Employment in the Construction Industry for Veterans

Many of our nation’s veterans are taking off their helmets and putting on hard hats. For some veterans, construction is the perfect industry to seek employment after transitioning out of the military. Qualities such as leadership, integrity, and teamwork are instilled into military members during their service, and these qualities — combined with veterans’ accelerated learning curve, understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion, respect for procedures and rules, and knowledge in technology and globalization — allow for veterans to seamlessly transition into many different professions. In particular, veterans’ ability to perform efficiently under pressure and their awareness of health and safety standards make them ideal candidates for jobs in the construction industry.

Although the pandemic diminished job opportunities in construction, the availability of jobs in this industry are on the rise. In March 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 110,000 new construction jobs and the jobless rate in the industry improved from February’s levels. According to an Association of Builders and Contractors report published in late March 2021, the construction industry will need to hire 430,000 craft professionals this year.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the following positions and annual salary ranges are in the highest demand in the construction industry:

  • Construction Project Manager: $87,400 – $95,260
  • Plumber: $50,620 – $55,160
  • Electrician:$55,190 – $56,180
  • Solar Photovoltaic Installers: $42,680 – $44,890
  • Glazier: $39,440 – $44,630
  • Painter: $36,580 – $40,280
  • Mason: $37,740 – $53,100

Some of these positions require experience and/or education. For example, being a Construction Project Manager usually requires a college degree and/or additional experience. While formal education is not required, construction wages may be lower without a formal education.

It’s also important to know the areas and locations where these jobs are needed. For example, the southern United States has less of a need for individuals in the construction field, so those states are less likely to need construction workers. The states with the best construction jobs based on average salary and available construction jobs compared to the population for that state are as follows:

  • New Hampshire
  • Connecticut
  • Washington
  • California
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • North Dakota
  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • Idaho

In addition, there are challenges in the construction profession that one must consider. Construction workers can work long hours and are outside in the elements at all times of the year. Further, the job market may be seasonal, meaning that the number of available jobs may drop and unemployment for this industry may increase during months with bad weather in some regions. Additionally, the jobs are typically physically demanding and workers in this industry should not be afraid of heights. The physical demand of the construction industry makes transitioning service members a great fit because they are accustomed to getting the job done in various conditions and environments.

Additional resources to find construction jobs for veterans include:

  • Apprenticeship.gov: Employers in the skilled trades sector face complex workforce challenges in increasingly competitive domestic and global markets. Apprenticeships are a proven solution for recruiting, training, and retaining world-class skilled trades talent. For information about industry apprenticeships, please view the NVTI webinar, Introduction to Apprenticeships: Encouraging Veteran Apprenticeships.
  • The National Center for Construction Education and Research created a program called Hard Hat Hero’s Initiative to give transitioning veterans free certifications for the construction industry. The site also includes links to construction companies committed to hiring veterans.
  • Veterans Build America is a website dedicated to bringing military veteran job seekers and construction employers together via Orion Talent LLC.
  • Helmets to Hardhats is a national nonprofit program that connects transitioning active-duty military service members, veterans, and reservists with skilled training and quality career opportunities in the construction industry.