Exploring Manufacturing CareersConstruction Worker

In our educational series, we explore different careers in manufacturing.

As a jack-of-all-trades, construction workers wearing hard hats are the ones you would likely notice on a variety of construction projects such as commercial projects, demolition, highway construction, tunnel excavation, and residential construction. You would see them perform tasks that involve physical labor at construction sites. Construction workers could operate hand and power tools of all types, such as air hammers, cement mixers, earth tampers, small mechanical hoists, surveying and measuring equipment, and other instruments. They are responsible for preparing the construction site, where they usually dig trenches, erect scaffolding, set braces to support the sides of excavations, and clean up the rubble, debris and other waste materials.

Aside from loading and unloading building materials in the site, construction laborers or workers must follow instructions and construction plans as directed by their supervisors. They are present to perform a variety of tasks during every stage of the construction until its completion. With special training, laborers could assist in the transport and even use explosives or run hydraulic boring machines to dig out tunnels. They could learn to use laser beam equipment to place pipes and use computers to control robotic pipe cutters. After securing certifications and permits, they could remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals and transport them to the appropriate area.

Why Become a Construction Worker

As there are no specific educational requirements for entry-level construction workers, most laborers learn their trade through short-term on-the-job training. Others could attend an association training class, a trade or vocational school, or community college to receive further training. Construction contractors or temporary-help employment agencies could sometimes provide job opportunities for aspiring workers. Through combined training and experience, construction workers may advance into job positions that involve more complex and specialized tasks.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a projected growth of twenty four percent for the employment of construction workers and laborers from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Repairing and replacing the country's infrastructure, such as bridges, roads, and water lines, should lead to a solid demand for this occupation. Salary reports indicate that the mean annual wage for the employed construction laborers and workers would be approximately $35,750 as of May 2014.

Construction Worker Work Environment

Most construction laborers and workers do physically demanding work at great heights or outdoors exposed to all weather conditions, and others could be obliged to work in cramped tunnels. These dedicated workers must use earplugs around loud equipment and wear gloves, hard hats, safety glasses, and other protective gear to avoid any injuries. Construction laborers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Construction workers may experience burns from chemicals or equipment, cuts from tools and materials, and falls from scaffolding and ladders.

Some construction jobs may expose laborers to harmful materials, odors, fumes, and even dangerous machinery, which is why they should wear protective equipment even if it is uncomfortable. Due to the lifting and carrying heavy materials, construction workers could obtain muscle fatigue and injuries. Many construction laborers work full time and although construction jobs may halt during bad weather, it is very common that they would make up through overtime to satisfy deadlines. To avoid major disruptions in traffic, construction workers and laborers may need to report on night shifts.

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