Associate's degree programs provide industry knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level positions as construction laborers. Programs at the bachelor's level provide additional management training in preparation for careers in construction contracting or in leading construction projects. Graduates of these programs may be qualified to pursue voluntary certification, which is often encouraged by employers. Apprenticeships may be part of a program.
To enroll in an associate's program, students must hold a high school diploma or GED, with coursework in physics, algebra, and technical drawing strongly encouraged. For bachelor's programs, students must also hold a high school diploma or GED. Coursework in physics, algebra, technical drawing, business, and communications is encouraged.
Associate's Degree in Construction Technology
Community colleges and vocational schools offer two-year associate's degree programs in construction technology. These programs provide the basic skills and knowledge used for light commercial and residential construction. Some programs are designed to complement apprenticeship training. Graduates may be qualified for work as construction laborers, carpenters, estimators and remodelers.
Programs cover a range of construction topics, including construction materials, methods, estimating costs, project management and safety issues. Courses might include:
- Safety and equipment
- Print reading
- Building codes
Bachelor's Degree in Construction Technology Management
Bachelor's degree programs in construction technology often have a management focus. These 4-year programs, offered by many technical schools, colleges and universities, prepare students for managerial positions within the construction trade, such as project managers, contractors and subcontractors.
Topics of study include:
- Project management
- Construction materials and methods
- Finance and accounting
- Construction law
- Construction safety and inspection
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), employment for construction laborers should grow at a faster-than-average rate of 13% from 2014-2024. However, job growth is dependent on the construction trade as a whole and may fluctuate with the economy. The median annual salary as of May 2015 was $31,910.
Employment for construction managers is expected to grow at 5%, about as fast as the average for all occupations, over the 2014-2024 period, according to the BLS. Again, growth could be affected by downturns in the economy. The median salary for construction managers as of May 2015 was $87,400.
Certification and Continuing Education
Construction laborers might pursue continuing education in order to receive certification in a specialty area, such as welding or concrete finishing. The American Welding Society (www.aws.org) offers the Certified Welder designation along with several others. Several organizations, including the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (www.nrmca.org) and the American Concrete Institute (www.concrete.org), offer concrete certification.
Professional organizations, such as the Construction Management Association of America (www.cmaanet.org) and the American Institute of Constructors (www.aicnet.org), provide voluntary certification as well as continuing education opportunities to those in the construction management field.
Bachelor's and associate's degrees in construction technology help students develop the skills needed to work at and manage a construction site effectively. Graduating from these programs qualify students for employment, as well as certification from many organizations.