Construction and Skilled Trade Careers

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Search Colleges
TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.

Construction careers attract ambitious, energetic people. The construction industry often relies on teamwork. People interested in a construction career have numerous trades and occupations to choose from. The construction industry also includes management jobs.

Skilled construction workers help build office buildings, homes, schools, roads, bridges, factories and other structures. The main construction sectors include new home building and renovation, heavy industrial construction, institutional and commercial construction and civil engineering construction.

Many of the construction careers require unique skills obtained through training. Math and reading skills are important factors for some construction careers.

Most union apprenticeship programs require a high school diploma or a GED. Some union apprenticeship programs use aptitude or other types of tests as well as interviews to choose applicants.

Construction companies include general contractors, design-builders, construction managers, trade contractors and building companies which create buildings they plan to sell.

The construction and extraction career category offers pertinent, reliable information about numerous careers. TheBestSchools provides detailed information about construction careers such as employment outlook, salary, training, a matching online degree and much more. We help you find the construction career right for you.

After you've read this page on Construction and Skilled Trade Careers we encourage you to look over our extensive career guide with information on job options, education requirements and salaries.

Related articles:
The 50 Best Online Colleges & Universities 2019
The Best Online Colleges by State
The Best Online Degrees

Boilermakers

Education and Certifications Boilermakers Need

Boilermakers generally begin their career with a high school diploma (or equivalent) and a formal four to five year apprenticeship program. Having previous welding experience and certifications helps to increase the chances of getting accepted into a boilermaker apprenticeship program.

Boilermakers are generally required to have a welder's certification.

What They Do

A boilermaker career attracts mechanically inclined individuals comfortable working in a variety of settings and conditions. Boilers are made of steel, iron, copper, or stainless steel and generate electric power and heat through heating water. Boilermakers work on boilers, tanks, and vats used in a variety buildings, ships and factories.

A boilermaker career includes installing new boilers and reading blueprints in order to locate already existing boilers to perform maintenance work on them. When building new boilers, boilermakers may use robotic or automatic welders. Boilermakers must also test and inspect their assembled boiler for existing or potential leaks or defects.

When cleaning vats, boilermakers use tools such as scarpers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents. Typical boiler parts needing maintenance or repair include valves, pipes, or joints. When fixing these parts, boilermakers may use hand or power tools, gas torches, plumb bobs, levels, wedges, and turnbuckles and other welding equipment.

Boilermakers repair air pollution equipment and blasting furnaces and perform repair work at water treatment plants, they also work on storage and process tanks, repair smokestacks, install refractory brick and other heat-resistant materials in fireboxes or pressure vessels and install large pipes used in dams.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $62,260
2016 number of jobs 17,200
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 9%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $38,700
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $87,160

 

Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons

Education and Certifications Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons Need

A brickmason career or blockmason career usually begins through a formal 3-4 year apprenticeship. Contractor associations and unions often sponsor mason apprenticeships. Brickmasons, blockmasons and stonemasons may also begin their career with a one-year program at a technical college.

Brickmasons, blockmasons and stonemasons don't need specific licenses or certifications.

What They Do

If you've ever driven by a brick or stone exterior home or building and commented on it's beauty or uniqueness, you have complimented the work of a brickmason, blockmason, or stonemason. Masons, as they are also sometimes called for short, build fences, walkways, walls, buildings, and other structures out of brick, stone, and concrete blocks.

Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons must be able to read blueprints and drawings in order to accurately determine and order materials needed for a project. Mason careers include regularly use straightedges, trowels, plumb bobs, levels, and other various hand tools. They also mix mortar or grout for spreading onto a project's foundation. Precision and straight lines are vital in a brickmason's, blockmason's, and stonemason's job. They polish a finished project using power tools or hand tools.

Brickmasons and blockmasons – also called bricklayers – build or repair on things such as walls, floors, partitions, fireplaces, chimneys.

Stonemasons focus on stone walls, building exteriors, and floors. A stonemason career includes working with natural-cut stones and artificial stones. Some stonemasons also specialize in setting marble.

Other masons include: pointing, cleaning, and calking workers, who repair brickwork, and refractory masons, who install firebrick and refractory tile in high-temperature machines.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $42,900
2016 number of jobs 34,200
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 12%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $27,750
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $76,020

 

Carpenter

Education and Certifications Carpenter Need

A carpenter career generally begins with a three to four year apprenticeship. Contractor associations and unions often sponsor the apprenticeship programs.

