!