By Oleg Shvets

How many times have you heard someone tell you, “If you want to get a good job that pays you a lot of money, you have to go to college!” Even if you always assumed you would pursue a college education after high school, maybe deep down, you always knew that a traditional bachelor’s degree may not be the right path for you. College can create wonderful opportunities for many young people but it is easy to forget that it is not the only option for a rewarding career with high-earning potential.

Instead of accumulating college debt trying to figure out what you want to do, consider a high-paying and rewarding career in construction sciences. Advances in technology and science have opened up the construction sciences industry to a world of opportunity and high wages. This rapidly expanding industry is innovating daily, with strong growth in careers focused on computer modeling, virtual reality, drones, and more.

Even though the construction sciences industry continues to advance on the brink of some of the most exciting technology, plenty of outdated and inaccurate information still exists. To bust some of the most widespread myths about the construction sciences industry, we connected with Build Your Future Arizona, a project of the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation in conjunction with the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity/Arizona Commerce Authority to create a sustainable and skilled craft workforce.

Myth #1: The construction industry isn’t for women.

One of the most prominent myths is that the construction sciences isn’t for women. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Fact: Women are flourishing in construction sciences.

Now, more than ever, women are making their mark in construction sciences. According to the United States Department of Labor, more than 939,000 women were working in construction in the US in 2016, up from about 800,000 women in 2010.

Not only are more women entering this rewarding field, they are also making more money. According to the National Association of Women in Construction, women in the construction sciences industry earn 95.7% of what men make for the same position, compared to a staggering 79% in other industries across the country.

 Myth #2: There is little demand for construction workers.

You may have heard that due to the collapse of the economy in 2008, the demand for construction jobs and the overall number of construction projects has significantly declined.

Fact: Construction in the United States, and Arizona specifically, is booming.

Look around, construction is everywhere and the industry continues to grow every day! Based on data from the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity/Arizona Commerce Authority, the construction science industry is one of the highest in-demand industries in Arizona with a forecasted total of 163,510 jobs by 2026 (an increase of 34.7% from 2016).

According to a workforce survey and analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America Labor Department, Arizona had the third-largest percentage increase in construction employment (8.9%) out of 50 states plus D.C. between October 2018 and October 2019 and the fourth-largest numerical increase (14,400).

Myth #3: Construction jobs are just a dead end for people without useful skills.

For far too long, the construction industry has been seen as a low or middle-level-skilled industry with jobs that will leave you stuck in same career with little to no opportunity for advancement.

Fact: Plenty of construction careers require advanced training.

Construction sciences is a highly technical industry that requires intelligent and skilled workers that utilize both technical and problem-solving skills to create and build some of the most advanced projects in the world. Construction sciences utilizes a variety of different educational tracks including apprenticeships, internships, various credentialing programs, and even multiple college degree options including construction management, business management, engineering, economics, architecture, and business administration.

Whether you want to start your construction sciences training while you’re in high school or you are planning to pursue a master’s degree, there is a highly rewarding career waiting for you. Start by exploring how your interests and skillsets could translate to a career using the Build Your Future Arizona interactive career paths map located on their website at https://arizona.byf.org/levelup/.

Myth #4: Construction jobs do not pay well.

The same people who tell you that the construction sciences are only for people who couldn’t get into college will likely try to convince you that these jobs don’t pay well.

Fact: Many construction workers earn more per hour than the average university graduate – and without the student debt.

Entry-level employees in the construction sciences industry earn an average of $31,910 annually, while the national average for entry-level salaries among all industries is only $28,000 per year (according to Glassdoor). Throughout a career, an average construction worker’s annual salary continues to be greater than the overall national average annual salary. Skilled positions, such as plumbers and electricians, can make $50,000 or more per year. This is especially impressive when you consider that quite a few of these jobs only require apprenticeships, on-site experience, or specialized training in place of expensive college degrees. The median salary for Construction Project Managers is $82,790, and certain positions, such as Construction Project Managers and leadership positions, can easily bring in more than $100,000 annually.

When you pair these significantly higher salaries with little to no student loan debt, skilled construction science professionals are getting a head start on their careers and making a great living sooner than students who attend college. With many opportunities for career advancement and increasing salaries, these professionals are set to enjoy financial security and a comfortable lifestyle from an early age.

Arizona Registrar of Contractors Director, Jeff Fleetham sums it up perfectly, “Construction science technology professions are open for anyone wanting a meaningful career and virtually unlimited earnings without the debt associated with a four-year degree.

Apprenticeships offer training and on-the-job experience while earning a paycheck at the same time. Few industries offer this type of earn-while-you-learn opportunity.”

As your knowledge and experiences in construction sciences grow, there will be many career choices available to you: craft professional, foreman, project manager, project superintendent, company owner, just to name a few. To learn about many of the different occupations in the constructions sciences industry and the average salary of each position, check out https://arizona.byf.org/explore-careers/trading-cards/

By Oleg Shvets, Office of Economic Opportunity, State of Arizona. In partnership with the Arizona Commerce Authority, Build Your Future Arizona’s mission is to create a sustainable and skilled craft workforce by creating awareness about high paying construction careers, training opportunities and mapping career paths to employment in these high demand occupations. Visit Arizona.BYF.org to learn more.

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