How to get a job in construction with no experience in 2023
2023 is your year to get that high paying construction job.
You can make this happen.
Just follow the steps below.
You know what is not for everybody? An office job.
Do you dread the idea of the “traditional” path to a career that most people take.?
If you are looking for freedom to work the way you want to work and make a lot of money doing it, keep reading.
Construction is hard work and so it is not for everybody either. But is also an industry where people go from entry level to CEO. You can go from newbie to business owner or from worker to boss.
Also, the industry is large and growing. Millions of people in the United States have decided construction is the right industry to build their career in.
There are lots of benefits too.
Make great money, avoid college debt, work outside, build a great life.
Now, assuming you are willing to put in the work, let’s talk about how to start a career in construction with no experience.
The goal of this article is help you find a construction job with no experience. There is even a chance you could find a job before the day is over. Here is how to do that.
What is the fastest way to get a construction job?
If you are looking to find a job in construction fast, these are the steps you will need to take:
- Search for entry level jobs right away. Better than any other research this will give you a great idea on what kids of entry level are out there. The search terms you’ll want to look for are usually laborer and helper. This will give you a good understanding of what the available jobs are, who the hiring companies are and where the jobs are located. Eventually, once you get more experience you'll be able to go after more skilled jobs like welding and electricians.
- Join Facebook groups that advertise construction jobs. There are lots of groups out there and construction companies have found Facebook be a good way to reach people looking for construction jobs. Sometimes groups will have many types of jobs and sometimes they’ll specialize on certain trades like electricians or riggers and operators.
- Create your resume. Yes, even if you do not have any construction experience, still create a resume. Company recruiters will want to look at this when they decide to offer you a job or not. There are lots of places to start building your resume. One way to start is to create a profile on job searching sites. The step-by-step process of registering does two things. First it puts you in a better position to apply for jobs. Second you can use the profile to build your resume.
- Ask people you know who are currently working in construction. Recommendations will always be a great way to find a job. Talk to people you know that are currently working. Or if you do not know anybody, put a post on one of the Facebook groups from earlier asking for recommendations. You will be surprised how helpful people can be.
- Apply for jobs. With a solid resume – even one without construction experience – you can find work. Apply and follow up with the companies that you apply to. You can apply through construction industry job boards as well as sites for specific construction companies.
- Be a great employee. This is the most important part. Once you get a job your number one job is work safely. Your number two job is to learn. As an entry level employee nobody expects you to have all (or any!) of the answers. Still, you can separate yourself from your peers by a willingness to reliably show up on time, give a good effort, listen to instruction, and ask questions when something doesn’t make sense.
Following those steps may have landed you job. If not, then do not give up. Keep looking and applying for jobs. Keep engaged in the online groups. Keep reaching out for help.
Another thing to consider when you are having trouble finding a job is improving your resume’s attractiveness to employers. You can make your resume stand out with just a few key improvements.
How do I improve my construction resume?
Here are ways to improve your construction resume.
- Take an OSHA 10-hour training course. You will quickly find out that workplace safety is a very important part of working in construction. The work can be dangerous, and employers want their employees to work safely. This is where OSHA comes into play. The entry level OSHA training certification is called the OSHA 10-hour program. This course provides approximately 10 hours of training. These classes can even be taken online. Once you have completed this course, update your resume! The cost for one of these classes is typically less than $100.
- Take a training or certification class. The most widely recognized training entity is called NCCER. There are lots of places that you can go to physically find and take NCCER courses. Some locations offer NCCER online training as well. Check with your local training center for more information. The costs of these classes can vary but depending on the duration and content can cost several hundred or even several thousand dollars. The good news is that scholarships are available to help pay for some or all of these costs.
- Apply for a TWIC card. This is another credential that is required on some construction sites. Typically industrial facilities that are accessible by water require a TWIC card to gain entry to the site. This is a TSA-issued credential which requires a background check, fingerprints and an in-person interview. You can apply online for a TWIC card to get the process started. The TWIC card costs $125.25.
How many open jobs are available in the construction industry?
Typically, there are 300,000 (or so) construction job openings each month. These jobs pay, on average, $30 per hour. That is a lot of high paying jobs that are waiting for the right people to step in and take them.
After factoring in overtime pay, these jobs can pay in the six figures each year. In fact, you may be able to make six figures in a year before your college bound friends ever walk up on stage to get their diplomas. It’s not uncommon for people with a just a few years of experience to make a six-figure income. That takes a lot of hours and hard work, but that outcome is available to you right now.
Before we go any further in explaining this, let’s go back and take a look at the current job openings for entry level people in construction. This is a search for laborer positions, which is a good place to start looking for entry level jobs.
As you scroll through the jobs, you will see jobs all over the country, working for different companies and doing some different tasks. Maybe you even see something that looks interesting to you – by all means, apply now!
In general, laborer and other entry level jobs will pay in the $17 - $22 per hour range.
The people making six figures are probably going to have a pay rate in the $30 per hour range. That is not a rule written in stone since your total earnings will be driven by the numbers of hours per week, the number of weeks per year and the per diem you’re paid.
Still, getting your pay rate to $30 per hour should be your goal.
Your first job will most likely not be in that range and that is ok. Even the people making $250,000 and up in construction typically started at an entry level rate and earned their way to higher pay rates.
What should I look for in a construction job description?
Let’s break down what you should be looking for in reviewing a job description.
- Pay rate: what is the job paying? Sometimes companies will list the pay rates, sometimes they will not. Sometimes you will see the term “DOE” which mean “depends on experience” – essentially more experienced people will get higher pay rates.
