Building construction workers help erect residential, educational, business and government structures. Though they usually work full time, they may have to stop during bad weather because they commonly work outdoors. They may also need overtime schedules to meet deadlines. In four-season climates, they may only be able to work from spring to fall. Their salaries depend on their job titles.
Building construction laborers earned an average $34,450 per year, or $16.56 per hour, as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They typically perform basic tasks such as cleaning and preparing construction sites, moving construction materials, digging trenches or filling holes, and following instructions from supervisory staff. No formal education is needed because most pick up their skills on the job. The BLS sees jobs for the profession growing by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is faster than average for all occupations in all industries.
Construction equipment operators, sometimes called operating engineers, received a mean $34,450 annually, or $16.56 per hour, in 2011. They control heavy machinery or drive vehicles used in construction. They clean and maintain their equipment, coordinate machine actions with other construction staff, and maneuver equipment. They can make basic repairs but must report complex problems to supervisors so specialists can be called in. Training is available on the job, through private trade schools or in apprenticeships. Jobs are expected to increase by 23 percent, which is faster than average.
In 2011, building steel and structural iron workers made an average of $45,310 per year, or $21.78 per hour. They install the iron or steel beams, girders and columns needed to form the skeleton of structures. They unload and organize prefabricated steel, use a crane to lift elements into place, verify alignment, and connect pieces with bolts or by welding. Most learn their skills through formal apprenticeships, though on-the-job training is also possible. Jobs are predicted to grow by 22 percent, which is faster than average.
Though tradespeople are not normally called construction workers, their efforts are just as necessary to the creation of structures as other laborers. In 2011, carpenters constructing buildings earned $44,010 per year, or $20.67 per hour. Electricians made $50,820 annually, or $24.43 per hour. Brick and block masons received $53,580 per year, or $25.76 per hour. And plumbers were paid $54,420 annually, or $26.16 per hour. Though qualifications vary by craft, most tradespeople learn their skills through formal apprenticeships or by starting as helpers and learning on the job. Some trade schools may also offer courses.