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8 Different Types of Jobs in Construction (Career Opportunities)

Female engineer at construction job site.

Construction is an exciting field with all kinds of opportunities for those who possess the skills. From managing projects to doing hands-on labor, the construction industry allows workers to earn a living while making improvements to the community. Here is a look at some of the best jobs in construction.

1. Project Manager

Project manager visiting construction site.

A project manager in construction is the person or group of people responsible for overseeing the completion of a project from start to finish. Construction is a multifaceted industry with many moving pieces involved in the competition of a particular building or development. Therefore, there is always a need for skilled project managers who are able to oversee all the labor and coordinate the necessary elements.

There are no formal educational requirements for becoming a project manager. But most have a background in construction and seek a promotion to project manager when an opportunity arises. Those looking to help their career advance faster can obtain a certificate in construction project management from an established institution of higher learning, although it’s not required.

The duties of a construction project manager include budgeting, collaborating with engineers, architects, laborers, and decision-makers, creating a work timeline and ensuring it is followed, hiring and supervising employees, managing risk, and responding to complaints or feedback. Construction project managers are needed at almost any construction site. However, you often need relationships with key decision-makers or referrals from trusted sources to get the job.

Construction project managers can earn a great living with an average salary of $96,029 per year. Plus, there is plenty of room to advance and handle more complex projects or move up the ranks within a particular company.

2. Civil Engineer

Civil engineer working in building construction site.

Civil engineers are responsible for designing and building infrastructure projects in both the public and private sectors, including construction. They are often responsible for constructing buildings, highways, bridges, tunnels, dams, and other necessary facilities. So, they can fulfill a number of different roles within the construction industry.

Civil engineers must obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a more specific field of study. Some higher-level senior management positions also require a graduate degree. Plus, those who offer services directly to the public may be required to obtain special licensure.

Civil engineers are responsible for developing, planning, and overseeing large construction projects. They create plans using computer software and work with the rest of the team including project managers, contractors, architects, and laborers to bring their designs to life. Civil engineers can find work in both the public and private sectors, working for construction companies to develop buildings or working with municipalities to build highways, bridges, tunnels, and other infrastructure projects.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for civil engineers in 2021 was $88,050 per year. Plus, about 25,000 new civil engineering job openings are projected each year, offering plenty of opportunities for growth within the industry.   

3. General Contractor

General contractor inspecting a construction project in progress.

A general contractor is the head construction manager in charge of all the other laborers and subcontractors. A general contractor has a similar role to a project manager, although they are typically more hands-on with the actual construction work and less involved in the planning and budgeting.

A good general contractor is needed at any construction site to coordinate all the other specialists and workers who are carrying out their own duties.

General contractors must have at least a high school diploma or GED, although a bachelor’s degree in construction is recommended. Most states require general contractors to obtain a license and register with the local government to operate legally. They must also obtain the proper insurance for their business and workers, including general liability and workers comp policies.

General contractors as tasked with creating a construction timeline, managing workers and subcontractors, doing quality control, ordering supplies and materials, renting equipment and handling any other big picture tasks related to the project. Some general contractors will perform some of the labor themselves, while others will simply oversee the other workers. But general contractors are the point of contact for other key stakeholders when it comes to planning and managing the actual labor.

The salary for a general contractor can vary greatly depending on the project, but the nationwide average is around $57,309 per year. General contractors can work for an established construction company or work on their own, so there is always room to be promoted or expand your own business.

4. Plumber

Professional plumber doing renovation in kitchen home.

Plumbers are vital to the success of any construction project. They are specialists who deal with the installation and maintenance of the systems used for water, gas, and sewage. While not always the most glamorous job, plumbers are highly in demand on construction sites and can be handsomely compensated for their efforts.

Plumbers do not need a college degree, but they typically need at least a high school diploma or GED. They must also complete an apprenticeship program to learn the trade and many states also require that plumbers be licensed. Beyond licensure, plumbers are also able to earn certification in more advanced disciplines to increase their earning potential.

Plumbers are tasked with installing, maintaining, and repairing pipes, valves, fittings, and drainage systems. They must also possess a strong knowledge of building codes and safety procedures to ensure that the building is safe for residents and visitors. Plumbers can find work in residential, commercial, or industrial construction projects.

Most plumbers start out by finding work through an apprenticeship but may eventually start their own company once they have enough experience. The median pay for a plumber was $59,880 per year in 2021. 51,000 new job openings for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are projected each year, offering ample opportunity for those with the experience.

5. Carpenter

Carpenter cutting house roof supports on building site.