Carpenters may also receive training through a two-year technical school offering a carpentry degree. These degrees are affiliated with unions and contractor organizations.

Carpenters are not required to obtain any specific license or certification to practice their trade.

What They Do

Anyone living in a home or working in a building owes the quality of the building's structure to carpenters. Carpenters build and repair the framework, structures, and fixtures of various types of buildings made of wood and other materials. They build things such as stairs, doorframes, partitions, rafters, and install items such as kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.

Carpenters do everything from meeting with clients and interpreting blueprints to labor-intensive work such as constructing and putting up the framework for buildings. They may use large pulleys and cranes to assist in setting up framework.

Carpenter careers include measuring, cutting and shaping wood and other materials. Carpenter careers also include installing fixtures such as windows and molding.

A carpenter career includes using a variety of tools from small hand tools like squares, levels, hammers, and chisels, to power tools such as sanders, circular saws, and nail guns.

Carpenters may also play a supervisory role, instructing other workers and closely inspecting framework for damaged or misaligned sections.

The primarily types of carpenters include: residential carpenters, commercial carpenters, and Industrial carpenters.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Carpenters' extremely diverse daily workload increases their chances of advancing in their career to a general construction supervisor position. Some carpenters become an independent contractor.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $45,170
2016 number of jobs 1,025,600
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 8%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $27,790
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $80,350

 

Carpet Installers

Education and Certifications Carpet Installers Need

A carpet installer career begins with on-the-job training from a more experienced carpet installer. There are no formal education requirements for carpet installers.

Carpet installers don't need specific licenses or certifications.

What They Do

It only takes one time of trying to install carpet in order to for a person to fully appreciate a professional carpet installer. Carpet installers lay carpet in a variety of buildings, including offices, restaurants, and homes.

Carpet installers must understand how to properly remove various types of old flooring and properly prepare surfaces for new carpet. Preparation prior to laying carpet includes closely inspecting the bare floor surface and correcting any issues that may show through installed carpet. A carpet installer career includes accurately measuring areas intended for carpeting.

The carpet installation process includes installing padding beneath the carpet, rolling out the carpet, fitting the sides of the carpet snuggly against walls, attaching carpet to the ground with staples, glue, or tacks, and blending any carpet seams. Carpet installer careers include using tools such as knee kickers, staples, knives, carpet shears, hammers, and power sanders.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $40,250
2016 number of jobs 122,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 10%
Entry-level education requirements No formal educational credential
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $23,590
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $3,990

 

Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers

Education and Certifications Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers Need

A cement mason career and a terrazzo worker career generally begin with on-the-job training, shadowing a more experienced worker. Another option for cement masons and terrazzo workers is a three-year apprenticeship, usually sponsored by a union or contractor association.

Cement masons and terrazzo workers don't need specific licenses or certifications.

What They Do

Cement masons do important and necessary foundational work, whereas terrazzo workers make it beautiful and attractive. Cement masons pour, smooth, and finish concrete floors, sidewalks, roads, and curbs. Terrazzo workers use a cement mixture to create decorative floor and stairway surfaces.

Cement mason careers involve installing reinforcing rebar or mesh wire into concrete for strength. Cement masons set forms which hold concrete in place, and direct cement trucks where to pour, then proceed to spread, level, and smooth concrete for a flat finish. Cement mason careers involve using tools such as a trowel, float, or screed.

While monitoring the drying of the cement, cement masons must consider the temperature, wind, and other elements which may affect the cement drying perfectly flat. Once the concrete has been poured and dried, cement masons apply sealants to waterproof and protect the surface.

Terrazzo workers do much of the same work as cement masons; they also blend in a marble chip mixture and then grind and polish surfaces for a more attractive look. Terrazzo workers specialize in creating decorative walkways, floors patios, and panels.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $42,900
2016 number of jobs 292,500
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 12%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $27,750
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $76,020

 

Construction and Building Inspectors

Education and Certifications Construction and Building Inspectors Need

A construction inspector career or building inspector career requires at least a high school diploma and knowledge of construction trades. Construction inspectors and building inspectors receive on-the-job training, however they learn building codes and standards on their own.

Employers also seek construction inspectors or building inspectors with a certificate or associate degree which includes classes in building or home inspection, construction technology, and drafting.

