Rosie on the House: Debunking the myths of construction careers

Jocelyn McAlpin on 03/01/2021

There are many myths surrounding construction careers. Build Your Future Arizona helps us debunk those myths.

Myth No. 1: The construction industry isn’t for women.

Fact: Women are flourishing in construction sciences. According to the United States Department of Labor, more than 939,000 women were working in construction in the U.S. in 2016, up from about 800,000 women in 2010.

There are so many women working in construction that there is a professional organization just for them — the National Association of Women in Construction, or NAWIC. NAWIC provides education, community, and advocacy for women. NAWIC’s upcoming Women in Construction Week, March 7-13, will highlight women as a viable component of the construction industry.

NAWIC Tucson will hold a virtual event on March 10. Seasoned and new female construction professionals will connect and meet local female students enrolled in various construction education programs. Industry, education, scholarship information, and trivia are among the activities. Details can be found at nawictucson.org.

“We are very fortunate to have so many amazing women leaders in the construction industry and professionally supporting women here in our own community,” says Ann Vargas, Tucson Women in Construction Week chairwoman.

Myth No. 2: There is little demand for construction workers.

Fact: Construction in the U.S. is booming. In June 2018, there were 263,000 job openings in the construction industry, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Through 2026, BLS projects faster-than-average employment growth in the industry.

Preliminary BLS data show that there were 7.2 million construction jobs in July 2018. That marks the highest employment level for the construction industry in a decade.

Build Your Future Arizona reports that by September 2022, 155,000 construction science technology professionals will be needed in Arizona.

Myth No. 3: Construction jobs do not pay well.

Fact: Many construction professionals 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 professional’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. The median salary for construction project managers in Arizona is $82,790.

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.

Jeff Fleetham, director of Arizona Registrar of Contractors, sums it up: “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.”

Myth No. 4: Construction is a dead end for people without useful skills.

Fact: Many construction specialties 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 utilize different educational tracks including apprenticeships, internships, various credentialing programs, and even multiple college degree options in construction management, business management, engineering, economics, architecture, and business administration.

There are many career and technical education programs for high school students and young adults across Southern Arizona.
Pima Joint Technological Education District serves students from public, private, charter, and home schools, plus students who have not earned a diploma or GED and are under 22 years old. There are campuses throughout Pima County, Santa Cruz Valley, Nogales, Mammoth, and San Manuel. Construction and construction-related programs include cabinetmaking, carpentry, heavy equipment operations, HVAC, electrical, masonry, carpentry, or plumbing. Visit pimajted.org for details.

An apprenticeship combines on-the-job-training experience with related classroom instruction. The Arizona Department of Economic Security explains that apprenticeships last one to six years, with the average being three to four years. Graduates who successfully complete their apprenticeship training will receive a nationally recognized completion certificate.

“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,” says Fleetham.
A list of registered apprenticeship programs in Arizona can be found at tucne.ws/desapprentice.

An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert since 1988, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio broadcast, heard locally from 10-11 a.m. on KNST (790-AM) in Tucson. Ask Rosie on the House your homeowner questions by emailing info@rosieonthehouse.com or call 888-767-4348.

Posted by Jocelyn McAlpin