Why Now Is the Time for Women to Consider a Career in Construction

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Have you seen the headlines?

America is in desperate need of more construction workers. Industry experts say that construction businesses need to hire 2.2 million more workers in the next three years.

It’s easy to equate the construction industry with male workers, and that’s a fair assessment. Men have long dominated construction trades; over 90% of US construction workers are male.

Does this mean there’s no room in the construction world for female workers? Not at all! There are many exciting career opportunities for women in construction, and there’s never been a better time than right now to consider it.

Are you a young woman finishing high school and searching for the right career path? Or perhaps you’re interested in a career change, or you’re returning to the workforce after an extended absence.

Here’s why you should consider pursuing a career in construction.

What’s Happening in the Construction Industry?

First of all, why is there such a shortage of qualified construction workers?

Simply put, demand for new construction continues to grow, outpacing the number of workers entering the field. Millions of Baby Boomers — long the backbone of the construction industry — are retiring each year. Millions more took early retirement since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Meanwhile, for decades well-meaning parents and counselors have pushed their kids towards four-year universities. The result is an entire generation who never considered a career in construction as a viable option. While most college graduates seek comfortable office jobs, the number of skilled construction workers dwindles.

Add in the ongoing pandemic (and the millions of Americans receiving unemployment), and you’ll begin to understand why the construction industry is in need of qualified workers.

What’s the Outlook for Construction Careers?

If you’ve never thought about attending a trade school or pursuing a career in construction, why should you consider it now?

As discussed above, the demand for qualified help outpaces the number of new workers entering the field. According to the BLS, as of January 2020, employment opportunities within the construction industry throughout the country are expected to grow by 6% between now and 2030. This includes opportunities for:

  • Boilermakers
  • Carpenters
  • Heavy equipment operators
  • Drywall installers
  • Electricians
  • Tile and stone setters
  • Insulation workers
  • Ironworkers
  • Masonry workers
  • Plumbers
  • Painters
  • Roofers
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Solar panel installers

In addition to doing hands-on work in the field as a craft professional, there’s also the need for qualified:

  • Accountants
  • HR personnel
  • Construction sales teams
  • Site supervisors
  • Company managers
  • Building contractors
  • Safety technicians
  • Building and site inspectors

While no career path is ever guaranteed, the demand for construction careers is unlikely to diminish anytime soon. Automation and digitalization taking over other fields won’t have as large an impact on the construction industry. After all, some jobs still require human hands and minds — and construction is one of them.

Why Should Women Consider Careers in Construction?

There are plenty of opportunities in the construction world. Why specifically should women consider pursuing a career in construction?

Let’s consider five compelling reasons.

1. Low Barrier to Entry

While some construction careers require advanced education or four-year degrees, many positions do not. Starting a career in construction is possible through local trade schools, apprenticeship programs, or on-the-job learning opportunities.

For example, you may find a “earn as you learn” program that lets you begin working in the field alongside highly-skilled master workers. This could be an appealing career choice if you’re not interested in attending a traditional university (or acquiring the infamous student debt that comes along with it).

Another option is to seek a training program at a Trade School that offers a certificate of completion. These programs give you the knowledge you need to get certified through your state’s certifying agency and begin working in the field. Look for an accredited institution that provides both hands-on instruction and distance learning opportunities for a portion of the program to provide more flexibility to you.

2. Virtually No Gender Pay Gap

Although things have improved in recent years, the average working woman in the US still earns about 81% of what men make.

These numbers are very different in construction careers. According to NAWIC, on average, women earn 99.1% of what a man makes in a similar role. This means there’s virtually no difference in earning potential between a man and a woman.

Hopefully, that percentage will hit 100% someday. Until it does, women in construction can expect to be paid fairly for their skills and abilities, regardless of gender.

It’s also worth noting that the average wages for construction occupations are higher than the national average for other job types. A BLS source cited earlier adds that the median annual wage for all construction jobs is $48,610. Meanwhile, the median average wage for all US occupations is $41,950. (These salaries noted here are from the BLS source, provide general information about salaries, and do not apply specifically to graduates of InterCoast Colleges.)

3. Women Think Differently Than Men

Don’t worry; this isn’t turning into a “battle of the sexes” debate. We’re merely highlighting the scientifically-proven fact that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently.

Researchers have found that men’s brains are hard-wired for motor skills. Meanwhile, women’s brains are optimized for combining intuitive and analytical thinking. What does this mean in the setting of the construction industry?

While we’ll avoid making sweeping generalizations, it’s safe to say that men and women likely bring different strengths to the table.

For example, consider our problem-solving abilities. The goal of any construction project is simple — to make something work. This is true whether we’re analyzing blueprints, crunching numbers, or working in the field.

In this setting, diversified thinking is a valuable asset. Women may introduce new ideas or suggest a different approach their male colleagues may not have considered. Rather than causing divisions, these different ways of thinking can unite a team and ultimately create a more successful workforce.

4. It’s All About the Skills

Construction has been called “the great equalizer” of professions. Age, gender, and race take a backseat to skills, knowledge, and competency. In other words, it all boils down to whether you can accomplish a task or not.

Women are just as capable as men of mastering construction skills. Some within the industry claim that women can be even more skilled than their male counterparts.

Consider welding as an example. According to the CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Michigan, women often outperform men during welding competitions. This is because men tend to follow the flame while women tend to follow a pattern.

What’s the takeaway? While other fields struggle to catch up, “equal opportunity” is already a reality in the construction industry.

5. Changes in Perception & Culture

Traditional gender roles have evolved dramatically in recent years. Although the construction industry is still male-dominated, women are slowly but surely making their mark.

One in 10 skilled craft workers is a woman, while women own 13% of construction firms. Meanwhile, nearly 8% of construction managers are women. We’ll also mention that 44% of the nation’s top contracting companies have women in executive roles.

The change might be happening slowly, but it is happening. This is evident from the support systems and organizations geared towards women in construction, such as the NAWIC or Power Up, Inc. There are also a host of scholarship options for women who pursue a career in construction.

How Can You Start Your Career in Construction?

So, what do you think? Could starting a career in construction be the right choice for you?

If so, you’ll need to do some research about the best ways to get started in your chosen field. Different states have different requirements for required training and certifications. You may be able to jump right into some fields and learn on the job, while others require a minimum amount of education first.

As we mentioned earlier, trade schools can give you the tools you need to get your foot in the door. For example, you could select an HVAC technician program to prepare you to work on heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems. This hybrid program blends online and in-person learning, allowing you to fit your education around your other responsibilities.

You could also consider an electrician training program that offers flexible options. Both certificate programs can be completed in less than a year, preparing you to get your certification and begin your new career in construction.

Two Construction Careers for Women: InterCoast Colleges Can Help 

As we’ve discussed, now is the perfect time for women to consider a career in construction. The construction industry needs more qualified men and women to keep up with the growing demand!

There are many different paths to starting a career in construction, and one of the best is to attend a trade school.

InterCoast Colleges offers two different options — our electrical technician training program and our HVAC technician training — to prepare you for an exciting new career. These courses are also ideal for anyone already working in the field to sharpen their skills and advance their careers.

For more information, give us a call anytime at 1-877-277-3377. You can also browse our full list of adult education and career certificate programs to find the one that’s best for you.

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