• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Remember the building boom that skyrocketed in California almost a decade ago? No? That’s because most people in the construction industry are trying to forget the crash that followed.

But the pop-pop of nailguns and the whine of power saws are starting to be heard across the state and country again as the building industry gets back to work.

Anirban Basu, chief economist for Associated Builders and Contractors, hit the nail on the head when pointing out the upswing in construction jobs to rising equity markets and home prices.

“The result has been steady expansion in consumer spending,” Basu wrote in ABC’s Economic Update.

“For construction contractors, the implication is that the volume of work associated with lodging and shopping center construction will continue to march higher,” he said.

In its last biennial employment projections report, released in February 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted numerous construction jobs among the fastest-growing from 2012 to 2020.

If you enjoy working outdoors, are not afraid to get your hands dirty and like wearing t-shirts to work, you might think about some of these gigs in construction that offer low stress and decent money.

The average salary for a cost estimator is about $62,670. This job is for the nerd who also looks good in a hard hat. Budgeting, computer experience, and ability to use estimating software are the tools for this construction career. Cost estimators keep their hands clean by budgeting the cost of a project from start to finish. A bachelor’s degree in an industry-related field is the most common starting point, but the BLS predicts those with knowledge of Building Information Modeling software should have the strongest chances.

Marc Gores of San Diego graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in accounting last May, and found himself recruited by three construction companies before he finished his last class.

“I couldn’t believe that jobs in construction were even out there anymore,” he said. “I work in an office for most of the day, but there are times when I go out on site and I’m amazed at how things are really improving in this industry.”

Construction managers bring in about $93,900, but you need more than a tool belt to score this job. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in construction science, building science, or a related field.

Plumbers can haul in around $51,830 and glaziers — people who cut, install fasten and seal glass windows can easily make around $41,620.

Cement masons and concrete finishers rack up around $40,000 pouring and finishing concrete. While cement dries best in cities like San Diego, if you have this skill and own some snow boots, cement masons make around $75,000 in Alaska.

Painters can make an average salary of $39,000 and the good part is that you can do it without an expensive college degree. Becoming an electrician takes a bit more work and most states require you take a licensing exam before you work for yourself, but you can bring home about $53,000 for this craft.

Those with a knack for framing structures can expect around $44,000 a year. If you can speak both English and Spanish you might make a little more bread.

Construction workers were probably the hardest hit when the Great Recession rolled into California, but now that things are on the upswing again, jobs for day laborers who can dig ditches, operate equipment and clean up job sites are back in business. The pay is around $35,000 a year, but if you work hard and find you have a skill greater than using a shovel, you could apprentice for a plumber or carpenter and move up in the industry.

With these kinds of jobs you might even be able to afford to buy a house again. Or build one.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!