Being a construction worker is truly satisfying, because at the end of the project you have a tangible product you can admire for all your hard work. You get up early, you work long hours in less than ideal conditions, and you sweat a lot. But, even though many find it satisfying, the main reason we work is for money.
In a report published in December of 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analyzed the median pay of 19 different construction jobs that only require a high school diploma or equivalent, like a GED. Based on their findings, it appears that construction workers, overall are much better off than most industries, as the median pay for those in the construction industry in general was $41,380 in May of 2014 versus $35,540 for all other occupations. That equals a 16.4% yearly salary premium more than non-construction workers.
Let’s get to the top 10 list:
10. Solar Voltaic Installers
2014 median pay: $40,020
Job description: install solar panels on roofs or other structures. As solar panels begin to get stronger, lighter, and cheaper, we can expect this technology to become more popular.
2014 median pay: $40,820
Job description: generally, carpenters frame and finish structures, such as doorframes, stairways, rafters, among others.
8. Construction Equipment Operators
2014 median pay: $42,900
Job description: drive heavy construction equipment, such as loaders, dozers, and excavators. Construction equipment can be very dangerous to operate, so it’s important to be very well trained and stay aware of your surroundings.
7. Sheet Metal Workers
2014 median pay: $45,070
Job description: fabricate and/or install products made from thin metal sheets, such as HVAC duct work.
2014 median pay: $48,520
Job description: install structural steel and other reinforcing steel
5. Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
2014 median pay: $50,660
Job description: install the piping for waste, water, gas and vent lines.
2014 median pay: $51,110
Job description: install and repair electrical systems, including lighting, controls, communication wiring.
3. Construction and Building Inspectors
2014 median pay: $56,040
Job description: examine and verify that application building codes are being followed on specific construction job sites
2014 median pay: $59,860
Job description: install and repair boilers and other systems that hold liquids or gases.
1. Elevator Installers and Repairers
2014 median pay: $78,620
Job description: install and repair elevators. Far and away the highest paid of all construction trades.
The BLS also included 9 other construction jobs and their median salaries:
19. Construction Laborer and Helper: $30,190
18. Roofers: $35,760
17. Painters, Construction, and Maintenance: $35,950
16. Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters: $37,380
15. Insulation Workers: $37,790
14. Glaziers: $38,410
13. Hazardous Materials Removal Workers: $38,520
12. Masonry Workers: $38,720
11. Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers and Tapers: $38,97
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In 1984, Ronald Reagan was president, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, The Los Angeles Raiders won the Super Bowl, and Beverly Hills Cop was the biggest box office hit. Needless to say, a lot has changed since 1984, especially how many of our cities look. Google has recently released timelapse videos of 193 major cities across the world to show how much they have changed in the past 32 years.
San Francisco’s luxury high-rise condo tower has received plenty of bad news recently and the building and its developers are entwined in plenty of lawsuits. Since the Millennium Tower’s grand opening in 2009, the building has sunk around 16 inches and is even tilting several inches to the northwest. This news has residents worried that their home is valueless and has fingers being pointed every which way. Recently released satellite images show that the situation may not be getting better, either.
Last week, Japanese construction workers earned plenty of praise after they were able to repair a gigantic 90 foot by 88 foot by 50 foot sinkhole that formed in Fukuoka, Japan in the middle of a 5 lane road in under a week. A timelapse video of the repair can be watched by clicking here. This week, CNN reported that the road had to be closed again after it began to sink again.
If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters, obviously. But, If there’s a large animal stuck in the ground, who ya gonna call? Construction workers. Earlier this year, construction workers were able to rescue a small deer that had gotten stuck in some pretty deep mud with an excavator, but just recently construction crews were called in to rescue a much more terrifying animal: a gigantic bear.
It’s been a tumultuous year between several governmental agencies and businesses alike and, because of that, both sides have been repeatedly put into a state of limbo. Three new major rule changes have made headlines, especially in the construction industry, this year, including an injury and illness record keeping and reporting rule, a “blacklisting” rule, and an overtime pay rule.
Modular construction has been heralded by many as the next big thing in building structures quickly and cost effectively. By being able to construct parts of the building in a controlled environment, like a factory, workers can perform more efficiently, comfortably, and safely, ideally translating into shorter schedules and smaller costs. That theory got one of its biggest tests on a new 32-story residential building that recently opened in Brooklyn, NY.
[guest post] Joining the tech world from construction was a big change. The transition was made more smooth because I went to work at a company developing technology for construction so there were some other construction vets around me. But still- going from working at a homegrown, mid-sized, family-owned construction company in Utah to a tech startup based out of the heart of the tech scene in NYC was eye opening.
Last week, there was a giant hole in the middle of a Fukuoka, Japan street, spanning 98 feet long by 88 feet wide by 50 feet deep, due to underground subway work causing a sinkhole. Less than 7 days later, all the utility lines were repaired, the hole was filled, the asphalt laid, and the road is back open. It was a true testament to what a considerable amount of manpower and money can do in a short period of time.
Trench collapse deaths are easily preventable. I’ll say it again: trench collapse deaths are easily preventable. So if they’re preventable, how do they continue to happen every year? Ignorance to safety rules, lack of supervision, pressures of time and money, and sometimes, outright laziness are all factors in trench related deaths and injuries. I’ve been on too many jobsites in my relatively young construction career that have extremely poor procedures for working in trenches and I’ve gotten every excuse in the book. The vast majority don’t even understand the basic requirements. At 4 feet deep, you need to provide a means of egress, at 5 feet deep you need proper protective systems, and keep soil and other materials 2 feet away from the edge of the trench. Those are the basics, everyone should know them.
One of the challenges with construction is determining how your work can and will affect the existing conditions surrounding your job site. That’s why it’s increasingly important to not only perform proper due diligence procedures, but also react to the findings. That, unfortunately, doesn’t always happen and could potentially be what caused a massive sinkhole in Fukuoka, Japan, last week.