Construction Feature Departments

Career Opportunity: Construction – Not Just a Job, a Long-Term Career

It is a strong contributor to Canada’s economy, the industry that touches the lives of every single person in the country – the construction industry.

This is the industry where apprentices get paid while they learn and are able to get started in their career without a huge pile of debt, where a shortage of skilled tradespeople means good job prospects, and where workers feel a sense of achievement as they build their communities around them. No wonder tradespeople are among the happiest workers in Canada, according to a recent report by Job Talks Canada.

“Skilled construction tradespeople build everything around us and provide the foundations for a strong economy,” says Bill Ferreira, Executive Director of BuildForce Canada, a national industry-led organization that provides accurate and timely labour market data and analysis, programs and initiatives to help all sectors of the construction industry manage their workforce requirements. “Tradespeople build our homes, workplaces, stores and retail spaces, entertainment centres, museums, airports, hospitals and schools. They also build our infrastructure, from roads and bridges, to subways and rail systems, electrical utilities, and sewer and water systems. Skilled tradespeople even build the infrastructure that supports the Internet and mobile phone communications.”

BuildForce is also the organization behind the Careers in Construction website,1 a comprehensive resource guide for anyone interested in exploring the diverse range of careers in the industry. With over 50 different career profiles, the website lets users narrow down their options based on type of construction (new home building and renovation, heavy industrial construction, institutional and commercial construction, engineering construction), location (cities and urban areas, remote locations), indoor/outdoor work, tool and equipment requirements (working with small hand tools, utilizing heavy equipment), travel, and whether or not working at heights will be necessary. Most of the career profiles have “job prospects” graphs that show how much the trade is expected to be in demand and in which provinces over the coming decade, and this information is updated annually.

“We work for the construction industry to determine labour market needs and solutions, so we know what major construction projects are being planned right across Canada for the next 10 years,” explains Ferreira. “That’s how we know what trades will be in demand and when. And that’s how we can help people pick a career that actually has jobs out there for them.”

Ferreira says that the Canadian construction industry particularly needs workers who are directly involved in skilled trades on construction sites, and overall the demand for workers will increase within the next ten years, with retirements accounting for over 260,000 job openings by 2028.

Not only does job satisfaction come from the gratification of seeing the results of your work at the end of each day, wages for construction workers can provide a comfortable living for their families.

According to information provided by BuildForce, wages for skilled tradespeople can vary from about $58,000 to $130,000 per year.

  • Carpenters up to around $66k
  • Construction estimators up to around $130k
  • Construction managers up to around $97k
  • Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics up to around $73k
  • Construction supervisors up to around $75k
  • Floor covering installers up to around $58k
  • Homebuilding and renovation managers, project managers up to around $95k
  • Gasfitters up to around $62k
  • Plumbers up to around $73k
  • Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics up to around $75k
  • Sheet metal workers up to around $73k
  • Steamfitters, pipefitters & sprinkler system installers up to around $81k

“These are upper averages. It can depend also on what part of the country you’re in and how much demand there is for your trade; overtime and benefits are additional; and it depends on where you are in your career – an apprentice will make a percentage of a fully qualified journeyperson’s wages, and each year of their apprenticeship they make more until they are fully qualified,” says Ferreira.

To be successful in their field, workers must have good manual dexterity and coordination, strong reading and math skills, creative problem-solving abilities, good communication skills, an understanding of work safety, the ability to work independently and as a member of a team, strong attention to detail, and a committed work ethic.

Once a tradesperson gets their certification, the sky’s the limit in terms of employment prospects. They can become their own bosses with employees of their own, or work for some of the country’s leading employers in the field. Their construction skills make them employable wherever they choose to live. Certified tradespeople have a wide range of opportunities to advance their careers by moving into supervisory and management positions, and areas such as training and education, administration, or health and safety.

Interesting work that pays well and will always be in demand, a flexible career and the ability to contribute in a tangible way to the world in which we live – the ingredients for a lifelong career in the construction industry.

Interesting facts about the industry:

  • The construction industry accounts for just over 7 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  • Since 2010, Canada’s annual GDP growth has average 2.4 percent for all industries and 2.9 percent for the construction industry.
  • Construction workers install, repair or renovate work worth $246 billion annually.
  • One out of 13 workers employed in Canada earns a living in the construction industry.
  • More than 1.4 million Canadian men and women have jobs in a wide variety of construction trades and professions.
  • The construction industry has more than 368,000 firms.
  • In the residential sector, nearly 70 percent of firms have fewer than five employees. In the non-residential sector, almost 50 percent have five employees or fewer.

By Jackie Fritz