Increasingly, construction inspectors and building inspectors begin their career with a bachelor's degree.

In most jurisdictions construction inspectors and building inspectors need a license or certificate. Some states offer individual licensing programs for construction inspectors and building inspectors, other states require certification from associations such as the International Code Council, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, International Association of Electrical Inspectors, or the National Fire Protection Association.

What They Do

We have the luxury of not having to worry whether every building we enter properly adheres to building codes, because construction inspectors and building inspectors have already done this for us. Construction inspector careers and building inspector careers include making sure all new construction, changes to buildings, or repairs are in compliance with local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

Construction inspectors and building inspectors often visit construction sites for buildings, highways and streets, sewer and water systems, dams, bridges, and other structures. A construction inspector career and a building inspector career include monitoring construction projects from start to finish, ensuring they comply with all applicable codes, ordinances, and regulations. A construction inspector career and a building inspector career also include conducting inspections using survey instruments such as metering devices and test equipment.

If a violation is determined, construction inspectors and building inspectors must issue a violation notice and stop-work order until the problem is corrected. Construction inspectors and building inspectors maintain daily logs and photographs of their observances and any tests performed.

Some specific types of inspectors are: Electrical inspectors, elevator inspectors, mechanical inspectors, plan examiners, plumbing inspectors, public works inspectors, and specification inspectors.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $59,090
2016 number of jobs 105,100
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 10%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $35,220
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $95,340

 

Construction Equipment Operators

Education and Certifications Construction Equipment Operators Need

Many construction equipment operators begin their career with on-the-job training, shadowing a more experienced worker and gradually entrusted with larger equipment. Other construction equipment operators go through a three to four year apprenticeship, usually sponsored by a union or contractor association. Some private vocational schools offer programs for construction equipment operators.

Construction equipment operators must obtain a commercial driver's license in order to move the large equipment to different jobsites. Rules surrounding commercial driver's licenses vary by state.

Piledriver operators are sometimes required to obtain crane operator certification.

What They Do

At some point, most kids idolized the men and women behind the controls of heavy duty contraction machines; as adults they can make their dream come true with a construction equipment operator career. Construction equipment operators drive and operate the large machinery used in the construction of roads, bridges, building, damns, airport runways, and other structures.

Construction equipment operators monitor equipment to ensure it runs properly and remains clean and well taken care of. Any issues with machines are reported to supervisors.

A construction equipment operator career includes working with other crew members, often communicating with hand or audio signals, as they may be far apart or the machines may be too loud to hear over. Activating the power equipment many includes using levers, pedals, and valves.

Operating engineer careers include controlling excavation and loading machines which scoop, shovel, and dig, such as a bulldozer, tractor, trench excavator, or road grader.

A paving and surfacing equipment operator career involves controlling machines which spread and level asphalt and concrete for roads. These equipment operators may also specialize, such as asphalt spreader operators, concrete paving machine operators, or tamping equipment operators.

A piledriver operator career includes using large machines to hammer piles into the ground. The piles generally support retaining walls, bridges, piers, or building foundations.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Construction equipment operators may advance in their career to a teaching position in a training facility or opt to start up their own contracting business.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $46,080
2016 number of jobs 426,600
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 12%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $29,710
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $81,640

 

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Education and Certifications Construction Laborers and Helpers Need

No formal education requirements exist for construction laborers and helpers, and most learn their trade through on-the-job training. Some individuals, however, opt to begin their construction laborer career through a formal apprenticeship program, which includes two to four years of technical instruction and on-the-job training.

Construction laborers and construction workers who handle hazardous materials need a federal hazmat license.

Construction laborers and helpers may need certifications, depending on the specific work they do. They may earn any of the following certifications: asbestos, energy auditor, lead, operators qualification for pipline, OSHA 10/or 30 hour construction safety certification, radiological worker, rough terrain forklift operation, scaffold user and builder, signalperson qualification, weatherization technician installer and supervisor, welder, work zone safety technician, flagger and supervisor.

What They Do

Construction sites are extremely busy areas with a great deal of prep work and clean up needed; construction laborers and construction helpers perform this physically demanding work.

