Industry Spotlight: Construction

Industry Summary

How would it feel to drive around St. Louis and know that you helped build some of the newest schools and hospitals? Would you like to be able to point to a new skyscraper downtown and say “I helped build that”? If the idea of a career in construction appeals to you, the following information will help guide you in your search. Construction workers construct new buildings and remodel existing ones using hand and power tools. Residential construction focuses on home building and remodeling, a very competitive and fast-paced market. The commercial construction industry includes building sports stadiums, office buildings, bridges, highways and much more.

Video Feature

Malik Johnson: Laborer, Clayco

This video is provided in partnership with Nine Network’s American Graduate Initiative

Apprenticeships

If you are interested in the construction trades, you can enter the industry by enrolling in an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships are FREE training programs that offer industry training while also providing a paycheck from the first day. Union construction apprenticeships usually last between three and five years. Apprentices are paid on an increasing wage scale during the apprenticeship and do not have to pay for the cost of their education. At the conclusion of the apprenticeship period, the worker receives an Apprenticeship Completion Certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor and is recognized nationwide as a credentialed journey-level tradesperson.

Wages

  • Apprentice wages start at about $15 per hour with progressive increases that can exceed $38 per hour.
  • Benefits packages include healthcare coverage and a pension
  • Holiday and vacation pay
Construction workers do not have a set annual salary. They are paid based on hours worked and there are periods of layoff due to weather conditions and/or lack of work. Construction workers must learn to manage their money by putting aside savings during busy periods to make up for periods when they don’t work. Construction workers can receive unemployment benefits from the government during layoff periods. Below is the mid-range salary (also known as median salary) and an estimate of future job openings for three types of jobs in construction. This is to give you a sense of what the annual wages could be.

Carpenter: (SOC: 47-2031)

  • Labor Statistics Page
  • Median Salary: $62,370
  • Annual Projected Openings in Missouri: 2,080

Construction Craft Laborer: (SOC: 47-2061)

  • Labor Statistics Page
  • Entry Salary: $26,650
  • Median Salary: $50,700
  • Annual Projected Openings in Missouri: 3,050

Electrician: (SOC: 47-2111)

  • Labor Statistics Page
  • Entry Salary: $45,030
  • Median Salary: $71,530
  • Annual Projected Openings in Missouri: 1,450

Getting Started

Spend some time learning about what a career in the trades might look like and what you need to do to start working. Consider participating in the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, which provides an overview of construction trades careers and an introduction to some of the programs. the BUD program also helps applicants get connected with employers and apprenticeship programs. To apply to the BUD Program, click here

To search all Construction training programs listed on Blueprint4Careers,

Applying to an Apprenticeship Program

All apprenticeship programs have an application process and requirements. The following information is a summary of most apprenticeship programs.

General Apprenticeship Requirements: (Please note that specific requirements may vary by trade)

  • A minimum of 18 years old
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Pass an approved substance abuse test
  • Math, measurement, and reading skills
  • Reliable transportation
  • Dependable worker and able to start by 7:00am
Apprentices are also required to provide some of their own hand tools and dress in appropriate work clothes and shoes. 

Application Process

To apply, you will need to fill out some forms. These forms are usually at the trade’s training program office, so you have to go to the office to get them. Some programs require you to take entry tests, participate in a pre-apprenticeship program and take part in an interview process. You will also need to pass a drug screening to enter an apprenticeship program. There are two main ways to get into an apprenticeship program:

Application/Interview Selection Process:

  • If you meet the requirements, you may be asked to come for an interview. If you qualify, you may be placed on a waiting list for some programs until openings become available. Accepted apprentices are assigned to a contractor who will be their employer. 

Letter of Intent:

  • Some programs require you to submit a letter of intent. An employer’s letter of intent is a signed statement from the employer stating their willingness to give the apprentice a job and train the apprentice. For these programs, you must find an employer willing to hire you. When filling out the program application, the office will give you a list of union employers for that type of job. Once you obtain the letter of intent and return it to the program office, you will be enrolled immediately in the apprenticeship program and can begin working and being paid to learn the job.
 Tips for Obtaining a Letter of Intent:
  • Spring and early summer are usually the busiest hiring times. Winter is the slowest.
  • Phone calls are seldom returned. Show up early in person at a job site or employer’s office. You should dress in clothes that you need to complete the job. You will often need hard-toed shoes, long pants, and a polo-style shirt. If you are unsure, ask what the uniform is the day before you start. 
  • Getting the letter of intent is often a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Keep showing up again and again.  

Regional Apprenticeship Programs


Click on any of the following to visit the program page:
  • Boilermaker (SOC: 47-2011)
  • Bricklayer (SOC: 47-2021)
  • Carpenter (SOC: 47-2031)
  • Cement Mason (SOC: 47-2051)
  • Construction Craft Laborer (SOC: 47-2061)
  • Electrician (SOC: 47-2111)
  • Elevator Constructor (SOC: 47-4021)
  • Floor Layer (SOC: 47-2042)
  • Glazier (SOC: 47-2121)
  • Heat and Frost Insulator (SOC: 47-2131)
  • Iron Worker (SOC: 47-2221)
  • Operating Engineer (SOC: 47-2073)
  • Painter, Wallpaper Hanger & Drywall Finisher (SOC: 47-2141)
  • Pipefitter (SOC: 47-2152)
  • Plasterer (SOC: 47-2161)
  • Plumber
  • Roofers and Waterproofers (SOC: 47-2181)
  • Sheet Metal Worker (SOC: 47-2211)
  • Teamster
  • Tile Setter (SOC: 47-2044)
TOP REGIONAL EMPLOYERS:
  • Nooter Construction Co.
  • McCarthy Holdings Inc.
  • Alberici Corp.
  • PARIC Holdings
  • ARCO Construction Co. Inc.
  • Clayco

Career Ladder

Here is a sample career ladder you can use to help plan your future.

Current High School Students

Are you looking for opportunities to learn about these jobs while in high school? Reach out to a counselor in your school. Also, check out these resources available:

If you live or attend school in North St. Louis County- click here

If you live or attend school in South St. Louis County- click here

If you live in St. Louis City- click here

If you live in St. Charles County- click here

If you live in Jefferson County- click here

If you live in Collinsville, Illinois- click here

If you live in East St. Louis- click here