Carpenters are another important category of specialists that are highly in demand in the construction industry. A carpenter is a skilled tradesman who engages in the construction, cutting, shaping, and installation of wood frames and other building materials. This skill is needed in many different aspects of construction, from erecting doors and windows to installing cabinets.

Carpenters also don’t need a college degree but typically do need at least a high school diploma or GED. Most carpenters learn on the job through apprenticeship programs or through vocational training at accredited trade schools. Apprentice programs typically last three to four years and teach students the skills they need to work on their own.

Some states require formal licensure while others require that carpenters obtain a contractor license if they plan on working on larger scale projects.

On a construction project, carpenters are tasked with installing the foundation, floors, walls, ceilings, and roof while also repairing, finishing, and maintaining any other wooden structures in the building. Carpenters typically work in residential or commercial construction, but they can also find employment as cabinet makers, furniture makers, or general craftsmen, as well.

The median pay for carpenters was $48,260 in 2021 and 83,30 job openings for carpenters are expected each year. 

6. Electrician

Young adult electrician builder engineer worker in front of fuse switch board.

Electricians are another group of tradespeople often found on a construction site. These skilled professionals specialize in designing, installing, and maintaining the electrical wiring of a building. The scope of their work includes not only the lighting but the HVAC, security, and computer systems of a building as well.

No college is required for an electrician, but they also must complete high school or obtain a GED. Like most trades, electricians learn their craft through apprenticeship programs. Many states require that electricians be licensed and registered with the local government to perform electrical work on a construction site or in a building.

Electricians are responsible for installing and repairing electrical wiring, diagnosing any electrical problems, conducting tests, using power tools, and staying up to date with local building codes to ensure safety. They have a complex and important job that is vital in a number of contexts. Electricians typically find work on residential or commercial construction sites or by working on local power and telecommunication systems.

There are also several stages that electricians can progress through to advance their careers. First, you will start out as an apprentice, then, after a few years of experience, you can move on to become a journeyman electrician, who is capable of working without direct supervision. After that, if you so choose, you can advance to become a master electrician and run your own business.

Journeymen need to complete at least 12000 hours of work before qualifying to become master electricians.  Your level of experience and expertise will determine how much you’re able to earn, but the annual salary for electricians was $60,040 per year in 2021.

7. Building Inspector

Inspectors discussing on a new building.

A building inspector is an individual employed by the local government who is tasked with ensuring that a construction project meets all the necessary safety standards and building codes.

They will look at all the work performed by the various contractors and tradesmen and make sure that it was completed properly and that the building is safe for residents and visitors. If the building inspector discovers a problem, he or she has the right to shut the project down or halt construction until the necessary issues have been addressed.

Building inspectors aren’t always required to obtain a college degree, although it’s often recommended. But they are required to obtain certification or licensure as required by the state. Building inspectors are employed by the local city or township government, not the developer of the construction project.

Their responsibilities include staying up to date on all local regulations and building codes, inspecting important structures and systems within a building including the electrical wiring, HVAC system, roof, siding, plumbing, and foundation, reviewing blueprints, checking smoke detectors, sprinklers, and other safety features and visiting a construction site periodically throughout the building process.

Building inspectors are typically paid a salary by the local government department they work for and compensation ranges from $59,833 to $80,677.

Being government employees, building inspectors have ample opportunity to advance into other supervisory or managerial positions within their department. 

8. Architect

Architectural building design of a young man architect.

An architect is a person responsible for designing, planning, and overseeing the construction of buildings. Similar to a civil engineer, an architect will create a computerized rendering of a building design and work alongside the rest of the construction team to bring it to life. The difference between the two professions is that an architect is more focused on the conceptual and creative elements of a building design, whereas civil engineers are more focused on the functional aspects.

Architects are required to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in architecture. Some competitive firms also require a master’s degree for senior-level positions. Some states require licensure beyond an accredited degree and registration with the local architectural board.

The primary duties of an architect are to plan and design the blueprints of a building, meet with clients to determine their needs, develop concepts, do research and implement data into their building designs, draft proposals, stay within budgeting requirements and work with other team members and key decision-makers to oversee the completion of a project.

Architects typically work for established firms, although with enough experience many go on to start their own independent firms. The firm will usually be hired by a particular developer or municipality to design a building.

Most architects are well compensated and the median salary in 2021 was $80,180. But there are several different specializations within the field of architecture, including residential, commercial, landscape, interior design, urban design, and industrial architecture, each offering different compensation and responsibilities.