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Stop Getting Distracted by Stereotypes

“Construction workers are dirty”

“Construction workers are uneducated people who’s only option is to do brute labour”

“Construction work isn’t a respectable career”

“A construction site is no place for a lady”

“Working in construction isn’t profitable”

Give your head a shake. The construction industry is based off of so many roles and responsibilities and every single one of them is important to getting to the end goal.

Yes, some jobs involve you getting down and dirty but you are building something spectacular and you get to see physical progress everyday. Imagine, you can see the impact you make every single day in making someone else’s life (or even maybe your own!) better. Construction does just that… as much as we moan and complain about how annoying construction is, it is essential to our growing economy and to maintaining our lifestyles. Lets take a look at just a small portion of roles that can be found in the construction.

Trade Workers

These jobs take and abundance of knowledge, skill and craftsmanship to make things come together. Trades are the people on the ground getting things done. So many different levels schooling or apprenticeships are needed to get to a place where you can be licensed in your trade of choice. Each trade has varying requirements and if you’re joining a union even more requirements may have to be met.

For example, here in Ontario an electrician must complete 9000 hours (approximately 5 years) of work as an apprentice (under the watch of a licensed electrician) before they can apply to be licensed, that’s longer than most university programs.

Looking at carpenters, currently they are required to complete 7200 hours broken into 4 x 1800 hour terms. Each term is broken down into 90% work and 10% schooling, so at the end of each work term you’re required to complete some in-class training. Once again, you’re paid for that 90% of your hours. The Province of Ontario also offers grants to help pay for the schooling portion and tools to get started.

For a quick reference on how much you’ll be paid during your apprenticeship I’ve pulled the current union agreement rates from the College of Carpenters website ( Check out what your starting wages could be:

Apprentice wages increase according to apprenticeship term. The current hourly ICI collective agreement rates for apprentices are:

Why choose to do an apprenticeship over university? For one, you’re learning hands on from day one. You get to apply what you’re learning and figure out how to do things efficiently from the get-go. Another reason, tuition adds up fast but with an apprenticeship you’re paid while you’re learning. For information on how to become and apprentice check out Algonquin College’s Apprentice FAQ’s Page:

and the Province of Ontario “Start an Apprenticeship” page:

Work Coordination and Management Roles

Another type of role that carries a lot of weight is the Project Management and Site coordination roles. Although most of these roles are based out of an office setting I believe that it is important to get yourself on site to see how and why things are happening. A job never goes to plan and it’s good to get a good look at why things aren’t working as planned and how to better prepare yourself for similar situations.

It’s important to have open ears when dealing with any trade on site and listen to their expertise. Some people probably never did anything past high school but they can find solutions you would never think of and build things with their eyes closed that you could never imagine. By building a good relationship with the people doing the work and respecting their opinions you’ll get a lot further and have a smoother job.

Most of these positions require experience in the field or a degree/diploma in a relevant field. For example, my office has an abundance of Civil Engineers and Civil Engineering Technicians. Knowledge of the work is key to helping solve problems on a day to day basis. Some typical backgrounds include civil, mechanical, electrical and environmental engineering and engineering technicians.

The starting salary for an entry level position can typically range anywhere from $45000 to $55000. Most of these positions will involve some type of inspecting work, drafting, or on site work. Typically, the more involved on site you are the more money you will make in your starting positions. This doesn’t mean going out to build things but more tracking and scheduling of work and quality control.

Salaries later in your career, depending on your path can typically range anywhere from $80000- $120000. It can go much higher depending on your drive and what you want to pursue.

It’s important to know that construction takes a lot of skill and work no matter what you decide to do in the field. Building is never easy but always so rewarding. It’s amazing to see the progress you can make in such a short amount of time and the thrill you can give people watching their dreams come to life!

Thanks for reading!

Laura H.

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