Construction laborers and construction helpers remove any debris and potential hazards and unload and prepare tools and other supplies. Part of the preparation involves building or disassembling things such as bracing, barricades, forms, scaffolding, and temporary structures. Construction helpers may also dig trenches or fill holes. A construction helper may use tools ranging from a simple broom to a jackhammer, explosives, or laser beam equipment.

Construction laborers and construction helpers offer assistance to multiple craftworkers. Craftworkers who generally have helpers include: brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, carpenters, electricians, painters, pipelayers, plumbers and roofers.

Most construction laborers are generalist, but they may also specialize in one or many of the following areas: building homes and facilities, tearing down buildings, removing hazardous materials, building highways and roads, or digging tunnels and mine shafts. Some construction laborers become certified to remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Advancement becomes more likely for construction laborers and helpers who earn certifications in different areas requiring specialized knowledge. Construction laborers and helpers may also advance to construction craft occupations.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $33,450
2016 number of jobs 1,449,400
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 12%
Entry-level education requirements On-the-job training
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $21,930
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $60,860

 

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers and Tapers

Education and Certifications Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers and Tapers Need

A drywall installer career or ceiling tile installer career does not require formal education; rather, these careers generally begin with on-the-job training. Less commonly, drywall installers and ceiling tile installers begin their career with a three to four year formal apprenticeship.

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers and tapers don't need specific licenses or certifications.

What They Do

Most of us take the walls and ceiling around us for granted, but their construction and insulation is due to skilled drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers. Drywall installers and ceiling tile installers hang wallboards to walls and ceilings and will often do the taping for their own projects.

Drywall installer careers include reading design plans and determining how to cut the wallboard in order to minimize waste. They must accurately measure around electrical outlets, plumbing, windows, and vents. After the drywall has been fastened to the wall studs, drywall installers must trim and smooth all rough edges, ensuring the boards join evenly. Drywall installers use tools such as utility knives, power saws, hammers, and screwdrivers.

Ceiling tile installer careers include reading blueprints and preparing measurement accordingly. They attach tiles or sheets of shock absorbing materials on ceilings using cement adhesive, nails, or screws.

Tapers prepare surfaces for drywall installers or ceiling tile installers by patching nail holes and applying tape to cover wallboard joints. Tapers may also apply sealing compound to cover joints or create a more even surface.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $43,970
2016 number of jobs 143,200
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 1%
Entry-level education requirements No formal educational credential
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $29,270
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $2,130

 

Electricians

Education and Certifications Electricians Need

An electrician career generally begins with a four-year apprenticeship. Completion of the apprenticeship program qualified individuals for both construction and maintenance work.

Some electricians attend a technical school with programs related to safety and basic electrical information. Credits earned here often go toward the individual's four-year apprenticeship.

Sometimes electricians need to take continuing education courses, usually related to safety practices, changes to the electrical code, and training on specific products from a manufacturer.

In most states electricians need a license; requirements for licensure vary by state.

What They Do

Dealing with wiring within your home can be confusing and incredibly intimidating; it is a job best left to a professional electrician. Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and other buildings.

Electricians interpret blueprints and technical diagrams in order to determine where electrical wires already exist or where they can add them. Electricians install wiring and lighting systems or inspect and maintain existing systems. When inspecting or installing electrical work, electricians must adhere to state and local building regulations based on National Electric Code.

When electricians work on older electrical systems, they sometimes replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

An electrician career includes using a variety of tools, ranging from hand tools to power tools and testing devices used in identifying electrical problems. Common electrician's tools include: pipe benders, screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, saws, ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters.

Occupational specialties for electricians include inside electricians and residential electricians.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $54,110
2016 number of jobs 666,900
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 9%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $32,180
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $92,690

 

Elevator Installers and Repairers

Education and Certifications Elevator Installers and Repairers Need

An elevator installer career or elevator repairer career begins with a four-year apprenticeship, usually sponsored by a union or individual contractor.

In some states elevator installers and repairers need a license.

Certification is not required for elevator installers and repairers, but certification helps with job competition and to show specific skills and expertise. Elevator installers and repairers can become certified as a Certified Elevator Technician or Certified Accessibility and Private Residence Lift Technician through the National Association of Elevator Contractors.

What They Do

No one wants to get stuck in an elevator, so elevator installers and elevator repairers work hard to ensure this modern convenience continues running smoothly. Elevator installers and repairers also work on escalators, moving walkways, chairlifts, and other lifts.

