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Construction Careers vs. a College Education, Which Pays Out More? (Infographic)

January 5th, 2014

By: Meaghan Olson

Many of us were told college is the best road to a financially secure future. That’s not always the case. See how many construction jobs pay more than some office jobs (and without all that student loan debt). Brought to you by the national construction rental company, BigRentz.com

Construction vs College Degree Salaries

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Transcript of Infographic: Why You Should be Looking for a Job in the Construction Industry

The construction industry is struggling to fill well-paid jobs, while half of recent college graduates are underemployed. Is it time to shed our national bias against getting our hands dirty? Are construction careers better than corporate carriers?

Why Consider Construction?

  1. The industry is growing. Economic recovery means investment in new buildings and infrastructure. Construction spending hit its highest level for four years in October, and construction jobs are predicted to be the fastest growing up to 2020.
  2. There aren’t enough trained people to fill jobs. 74% construction firms are struggling to fill skilled jobs. Craft workers are in the short supply, and demand for professional workers is fierce too, with companies offering competitive salaries and raising hourly wages.
  3. The pay is better than an office job. Mean annual wages in 2013: Construction occupations = $44,960 Office and admin support occupations = $34,410. Average annual salaries for recent graduates by major: Architecture and construction major = $46,000. Sciences major = $40,000. Liberal arts major = $38,000

Some Great Construction Jobs for People Who Already Graduated

Job Title: Cost Estimator
What you take home (average): $62,670
The low-down: costing entire projects, such as specific costs with electricals and equipment rentals (trencher and forklift rentals, for example).
On your CV: Bachelor’s degree in related field.
What’ll get you noticed: knowledge of Building Information Modelling Software, solid math.
Plus points: good mix of practical site visits, comfortable office work and interaction with people.

Job Title: Construction Manager
What you take home (average): $93,900
The low-down: Planning and budgeting construction projects, managing equipment rentals and ordering.
On your CV: Bachelor’s degree in construction science or a related field.
What’ll get you noticed: managerial experience, analytical thinking, communication skills.
Plus points: growing economy and population equals a commercial and public building boom and great job prospects.

Rethinking the American Dream: Is Traditional College Always the Best Option?

A chilling 52% of recent graduates are unemployed or in jobs that don’t require a degree. And with college tuition rates rising by around 42%, is a college education worth the cost? A trade school may give you more bang for your buck and better career prospects.

  • Average cost of a year’s tuition, room and board in 2010 at a four-year college = $20,986
  • Average costs of a year’s tuition at a two-year school in 2010 = $8,451
  • Overall difference in price between a college qualification and a trade school qualification, 2010 = $67,482

Two Great Construction Jobs Where You Don’t Need a Degree

Job Title: Plumber 
What you take home (average): $51,830
The low-down: installation, maintenance and repair of water pipes.
On your CV: A plumbing apprenticeship – up to 5 years.
What’ll get you noticed: a range of experience, adaptability, solid math.
Plus points: new builds and upgrades mean plenty of work, plus boomer generation plumbers are retiring and leaving jobs open.

Job Title: Cement Mason & Concrete Finisher 
What you take home (average): $39,370
The low-down: pouring, spreading, reinforcing and levelling foundations.
On your CV: on-the-job experience or cement mason apprenticeship (3 years).
What’ll get you noticed: other masonry-related qualifications.
Plus points: high demand for upgrades to infrastructure means a demand for skilled cement workers.

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