Even if you’re proficient and technically-skilled, whether or not you land that job depends on whether you meet the criteria of what employers are looking for in construction workers.
Nowadays, construction office job titles and descriptions list not only physical skills but also interpersonal or transferable skills. Below, we look at some of the qualities and skills employers are looking for in construction recruits.
What are construction skills and qualities?
A skill is something you can do, and a quality is an attribute you have. For example, punctuality is a quality, and knowing how to operate heavy equipment is a skill.
Both are extremely, if not equally, important to landing and keeping a job in the construction industry. With the construction industry becoming digital, tech-related skills are also becoming a must-have for many jobs.
Types of construction skills employers look for
There are several types of construction skills, such as the following.
These skills are related to your physical abilities. For example, many on-site jobs require you to lift heavy loads and operate machinery. Some examples of physical skills are:
- Hand-eye coordination
- Heavy lifting
- Physical stamina and strength
- Fine motor skills
- First aid skills
- Good hearing
- Personal protective equipment use
- Strong eyesight
- Lifting technique
If you want to work as a contractor or engineer, you’ll need to use a variety of design skills. These include:
- CAD software experience
- Building codes knowledge
- Environmental regulations familiarity
You may also need to be proficient in measurements, blueprint development, and safe worksite development.
As a construction worker, you have to communicate with a lot of people. You’ll have to communicate with your supervisor, fellow laborers, and contractors if you’re an on-site laborer. Some communication skills required in the construction industry include:
- Instruction delivery
- Conversation skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Conflict resolution
- Price negotiation
- Labor relations
- Customer service
Your cognitive skills will help you navigate complicated situations, solve problems, and understand the dynamics of a complex construction project. Here are some good skills to have:
- Technical jargon and terminology
- Geometry and Algebra
- Critical thinking
Modern construction has become quite technological. So, it helps to know how to use these:
- Augmented reality
- Estimating software
- Building information modeling (BIM)
- Mobile apps
- Virtual reality
- Construction management software
Technical building skills
The main difference between a high-paid and a low-paid construction worker is technical building skills. Some examples are:
- Electrical wiring
- Drywall installation
- Window installation
- Machine operation
- Flooring installation
- Pipe fitting
- Window and door installation
Trade specific skills
A trade-specific skill can make you a sought-after candidate for a construction job. Some skills to specialize in are:
- Concrete forming
- Pipe fitting
What are popular skills for construction workers?
According to PayScale, these are the most popular skills for construction workers:
- Flooring installation – PayScale data shows that floor installers make $17 an hour. According to the construction workers who have submitted their salaries on the platform, it is the most popular skill for construction workers.
- Window/door installation – The pay rate for window/door installation is $18 an hour, and it is the second most popular skill.
- Machine operation – This is the third most popular skill and has an hourly salary of $17.
- Heavy equipment operation– Although heavy equipment operation is not as popular as general machine operation, it has a higher salary of $19 an hour.
- Labor relations – It’s the fifth most popular skill for construction workers, with an hourly rate of $17.
Which skills affect construction worker salaries?
Employers do not merely want to see your skills on paper. They are ready to pay you more if you have certain skills. Here are some of them as per PayScale data:
- Arc welding –Payscale data shows that arc welding is the most lucrative skill. It increases your hourly rate by 64%, which is much higher than any other skill on the list.
- Construction site inspection –Some skills you need to become a good inspector include an understanding of the codes and standards, excellent observational skills, and the ability to take accurate notes. You can earn 12% more than the average construction worker’s salary if you have what it takes.
- Heavy equipment operation –Knowing how to operate heavy equipment can help you earn 11% more.
- Plumbing– Construction workers with plumbing skills earn 4% more than their peers.
- Commercial– If you’re good at commercial construction, you can make 3% more than you’d make on a residential site.
- Window/door/cabinetry installation– These skills raise your hourly rate by 2%.
- OSHA compliance –Construction workers who understand the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations also earn 2% more than average.
How to know which skills employers are looking for?
The job description is your window into the employer’s mind. Most job descriptions list skills and qualities the employer wants the candidate to have.
For example, they may require you to have at least three years of experience in masonry. Or, you may be required to know how to use a drone for on-site equipment tracking.
If you think you’re lacking the skills most employers look for these days, here are some ways to improve your skills:
- Embrace technology – With time, the construction industry will become even more tech-led. The sooner you learn to use the emerging construction industry technology, the better.
- Take a course– Even with excellent cognitive and physical skills, there’s always room for learning. You can take a course to learn CAD, BIM, or project management.
- Learn new construction techniques – Employers want to ensure you’re up-to-date with current construction trends and practices. Learn new techniques and methods through online tutorials or industry publications.
While you may not have every skill and quality in the book, you can surely have enough to land your desired job. The key is to never stop learning and make technology your best friend moving forward.