Elevator installers and repairers careers include reading blueprints in order to determine the type of equipment needed for installation or repair of elevators, elevator doors, steel frames and cables, motors, or control systems.

When an elevator breaks down, an elevator installer or elevator repairer must determine the issue; they use test equipment such as voltmeters. An elevator repairer career includes performing preventative maintenance, such as oiling and greasing parts, replacing worn parts, and making adjustments.

An elevator installer career includes ensuring new elevators comply with safety regulations and building codes.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Elevator installers and repairers may advance in their career through acquiring certification and taking continuing education courses. Possible positions for promotions include mechanic-in-charge, adjuster, supervisor, or elevator inspector.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $76,650
2016 number of jobs 19,700
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 11 percent
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $90,900
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $59,800

 

Glaziers

Education and Certifications Glaziers Need

People interested in a glazier career typically only need a high school diploma or equivalent and on-the-job training, called an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships generally last for 3 years and include 144 hours of related training and about 2000 hours of paid on-site training.

During an apprenticeship, glaziers learn the tools of the occupation, how to measure, cut and install glass, cut moldings, read schematics and understand basic mathematics, construction and safety.

Licensure is only necessary in the state of Connecticut. The National Glass Association offers certifications.

What They Do

Ever marvel at the number of windows installed in a high-rise building and wonder, “who installs those?” The correct answer is glaziers. Glaziers install and replace glass in almost any environment from homes, skyscrapers and display cases to special surfaces like ceilings and storefronts.

A glazier career includes reviewing schematics and blueprints for the specific color or type of glass to install, measuring and cutting glass to fit an area and removing any broken glass before installation. A glazier career also involves creating moldings for glass installation using steel framing, securing glass panes into frames with points or other fasteners and adding putty to seal joints and laminating glass to improve safety and durability when needed.

Glaziers work in all kinds of settings from homes, businesses and small offices to commercial buildings and construction sites. In homes and businesses workers replace and install items such as shower doors, windows and mirrors by hand.

On big jobs, commercial glaziers precut, mount and secure glass using cranes or other large moving equipment. A glazier's work can take them to many locations from routine installation areas in homes and buildings to complex, dangerous jobs working on multilevel high-rise buildings and enormous skyscrapers. Overall, this work demands precision, skill and physical prowess.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $42,580
2016 number of jobs 42,350
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 11%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $26,840
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $79,090

 

Oil and Gas Workers

Education and Certifications Oil and Gas Workers Need

Typically, oil and gas workers only need to be in good physical shape and can have less than a high school diploma to enter the field. However, some employers may prefer for some workers to have vocational training in areas such as welding and basic mechanics. Workers operating most oil and gas machines need a tremendous amount of job training. Formal training is increasingly important as equipment and methods continually advance in complexity and technology.

What They Do

If an occupation that includes excellent hand-eye coordination, an abundance of physical strength, working outdoors (and sometimes in very harsh climates) and great attention to detail sounds interesting, then an oil and gas careers may be in the future. Oil and gas workers carry out the drilling plans created by petroleum engineers.

Drilling workers and service workers carry out two main jobs within this field. A drilling worker career includes operating equipment used to drill the well through soil and rock formation as well as preparing the well for use. A service worker career includes prepping the well and assembling the equipment that removes the oil or gas from the well.

Oil and gas workers are comprised of different operators including derricks, roustabouts, service unit operators and rotary drill operators. A typical day for a derrick operator includes inspecting derricks before they are moved up or down, ensuring drilling fluid flows correctly, fixing any drilling fluid system pumps and problems, training and supervising crew staff and guiding pipe in and out of elevators.

Roustabouts have demanding responsibilities such as keeping the work area and equipment clean, safe and free of debris, locating leaks with special electronic detectors, moving pipes to and from trucks either by hand or with motorized lifts and taking apart and repairing oil field parts and machinery.

Service unit operator careers include maintaining wells, observing gauges and pressure indicators for variations, checking equipment for issues such as faulty operations, guiding cables through derrick pulleys, using pumps to circulate fluids through wells to get rid of any objects obstructing the oil flow and manipulating controls that lift derricks.

A rotary drill operator career includes managing the maintenance of the drill rig and carrying out the well plan, training crewmembers on safety procedures and checking pressure gauges and operating levers. A rotary drill operator career also includes keeping records of operations performed, equipment used and footage drilled and managing pump operations to ensure proper circulation of drilling fluids.

