How to Become A Construction Worker

Should I Become a Construction Worker?

Construction workers perform different manual labor tasks at any construction site. These include operating various types of construction equipment and machinery, building and dismantling structures, transporting building materials and supplies from the vendor to the construction area, following all established building safety procedures, etc.  

The majority of construction workers/laborers tend to be generalists who can perform different tasks during an ongoing construction project. However, some choose to hone their craft in one or a couple of areas as well. These include building homes, digging tunnels, using hazardous materials, etc.

Construction work is quite demanding physically and safety precautions must be taken seriously to avoid potentially fatal injuries. If you are interested in becoming a construction worker, here is everything you need to know. 


High School Diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) Certificate (Not Mandatory)

Fields of Study



Different certifications are available. Handling of hazardous materials requires a license.



Key Skills

Operation monitoring, social perceptiveness, reading comprehension, coordination, active listening, multi-limb coordination, manual dexterity, static strength, arm-hand steadiness, control precision, operating system software, project management software and computer-aided design (CAD) software.                                                 

Annual Mean Salary

$40,350 (May, 2018) (Construction Laborers)

Job Outlook

Predicted job growth of 11% between 2018 and 2028 (Construction Laborers and Helpers)

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online

As a construction worker, you must have supreme physical fitness. Your upper body strength has to be on point while manual dexterity, multi-limb coordination and arm-hand steadiness should also be excellent. Moreover, all construction workers are expected to have sufficient command over project management and CAD (computer-aided design) software.  

Career Requirements

There are no binding educational requirements for becoming a construction worker. In most cases, you can start off with an apprenticeship to learn the tricks of the trade. You may also take up an entry level construction worker position and then learn everything on the job. If you do want to get some education before starting out, then a High School Diploma or an equivalent GED (General Educational Development) Certificate will suffice.

Steps to Become a Construction Worker

To become a construction worker in the United States, follow the process outlined below.

  1. Finish High School (Optional) and Learn About the Field

To become a construction worker, you may or may not finish high school. The important thing is to learn about the field and the different roles that a construction worker normally takes up. These are likely to include cleaning up and getting a construction site ready for work, assembling and removing temporary structures/scaffolding to aid the construction work, preparing and laying out all building materials, digging trenches, directing equipment operators, polishing surfaces, installing drainpipes, etc. You must also be able to read charts, plans and layouts that determine daily assignments on site.

  1. Complete an Apprenticeship or Learn on the Job

Most construction laborers/workers learn everything on the job. But, some apprenticeship programs are also available which provide specialized training in the field. If you choose to learn on the job, you will be working under the supervision of experienced construction workers. In an apprenticeship program, you will undergo both classroom and practical training which can last between 2 to 4 years.

During this period, you will be taught how to operate different types of construction equipment, how to read building blueprints, the proper way to implement health and safety procedures, etc. In-depth safety training is especially provided to those workers who will be working with toxic chemicals and dangerous machinery.    

  1. Get a License/Certification

A license or certification is not mandatory for construction workers in most states. However, individual employers may require their workers to be certified. To that end, below are some of the options that you can choose from.

  • Certified Welder (CW) offered by the American Welding Society (AWS)
  • Certified Concrete Flatwork Finisher/Technician offered by the American Concrete Institute (ACI).
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Certificate offered by OSHA, the national regulatory body for health and safety measures.
  • Silica in Construction Certificate offered by OSHA.
  • Safety Auditor Certificate and Certified Environmental Manager offered by the National Association of Safety Professionals (NASP).

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