6 Tips for a Successful Career in Construction

Portrait of an worker with a successful career in construction

A career in construction has many benefits, including a great paying career and an exciting work environment where you’re not stuck behind a desk all day. A successful career is never built overnight.

Here are six different tips to help start your construction career and continue to build a successful career for years to come.

Be patient

Being patient is especially important during the start of your career in construction. A construction career will take years to get started. Don’t rush the process. You have years to enjoy your job and earn more money. Take the time to learn and hone your craft.

It’s also important to get the right certifications and do it the right way. The learning process can start at any time—whether you’re in high-school, or 20 years into a career and want a change. Being patient at the start of your career will set you up for long term success. One of the best places to start is with the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 10-hour or 30-hour Construction Safety Card. You can find an in-person or online training provider on OSHA’s website.

If you want a quick look at getting started with a career in construction before making a big commitment, check out this video

Be teachable

There is an endless amount of information to learn. Staying humble and teachable will set you up for success. Having the mindset that you can learn something from everyone, even if it’s learning what not to do.

We can learn from our mistakes, but it’s much faster to learn from other people and their mistakes. That will accelerate our learning, and we can skip levels that other people needed to take the time to walk through. Choose to learn something from everyone. Every time you work with someone, you can add a new tool to your tool belt, and the more you know the more opportunities you’ll have.

When you complete an apprenticeship, college degree, or technical school, you have a foundation but you’re never done learning. Continue to learn about your craft, watch YouTube videos, read books, subscribe to construction-related newsletters, listen to podcasts, whatever helps you learn. Learning doesn’t need to be boring, you can learn a new skill and put it into practice with a weekend project. There will always be new tools, techniques, and tips that you don’t know, and staying hungry to learn will help you stay ahead of the competition.

Find your craft

Construction is a broad field with many different specific fields. Generally, there are three fields in construction: building, infrastructure, and industrial. And each field contains a long list of specialties. You will find more success by not trying to do everything. Instead, find a specific focus that you’re talented at and you enjoy doing. This will help you find better jobs and earn more money.

At the start of your career, it’s essential to explore different options and try new things. Don’t be afraid to explore, especially at the beginning of your career. You will be more successful when you find what you’re passionate about and naturally good at.

Most people are less interested in hiring someone who says they can do it all. Most of the time, they can do everything, but not very well. Doing one thing with excellence will help your career advance much faster than doing ten things at an average level. The different fields can be intimidating. You can learn more about a variety of construction jobs and start figuring out what interests you here.

Own your mistakes

Taking responsibility when you make mistakes is no easy task, but it’s necessary. You’re guaranteed to make mistakes, big and small, throughout your career. And even though it feels like a kick to the face, the best thing to do is own up to it. Taking responsibility is the best and quickest way to fix whatever is messed up.

The last thing you want is for a small mistake to turn into a big problem. When you measure something wrong, break a tool, or misunderstand expectations, the faster you let the right people know the better. Hiding things from your supervisor, co-workers, and customers might save you from some embarrassment, but it won’t help your long-term career progression.

Build relationships

Even though you can do a lot on your own, there are benefits to connecting with others. Building relationships is essential in the construction field because you can’t do everything. Once you’ve found your craft, begin building relationships with people who have a different craft.

Relationships can lead to referrals and lifelong friendships with people who have similar interests. Your experience and certifications can open some doors, but most jobs will be a result of your relationships with other people.

In-person relationships should be your priority, but it’s also easy to develop connections online. Even when you’re not actively job-hunting, you can use LinkedIn to connect with other construction workers. Every relationship you build, in-person and online, is an opportunity to grow your career.

Set and track goals

Setting and tracking your goals is essential in any career. If you don’t set goals or track your progress, it will be nearly impossible to move up in life. We recommend setting goals every year and keeping track of them throughout the year. It’s easy to set goals in January, but most people set goals and then never look at them again. Make sure to take a look at your goals and progress every few months.

You should set goals for your income and job progress, and then keep track of how you’re progressing throughout the year. You can work hard every day, but you should have a clear destination that you can work toward.

Not sure where to start? Check out these resources to learn more and take the first steps towards a successful career.

OSHA Complete Course Catalog
NIOSH Construction Blog
Apprenticeship.gov Construction Apprenticeship Finder
Department of Labor Construction Resources
Associated General Contractors of America (AGC)
Contractor Magazine/eNewsletter
Construction Dive Blog

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