Career Advancement Opportunities

All operators in the oil and gas industry have opportunities for career advancement. As each worker gains more training, skills and actual work experience, they have the chance of moving to higher paying positions.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $52,260
2016 number of jobs 1,200
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 N/A
Entry-level education requirements N/A
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $30,570
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $79,110

 

Painters

Education and Certifications Painters Need

People interested in a painter career typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and they need to complete their training.

Painter unions sponsor apprenticeship programs where workers learn skills within 3 to 4 years. For each program year, apprentices must complete 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid onsite training. Painting skills taught range from preparing surfaces and mixing paints to application techniques.

Painters interested in industrial painting can earn different certifications, such as the Protective Coating Specialist certification, from the National Association of Corrosion Engineers. Certificate program lengths range from a day to several weeks, depending on the specialty.

What They Do

Painters paint a variety of objects from equipment, walls and buildings to bridges and other large structures. They use different types of tools and equipment from rollers, brushes and spray guns to ladders, scaffoldings and harnesses.

A painter career includes removing old paint through sanding or wire brushing to prepare surfaces for new paint, protecting floors and furniture with drop-cloths, setting up ladders or scaffolding and filling cracks or holes in walls with putty or similar fillers.

A painting career includes mixing colors to achieve desired color or thickness, applying sealers and using tools such as brushes, rollers or power sprayers to paint areas.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $37,960
2016 number of jobs 381,500
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 6%
Entry-level education requirements No formal educational credential
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $25,200
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $63,620

 

Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters

Education and Certifications Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters Need

Typically people interested in a plumber, pipefitter or steamfitter career need a high school diploma or equivalent, pass basic math, and train as an apprentice.

Businesses and unions usually offer apprenticeships which can take 4 to 5 years to complete. For each year apprentices receive training, they must earn at least 1700 to 2000 hours of paid onsite training and a minimum of 246 hours of technical instruction. They receive education about blueprints, safety, plumbing codes, applied physics, chemistry and math. After they complete their training they can work independently as a journey worker.

In most states plumbers need a license. In addition, in some localities pipefitters need a license.

What They Do

Homes, businesses and factories need good plumbing; plumbers help keep offices, buildings and residences sanitary. Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters maintain, assemble and repair drainage systems, pipes and pipe systems which carry water, gas, air, or other liquids to and in residential homes, businesses and factories.

Plumber, pipefitter, and steamfitter careers include maintaining and installing pipe systems and fixtures, reading blueprints and following building codes, assessing materials and equipment needed. Plumber, pipefitter, and steamfitter careers also include testing pipelines and systems, replacing old or damaged parts and repairing pipes and pipe systems when needed.

Plumber, pipefitter and steamfitter skills and job duties tend to overlap; however, they are each specialized in different areas. For example, pipefitters commonly maintain manufacturing or industrial pipes which carry gases, acids and different chemicals, whereas steamfitters specialize in piping systems that carry steam under high pressure. Master plumbers work in settings such as construction sites where they develop blueprints which demonstrate where all the necessary pipes and fixtures will be located.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $52,590
2016 number of jobs 480,600
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 16%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $31,470
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $91,810

 

Roofers

Education and Certifications Roofers Need

People interested in a roofer career typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and intensive training. Experienced roofers, contractors and unions offer apprenticeships that can take up to three years to complete. For each year an apprentice is in training, they must earn at least 144 hours of technical training and 2000 hours of on-site instruction.

Education includes learning to how to use machines, tools and equipment, reading blueprints, following safety requirements, as well as learning math and construction basics. After roofers complete their training they can work independently as a journey worker.

What They Do

A roofer career is not for the faint of heart. People interested in a roofer career need physical strength, an indifference to heights, skill and the ability to endure all weather conditions. Commercial roofers spends their days diligently repairing and installing roofs of homes, offices and other buildings using different materials such as shingles, metal, tile and asphalt.

Roofer careers include assessing roof damage and determining the most effective ways to fix it, replacing worn materials such as plywood and installing insulation layers as well as shingles or other materials to ensure the roof is watertight. Roofer careers also include cutting and aligning roofing materials to fit angles formed by vents or walls and covering screw heads to prevent leakage.

