If you are interested in building houses, there are many types of jobs you can get, such as carpenter, general contractor, developer or superintendent. The path to each of these careers is a combination of completing a degree program or apprenticeship and obtaining the right experience or on-the-job training. In most cases, completing a formal degree program is not actually necessary, and many get their start in the field through an apprenticeship.
Those interested in specializing in a building trade such as carpentry or electrical work and who want the structure of a formal program can complete a degree, diploma or certificate program. Most degree programs are associate degrees offered at community colleges. An associate degree in carpentry, for example, typically takes two years to complete, though some accelerated programs are available. The curriculum covers the basics of carpentry, such as basic skills, framing, siding and roofing, as well as understanding local codes and electrical work. Diploma programs are typically shorter in length -- usually about a year -- and focus more on basic construction skills.
Building contractors supervise building projects, including the planning and budgeting. They typically are in charge of hiring the workers to complete a building project, though they may be trained in one aspect of construction themselves, such as carpentry or electrical work. Because of the increased responsibility and skills required of a general contractor, a bachelor's degree in construction management is usually preferred. However, some construction workers or other tradesmen who have considerable industry experience can work their way up to becoming a contractor. Most states require contractors to pass a licensing exam -- regardless of formal education -- to practice in the state.
A construction superintendent oversees every aspect of the building process, from the actual construction to the planning and financing. Superintendents work on site, and they manage employees while also making important decisions about the project. Like contractors, construction superintendents typically get a bachelor's degree in construction management, but they can also rely on their experience to get the job. Superintendents must be licensed in many states, as well.
Real Estate Developer
Real estate developers invest in new properties that they can lease out or sell for a profit. Developers work with contractors and superintendents to bring a project to fruition. Developers can get their start in real estate sales or construction. Some developers earn advanced degrees in real estate development or general degrees such as an MBA. However, many developers get their positions by simply working their way up from entry-level real estate or construction jobs.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Carpenters
- Pima Community College: Home Maintenance and Repair: General Residential Contractor
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Construction Managers
- Delhi State University of New York: Carpentry -- Associate Degree
- Cuyahoga Community College: Carpentry Program at Tri-C
- UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School: Real Estate Education
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