The world of construction is primarily dominated by men, but the gender gap is closing, affording women the opportunity to excel in the field. According to a 2019 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the construction industry is leading the way with the narrowest pay gap between men and women. The study found that female construction workers are earning 94.3% of their male counterparts’ wages. Industry pay gaps were 10% greater in education and over 20% greater in healthcare and social assistance.
While presently, women only fill 10% of the US construction industry roles, an increasing number of women are exploring opportunities in the construction field. Construction companies are eager to add more women to their teams, making promising strides in equity among their organizations and leadership. Research by the Home Builders Institute indicates that the construction industry will require an additional 2.2 million construction workers in the next three years to staff residential construction projects alone. This demand – in tandem with the national labor shortage – creates tremendous opportunities for women with a passion to grow within the industry.
Jaime Howley, CSP – Vice President of Recruiting & Client Relations at JK Executive Strategies, specializes in recruiting and placement for construction agencies nationwide. In a recent construction industry interview, Jaime offered the following invaluable insights for women interested in pursuing a career in construction:
Q: What types of careers are available in the construction field?
A: There are a variety of options for careers in the construction field. Specialized roles are available in a vast array of industry trades including masonry, electrical, carpentry, and plumbing. There are also opportunities in estimating and project management where roles entail management and oversight within the construction field rather than hands-on work execution. Some people might not realize that roles within engineering are also considered part of the construction field. Depending on the company’s focus, the engineering field affords opportunities in structural, electrical, civil, mechanical, and industrial engineering.
Q: How much education is required to pursue employment in each area of construction?
A: Educational requirements vary, depending on each role or position. Many construction positions have a trade school requirement while others may offer on-the-job training and/or hiring based on experience. Several trade schools offer apprenticeship programs with both union and non-union partnerships, as well as specialized engineering programs depending on the individual’s area of interest. Several high schools have also started integrating incredible programs, providing students with career experiences that mimic real-life trade exposure to attract interest early on. The great thing about construction is that jobs will always be available due to the evolution, expansion and growth of cities, communities, and businesses. Continuing Education programs are also available to individuals already working in the field seeking to enhance or redirect their career path or interest.
Q: Why do you feel women in construction should be celebrated?
A: There are immense benefits to having women on a construction team including attention to detail, their ability to offer a different perspective, and their drive-to-succeed attitude in a male-dominated field. Seeing women break the gender barrier in the construction field, out there with hard hats and boots, and directing dump trucks and excavators is awesome! With the November 2021 signing of the $1.2-trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the construction industry is anticipated to propel solutions and funding to address diversity imbalances in Architecture, Engineering, and Construction staffing and projects, while also adding an anticipated 1.5 million jobs per year, affording women even greater opportunities for industry growth and success. Construction is a stable career; if a woman chooses that path, she will consistently be able to find steady work because of the ongoing demand for women in the construction field.
Q: Where should someone look if they want to pursue a job in construction?
A: A great place to start is to network with local construction firms and identify those whose specialties align with your interests and strengths. Connect with company leaders and offer your resume for review, share your story and reasons why you are pursuing the construction path. Outline what you have to offer with your specific experience. Taking these types of actions can afford you the opportunity to garner excellent guidance and feedback from the industry pros. Job boards are also a great way to gauge the volume of hiring going on within a company or region. The more postings within the job board, the higher the demand for staffing and the more flexible they might be to support your career shift into construction.
JK Executive Strategies has successfully placed candidates in construction companies nationwide for over five years. If you’re looking to jump into the world of construction, give us a call or visit our website today!