The Trades

Research, insights and advice from craftsmen and industry experts

Complete Guide to a Career in Construction Engineering

Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) is a field for those who think big, and want to build big too. If you’ve ever wondered about how the country’s biggest buildings, airports, stadiums, highways, bridges, and dams are constructed, the short answer is thanks to those working in CEM.

The field of CEM covers a variety of roles in the construction industry. For some a career in CEM may mean working as a general contractor, overseeing a construction project broadly, while others choose to specialize in a specific area such as mechanical and electrical work. You may choose to work in a project management role for an owner or developer who is remaking the skylines of America’s cities or for companies in energy exploration and development—like oil and gas or renewable energies. 

CEM is not only varied in terms of employers and sectors of the economy, but also in terms of the skills it requires: engineering, design, management, and knowledge of local...

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What Is MEP Engineering?

construction trades Jul 03, 2020

Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers—known as “MEP” engineers—use scientific principles to design and build the functional and mechanical systems of a building. People in the architecture world like to think of MEP engineers as the builders and maintainers of a structure’s central nervous system. Every mechanical function that occurs in a building—from ensuring air flow and quality to planning electronic and communications systems, to laying out complex piping routes—is performed by an MEP engineer.

Often, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems are delivered in a bundle, even though different tradespeople execute the work. An MEP engineer must understand how each of the systems cooperates with and impacts the others. They must understand mechanics, fluids, heat transfer, chemistry, and electricity. And as houses grow smarter and more efficient, MEP engineers must also be ahead of the curve, developing smart lighting systems...

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How To Become a Contractor: Career Path, Salary, and Professional Tips from Builder Jordan Smith

The construction industry is incredibly exciting for those who are ambitious, entrepreneurial, and eager to see the fruit of their work in the real world. Job growth in construction is expected to be significantly above average in the near future, thanks to a significant gap between the number of workers employed in the sector and the need for them. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that employment within construction will grow by 10 percent over the next decade—and that’s coming on top of steady growth that started around 2010. 

Demand from both the public and private sectors fuels the construction industry. The United States must upgrade or replace aging infrastructural buildings, and incorporate the latest advances in construction materials and technology into existing buildings. The COVID-19 pandemic—while forcing a pause in the global economy—may also lead to new streams of construction work, as commercial and residential real estate will...

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The Trades: An Opportunity of a Lifetime

construction trades May 06, 2020

Industry Growth

Demand for trades and craftspeople has always been high.  According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of construction laborers is projected to grow 11% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average of all occupations (5.2%).  For specialized and experienced tradespeople, demand follows a similar pattern.  Job growth for electricians is 10%, for plumbers 14%, for weldsmen.  Demand for these workers is driven from new construction and the maintenance of existing buildings.

Shrinking Labor Force

In contrast, the supply of talented craftspeople is getting smaller and smaller.  In 2017, workers age 55 and older made up nearly a quarter of the construction and manufacturing workforce, a share that has increased by 15 percentage points in the last 25 years.  As these craftspeople retire, the “grey tsunami” will exacerbate labor shortages.  This “grey tsunami” is also worrisome since these...

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