Roofers typically install low-slope and steep-slope roofs. Low-slope roofs are the most common roofs for industrial, commercial and apartment complexes. Most single-family homes have a steep-slope roof.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $38,970
2016 number of jobs 146,200
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 11%
Entry-level education requirements No formal educational credential
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $25,590
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $64,860

 

Sheet Metal Workers

Education and Certifications Sheet Metal Workers Need

People interested in a sheet metal career typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and either formal or informal apprenticeships through technical colleges, businesses or unions.

Apprenticeships can take up to 5 years to complete and for each year in training workers must earn a minimum of 246 hours of technical training and at least 1,700 to 2,000 hours of paid, on-site instruction.

Education includes learning how to use machines, tools and equipment, reading blueprints, following safety requirements, as well as learning math and construction basics.

Once they complete their training they can perform tasks independently as a journey worker. Programs such as the Sheet Metal Institute provide Certification for sheet metal workers.

What They Do

Sheet metal workers install, assemble and repair products made from thin metal sheets, such as drain pipes or ducts used for ventilating, heating and air-conditioning. They work in many different specialty areas such as welding, metal roofing and siding, rain protection systems and kitchen equipment.

A sheet metal worker career includes choosing and measuring specific metal or nonmetal materials, drilling holes, anchoring parts and installing metal sheets with supportive frameworks and securing joints and other parts through using techniques such as welding or riveting.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $47,990
2016 number of jobs 138,900
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 9%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $27,330
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $87,120

 

Structural Iron and Steel Workers

Education and Certifications Structural Iron and Steel Workers Need

Typically, structural iron and steel workers need a high school diploma or equivalent and either formal or informal apprenticeships through technical colleges, businesses or unions to enter the field.

Apprenticeships can take up to 4 years to complete; for each year in training workers must earn a minimum of 144 hours of technical training and at least 2,000 hours of paid, on-site instruction.

Ironworker education includes learning how to use tools and equipment, how to reinforce and install metal frameworks as well as how to cut and install rebar, how to read blueprints and follow safety requirements. Ironworker education also includes math and construction basics. Once this training is complete, steel workers can perform tasks independently as a journey worker.

American Welding Society for Certification provides certification for ironworkers seeking certification for welding skills.

What They Do

The job requirements of steel workers are physically demanding and highly dangerous. Not only do structural iron and steel workers need the training necessary to install steel beams and columns to form bridges, buildings, and other structures but they also require incredible balance, stamina and the ability to deal with the ever increasing heights of today's buildings and skyscrapers.

An iron worker career includes unloading materials and lifting heavy girders, steel beams and columns with cranes, working with crane operators to make sure the steel materials are correctly positioned, aligning and confirming all beams and girders are in correct horizontal or vertical positions and connecting columns and beams through bolts and welding and manipulating. An iron worker career also includes cutting the steel with tools such as torches and shears.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $51,320
2016 number of jobs 90,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 13%
Entry-level education requirements High school diploma or equivalent
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $31,260
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $93,070

 

Tile and Marble Setters

Education and Certifications Tile and Marble Setters Need

Typically, most tile and marble setters need a high school diploma and either formal or informal apprenticeships through technical trainings, businesses or unions to enter a marble setter career.

Apprenticeships can take up to 4 years to complete; for each year in training workers must earn a minimum of 144 hours of technical training and at least 2,000 hours of paid, on-site instruction.

Tile and marble setter education includes learning how to use tools and read blueprints, follow building code requirements and safety practices, as well as math and construction basics. Once this training is complete, tile and marble setters can perform tasks independently as a journey worker.

What They Do

If working with different forms of tile and marble in a highly detailed and physically demanding position sounds interesting, then a career as a marble setter may be in the future. From roofs to decks and ceilings to countertops, tile and marble setters use different tools and equipment to install marble, hard tile and wood tile to many surfaces.

A tile setter career includes cleaning and leveling surfaces, measuring, cutting and arranging tile according to specific design schematics, applying sticky paste with different sized trowels, wiping off any extra paste to apply sealants and finally, allowing work to dry.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $40,250
2016 number of jobs 122,300
Employment growth forecast, 2016 - 26 10%
Entry-level education requirements Less than high school
2017, wage of lowest 10 percent $23,590
2017, wage of the highest 10 percent $73,990

* Salary, number of jobs and employment growth provided by
bls

Take the next step towards your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

Woman working at desk