When you think of a construction site, what comes to mind first? Probably a bunch of workers in hardhats sweating in the heat, right? Now answer this: are those workers men or women?
Be careful!Construction sites nowadays don’t look quite like they did a decade ago.
Of course, construction sites do still feature people in hardhats. And yes, on most construction sites, the majority of the workers will be men. However, in recent years, a growing number of women have joined the construction workforce — and they’re making a big impact.
We’re publishing this article in March, which is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we’ve decided to highlight just a few of the reasons more women are choosing construction careers. From compensation, advancement potential, and support networks, the construction industry has a lot to offer women.
When Cadeau Freeman completed the Construction Ready job training program, she went right to work for a construction company. But boots-in-the dirt, hands-on-the-drill construction work wasn’t the only thing she did afterward — far from it.
After beginning her first construction job in December 2018, she went to work for a paving company. That job equipped Cadeau with hands-on construction experience, which proved immensely valuable to her next employer: Home Depot. Less than one year at her paving company job, Cadeau took on a new role at Home Depot as a product tester in the company’s engineering laboratory.
Cadeau’s experience of rapidly working her way into a better-paying role is common in the construction industry. There’s a strong culture of internal promotion in construction — typically into roles with more responsibility and more money. Since construction is a field with great diversity in career options, there are all sorts of roles that workers can grow into over time.
After one’s first construction job, it isn’t long until one can work their way into a high-paying job as a framer, concrete finisher, heavy equipment operator, or carpenter. And those are just a few of the many professions available in the construction field.
Compared to other fields, construction has a remarkably low pay gap between male and female workers. Across all professions in the United States, women earn just 84% of what men earn. However, in the construction industry, women earn 99.1% of what men earn.
That’s huge. There’s almost no pay gap at all in construction.
Sure, it would be even better if that number was 100%, but it’s truly remarkable how small the pay gap in construction is. Women working in construction careers can expect, by and large, to earn the same wage as men for doing the same work. It’s a simple concept that ought to be universal across all professions. In construction, it’s actually the way things work.
Speaking of pay, did we mention construction jobs are well compensated?
A worker’s first construction job typically pays a wage similar to that of a service industry worker. Think: line cooks and hotel staff. However, the big difference between construction jobs and those other jobs is how much you can earn if you stay in the construction field — and how quickly the higher earnings arrive.
Cadeau Freeman, whose story we covered earlier, landed a great-paying job at Home Depot’s headquarters less than a year after starting her first construction job! And that type of trajectory is pretty common. Many Construction Ready graduates quickly work their way up from their first job into a higher paying role.
Electricians, for instance, earn an average wage of over $56,000. Pay for plumbers and carpenters is similar. And those are just averages. Electricians, plumbers, and carpenters with many years of work experience can earn substantially more. Many construction firms also offer benefits packages that are far better than what a worker could expect to earn in the service or retail sectors. Typical packages include health insurance and generous vacation benefits, among other perks.
When the COVID-19 recession hit the United States, women lost more jobs than men. That’s because losses affected industries where women were more likely to be working.
But HVAC technicians, plumbers, and electricians? They had plenty of work.
Even during a recession, people need to keep the lights on. They also need the AC to run, the water to drain, and — yes — the Amazon warehouse to get built.
No job is 100% recession-proof, not even in construction. But if you’re looking for a job that’s more recession-resilient than the one you’ve got now, the construction industry is home to many people whose skills and abilities are in demand no matter the economic climate.
Construction companies face a chronic worker shortage. It seems there are just never enough people with the skills and knowledge to fill all the construction jobs that are available.
For this reason, construction companies partnered together to form Construction Ready. Through Construction Ready’s construction training programs for adults and high school students, new construction workers are able to gain the skills and credentials they need to get their first construction job. And the training only takes 20 days!
97% of Construction Ready graduates get their first job during the program. That means they finish the 20 days with an offer of employment at a construction company. Since the program is fully funded through government grants and industry donors, participants don’t have to pay anything!
Today, that’s simply the easiest way to get started in construction. Depending on the community you live in, other options may include community or technical college programs. These programs usually last longer — up to a year for a certificate program or longer for an associate’s degree — and require out-of-pocket costs.
Since 1953, the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has supported women across the construction industry. Today, the organization has over 115 chapters throughout the United States and provides women with professional development programs, networking opportunities, and leadership training.
NAWIC’s main focus is on education and professional development. Through numerous training events at the local and national levels, NAWIC empowers women in construction to expand their skill sets and seek higher-paying, more prestigious roles at construction companies.
Eligible members must be women currently working in the construction industry for a minimum of 20 hours per week.
With its nearly non-existent pay gap, vast support networks, variety of career opportunities, and strong culture of promotion from within, there’s a lot for women to like about the construction field! It’s also a relatively easy field to enter, with arguably the best training option consisting of a 20-day training program that doesn’t cost students a dime.
To learn more about construction careers for women or learn whether Construction Ready is a good option for you, get in touch with us today!