- Per Diem: is the job paying per diem? Per diem is money that is intended to cover your living expenses while working out of town. Typically, if you must travel in the 50 or 60 miles one way to a project, you will be considered eligible for per diem. Since this money is considered a reimbursement for your expenses, it is not taxed. The government gives guidelines on what the maximum per diem amounts for a geographic location. Any per diem paid below the government set amount is not taxed.
- Project location: are you willing to travel or are you looking to work near a specific location? You can typically refine your search based on location.
- Project duration: Construction projects can be long, they can be short, they can be anything in between. Be sure you know what you are signing up for. If you are going to travel halfway across the country, you want to make sure that the job is not a two-day job. If this is not clearly stated in the job description, you should ask this question from the recruiter before accepting a position.
- Work schedule: You will make good money on overtime so you should find out how many hours per week the project is working. You may consider a lower paying job that is working more hours per week since the paycheck at the end of the week will be higher.
Construction projects start and end all the time. Every day of the week some projects are ending, others are starting and there are always jobs available.
Companies are looking for new people every day so be ready to look for jobs on a routine basis. Setting up job alerts can be a great way to get new jobs delivered to your inbox. You can even set up text message job alerts for instant notifications.
What should I focus on in my first construction jobs?
Your goal in the first few years of working construction projects should be:
- Gain experience. Having more roles and projects on your resume will help you find the next job. Each project is a piece to the puzzle for building your career.
- Learn from those around you. Ask questions, watch how other people work, have the mindset that you’re going to learn every day. The people who have been working for many years have lots to offer and can be some of the best teachers you will ever have.
- Build connections with other people in the industry. Like many industries, who you know, can be very powerful. Take time to get to know people. Always do good work and be reliable and this will also help you stand out to your supervisors.
- Show that you are a reliable worker. Show up on time. Don’t miss work days. Follow the rules of the site. Stay out of trouble. These are the small that you control each day that can help you make a name for yourself.
The goal early on is not all about finding the highest paid job. Making the high dollar wages comes with time buy only after you have shown that you are able and willing to do the work that it takes.
What are the basics of the construction industry?
Now that you have spent some time looking at jobs and building a resume, here is some basic information about the industry to help you start to think about where you may want to take your career.
Construction is a big industry. Over $1 Trillion is spent each year on construction projects. That number is growing every year, and as that amount of construction grows so does the need for people who work in the industry.
This long-term trend of job growth is a great indicator for the future of the industry.
Construction spending is outpacing the new people coming into the industry. Basic economics teaches that when demand (construction spending) outpaces supply (available labor) prices will have to rise (salaries and wages).
This is a great time to be getting into the industry as wages will continue to rise over time.
Like any large industry, construction is made up of many different companies, projects, and jobs. Picking the right fit in the large industry can be very helpful in making your career a success.
From a laborer working on building a highway, to a framer building houses, to a welder working on a pipeline - the options are almost endless. To understand the jobs you’ll be interested in, it helps to understand how the industry breaks down at a high level.
Let’s start with the basics. The construction industry breaks down into three (3) primary categories:
- Residential Construction. Building individual and multi-family homes.
- Commercial Construction. Building structures where business is conducted, stores, malls, restaurants, hotels, medical centers, and office buildings.
- Industrial Construction. Building refineries, factories, wind turbine farms, manufacturing facilities, solar fields, pipelines, water treatment facilities, and sporting facilities. We wrote a guide on industrial construction and the benefits of the industry that you should consider.
What is the highest paying sector of the construction industry?
In general, the pay rate is lowest in residential construction, followed by commercial construction.
Industrial construction, on average, pays the highest wages. You will often see in job ads that the hiring company will list residential, commercial, or industrial in the job description to help indicate the type of work being done. This can be a good way to help understand which jobs will be higher paying than others.
One way to put yourself on a path to higher wages is to look for industrial jobs. If high pay is your desire, find the companies hiring for industrial construction jobs. The thing to consider with industrial construction jobs is that they typically require travel. So, if you are looking to stay local to a particular town, you will want to consider commercial or residential contractors.
Are construction jobs full time jobs?
The answer is “it depends” and you will need to pay attention to the job ad to figure this out and possibly even talk directly to the employer. Some jobs will be full time where you will become a full-time employee of a company and work for that company exclusively. These jobs will usually come with the ability to take on health care benefits and other perks of being a full time employee. You will sometimes sacrifice on pay rates to get a full time job.
How do I maximize my construction wages?
Here are some things you can do to maximize your earnings in construction.
- Pursue a high paying trade. Early on in your career this can be difficult but as you gain experience and get training you can start making progress toward these high paying trades. There are lots of trads that you can pursue with some of the higher paying being welder, instrumentation technician, electrician, heavy equipment operator and power line worker.
- Be willing to travel for projects. Projects that require you to travel will typically pay per diem. As explained earlier in this guide, since that money is considered a reimbursement for reasonable expenses, it is not taxed. Savvy travelers can usually find ways to keep actual expenses below the per diem amount (by finding roommates, eating on a budget, staying in an RV / camper etc.) which allows some of the per diem money to effectively become additional earning. For people willing to travel the other opportunity for big money that comes up is international projects. There are times when projects overseas are looking for help and those can be opportunities for very high pay rates and per diems as well as much lower taxes depending on the duration of the project.
- Be willing to work for multiple companies. The tradeoff of working full time for a company versus working job to job is money vs. consistency. If you are a person that craves consistency, then finding full time employment makes sense. If on the other hand you are willing to work project to project (meaning, you’ll get laid off when the project ends and need to look for the next job) then you will be in a position to pursue higher hourly rates.
- Extend your working year. The more hours you work in a year the more you will earn. It is that simple. Instead of taking time off between projects find the next job and get to work? Every week of the year represents 2% of the available working weeks. So think of every week off as a 2% decrease in your total pay.
We hope these ideas and tips help you out. We’re always here to help, just send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org any time.