Construction Careers: Options, Job Titles, and Descriptions

The construction sector includes the construction of commercial, industrial, and residential buildings and engineering projects like roads, bridges, and utility systems. Construction includes both new construction and remodeling, additions, maintenance, and repairs.

Construction is one of the industries with the highest projections for new employment opportunities. Positions vary, ranging from unskilled laborer and helper jobs to roles that require extensive training, education, and skills.

Job Titles With the Highest Employment

Image shows a bar graph with a shovel, a saw, a pair of pliers, a forklift, and a clipboard above. Text reads:
Image by The Balance 2019

Overall, the construction industry employed 7,505,000 workers in July 2019 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 2018, the job titles with the highest number of employees included:

  • Carpenters – 611,070
  • Construction Laborers – 849,570
  • Construction Managers – 227,460
  • Electricians – 503,660
  • Operating Engineers and Other Equipment Operators – 245,320

Jobs with the Highest Projected Growth

Construction is projected to add 864,700 new jobs by 2026. Employment is estimated to grow 12% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, increasing from 6.71 million jobs to 7.58 million jobs.

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for all construction and extraction jobs was $51,220 in May 2018. (For comparison, the median annual wage for all occupations in that same time period was $51,960.)

Which jobs need the most employees? All jobs in the construction sector are projected to have an increase in employment. 

Projected growth ranges from 1%, which is far below the average for all jobs (8.4%), for Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, to 105% for Solar Photovoltaic Installers. Almost all of the major job categories within construction are projected to grow at above-average rates.

The most in-demand jobs, with higher-than-average projections for job creation, in the sector include:

People in this role assemble, install, and repair boilers and other containers holding liquid or gas. Typically, boilermakers participate in apprenticeships for training, and the work itself has the potential for danger. (It's one of the highest-paying jobs available in the construction industry.) 

  • Projected Growth: 9%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $62,150 per year 

In this job, people drive or operate equipment and machinery to build and repair roads, buildings, and more. Apprenticeships and training programs are available, but it's also very common to learn on the job. 

  • Projected Growth: 12%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $46,990 per year

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

  • Projected Growth: 10%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $59,700 per year

Laborers and helpers do the physical work — including digging, building, unloading, clearing, and assisting craftspeople — required on job sites. They may also operate machinery. Training for the position comes on the job. 

  • Projected Growth: 12%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $34,810 per year 

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical systems in both residential and commercial spaces. Training is required for this role, typically through schools or apprenticeships. Depending on the state, a license may be required as well. See a sample resume and skills list for an electrician here. 

  • Projected Growth: 9%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $55,190 per year 

People in this role put in elevators, escalators, and other moving walkways and stairs, and also maintain and repair them. More than half of all states require these workers to be licensed, and training for the job is typically achieved through an apprenticeship. 

  • Projected Growth: 12%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $78,890 per year 

Flooring Installers

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

  • Projected Growth: 10%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $40,830

Glaziers

Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights, and other fixtures in storefronts and buildings.

  • Projected Growth: 11%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $43,550

Hazardous Material Removers

Hazardous material removal workers identify and dispose of asbestos, lead, radioactive waste, and other hazardous materials. They also neutralize and clean up materials that are flammable, corrosive, or toxic.

  • Projected Growth: 17%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $42,030

Ironworkers can learn the correct way to install iron and steel for buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures on the job or through an apprenticeship . 

  • Projected Growth: 13%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $52,770 per year 

Using bricks, stone, concrete, and other materials, masons create or build walls, fireplaces, fences, and more. Programs to learn masonry are available at technical colleges, or workers can learn on the job or through an apprenticeship. 

  • Projected Growth: 12%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $44,810 per year 

People in this role install pipes in both residential and commercial spaces. A license is usually required, and training is through apprenticeships or school programs. Review this sample resume for a plumber, along with a list of skills for plumbers

  • Projected Growth: 16%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $53,910 per year 

Roofers

Training to install and repair roofs is typically achieved on the job, although apprenticeship programs are available. 

  • Projected Growth: 11%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $39,970 per year

Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Installers

Also known as PV installers, people with this job title install solar roof panels on residential and commercial buildings. Courses are available for training, as well as apprenticeships and on-the-job training. 

  • Projected Growth: 105%
  • 2018 Median Pay: $42,680 per year

More Construction Job Titles

See below for an extensive list of construction-related job titles and occupations. Use this list to help power your job search. 

Carpenter

  • Apprentice
  • Carpenter
  • Framing Carpenter
  • Dry Wall Finisher
  • Dry Wall Installer
  • Plasterer
  • Joiner

Construction Laborers and Helpers

  • Laborer
  • General Laborer
  • Painter
  • Construction Worker
  • Ceiling Tile Installer

Electricians

  • Apprentice
  • Electrician
  • Journeyman Electrician
  • Master Electrician

Elevator Mechanic

  • Elevator Installer
  • Elevator Repair

Engineer

  • Assistant Project Manager
  • Building Inspector
  • Civil Engineer
  • Superintendent
  • Surveyor
  • Field Engineer
  • Inspector
  • Planner
  • Construction Engineer

Equipment Operators

  • Crane Operator
  • Signal Worker
  • Equipment Operator
  • Heavy Equipment Operator

Exterior Installations

  • Roofer
  • Insulation Specialist
  • Siding Contractor
  • Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Masonry Workers

  • Concrete Laborers
  • Mason

Plumbers

  • Master Plumber
  • Plumber
  • Boilermaker
  • Pipe Fitter

Site Management

  • Purchasing Coordinator
  • Project Assistant
  • Project Manager
  • Safety Director
  • Safety Manager
  • Scheduler
  • Site Manager
  • Construction Assistant
  • Construction Coordinator
  • Construction Foreman
  • Construction Manager
  • Construction Superintendent
  • Construction Supervisor
  • Contract Administrator
  • Contract Manager
  • Estimator

Welder

  • Welder
  • Iron worker