Their salaries might surprise you | Why your kids should consider a career in construction

ATLANTA - More than 5,000 Georgia students will gather for the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia's (CEFGA) 13th annual Georgia Career Expo.

They'll explore more than 30 career pathways, ranging from tile setter to heavy equipment operator. 

It runs from March 23 through March 24 at the Georgia International Convention Center and includes the Skills USA Georgia State Championships, an annual skills competition to determine the top career and technical education students in the state.

Dan Smith, CFO and EVP of New South Construction, said the Expo helps students and their parents open their eyes to opportunities in construction.

“As a parent, I believe construction is a worthwhile industry for young people to explore," Smith said. "There are many jobs and the pay is very good. There is also a lot of job security in the construction industry. Construction jobs can’t be shipped overseas. These job sites are right here in our backyard.”

Smith provided details about seven job titles in construction:

  • Project Manager: This job requires a bachelor’s degree in construction management. Project managers use interpersonal communication skills, business skills and construction management skills to oversee construction logistics and to ensure that projects get completed. Project managers typically earn $80,000-plus a year. 
  • Welding: A profession in the construction industry that doesn’t require a college degree, but yields an average salary of $80,000. Becoming a welding professional requires a high school diploma and training from welding school which typically takes about three months.
  • Safety Engineer: This position doesn’t necessarily require a college degree but does require a passion for safety and relative construction experience. Currently, we are seeing a big push in the industry to focus more on safety. Safety managers can average yearly salaries of $70,000 and higher.
  • Scheduler: A unique position that requires a little more experience. Schedulers are generally more technologically savvy and interested in IT systems. Schedulers help coordinate and produce schedules for larger construction projects and manage construction logistics. Average scheduler salaries are $60,000 a year.
  • Ammonia Refrigeration Technician: This is a mechanical contractor trade involving HVAC education obtained from a technical school. Ammonia refrigeration technicians work on replacing ammonia in industrial refrigeration units and can earn six figure salaries.
  • Virtual Design Construction (VDC): VDC professionals work off architect designs to build 4D models of projects. These designs demonstrate how the buildings’ systems work with the architecture. VDC relies heavily on leveraging exciting new technology, including virtual reality. $70,000 a year is the average salary for VDC professionals.
  • Flagger: Becoming a flagger is an option for those who are unable to obtain a diploma or don’t have the education or experience-oriented background, but are still looking to enter the construction industry. Becoming a flagger requires a brief construction certification and pays $15/hour on average. This also gives people the opportunity to begin working in the field where they can learn other relevant skills and eventually move into other construction-related roles.

“I know when most parents think about construction jobs, they think about muddy boots and hard labor, but that isn’t necessarily the case," Smith added. "There are endless job opportunities in the construction industry right now. We need people right out of high school who are ready to work.

Smith said all education and experience levels are found in the construction industry, including the entry-level route, the skilled labor route or the professional route. 

“Right now in the state of Georgia, we are seeing a labor shortage, so there is a big push in the industry to get skilled laborers," Smith explained. "In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor recently passed an initiative to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to work in the construction industry.”

Smith said his company has a lot of employees without college degrees who have worked their way  up to manager-level roles.

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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