The disruptions of the pandemic led to not only job losses but also the Great Resignation, with many Americans reevaluating their careers and searching for better opportunities. While some areas are recovering, studies from the Pew Research Center, the National Bureau of Economic Research and others suggest that more women have lost their jobs overall, largely due to the higher percentages of women employed in the leisure and hospitality sector, retail, education and health services – which all took a big hit during the pandemic. If you’re one of the many American women seeking a career pivot, you should consider the construction industry.
“Women join the construction industry because they see a good career that will keep them challenged and support their families,” said Doreen Bartoldus, president of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). “We need more women in the field, and our organization develops materials designed to get kids excited about construction. We have female-specific programs for high school girls, and we see that changing attitudes.”
To call attention to the accomplishments of women in the field, NAWIC presents “Women in Construction Week” March 6-12, an annual event celebrating women’s contributions to building the nation.
Here are the top three reasons women should consider a career in construction:
1. Pay parity is better in the construction industry
Construction has one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the nation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. women earn an average of 81.1% of men’s earnings, but in construction fare much better – making over $0.94 for every $1 that men make.
And the best news? Demand in this field shows no sign of stopping. “Women should join this industry because it’s everlasting. There will always be new homes to build and remodel,” said Maggie Hardy Knox, president of 84 Lumber. “We’ve truly seen this over the last year. The career opportunities are endless.”
2. Careers for people from all backgrounds
Opportunities in construction offer variety in levels of training, experience and education. Whether you’re just out of high school, have a trade certification, vocational/technical or associate degree or four-year college degree, there are available positions that not only pay well, but are challenging and fulfilling. Many positions can be learned on the job, and a number of companies offer trainee programs for those seeking experience.
“The basic requirement to make it in the field is to genuinely care for customers and associates. And like anything else in life, a great work ethic can make you super successful,” observed Hardy Knox. “If you demonstrate those traits, our company will train you on everything else.”
3. Variety of roles
Another reason to consider the construction industry is the sheer variety of positions, involving a vast array of skill sets.
“The industry is broad enough where you can pick many career paths. For example, we have entry-level management trainee positions that touch all parts of our business,” Hardy Knox added. “Our team headquarters offers opportunities from purchasing to accounting and more. We also have tremendous opportunities within our installed sales division, and our on-site project managers work to help relieve residential building contractors and commercial builders from everyday problems associated with coordination of materials and labor.”
Here are examples of positions in construction-related areas to consider:
* Front line construction work
* Trades such as electrician, plumber, welder, brick mason, glazier, crane operator, carpenter, pipefitter
* Cost estimator, bookkeeper
* Safety manager
* Office worker/administrative
* Construction surveyor, construction inspector
* General contractor
* Project manager
* Civil engineer, architect
* Executive, business owner
Today’s labor shortage also means companies are striving to boost recruitment from a more diverse labor pool, resulting in the industry being much more welcoming to hiring women than ever before.
“One of the best ways for construction companies to recruit women is to make women in construction more visible,” said Kristi Allen, owner of WoodCastle Homes and contractor behind The House that SHE Built, a home built by Utah Professional Women in Building with the help of female volunteers from across the country. “The more we see women succeeding, the more likely it is other women will view the construction industry as a viable option for their careers.”