Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, you don’t need to go to college to find a rewarding career. I am not quite sure where that idea started in our society, but I know it’s still around. I think back to my high school days and how, when senior year rolled around, I had that meeting everyone scheduled with the high school counselor. I remember the counselor asking me directly what I wanted to study in college as if that was my only option. The same thing happened with my own kids during their high school experience all those years later.
Fact is, for many people, college isn’t for them – and that doesn’t mean they won’t be successful. While college is valuable and required for many careers, it is expensive and it takes years to complete. Yet, there are many satisfying and lucrative careers for which college simply is not needed.
My title is the president of construction at Homestead Companies, which is a fully integrated real estate company with in-house development, property and construction management. In 2021, our company had more than $200 million worth of new construction contracts in place.
I lead a team of 17 that manages the construction process for our company’s projects. We ensure skilled labor is hired, materials are sourced, and projects get done safely and on time. We have several high-level supervisors that do great work for our company and our clients, none of whom has a college degree.
No college textbook or lecture that can get you ready for a construction worksite. What people in construction need is time in the field, along with a passion for the work.
When I interview candidates for our jobs, I never look at the bottom of the resume where education is usually listed. I want to know – can you problem solve, can you think outside the box, and does your personality fit within our culture? Education doesn’t address those questions. With these parameters, we have several people at our company making six-figure salaries.
Right now is a golden opportunity for those who have ever considered a career in construction:
Development is driving demand
All over the country, development continues at a rapid rate, but the construction side can’t keep up. Data from the Associated Builders and Contractors says the industry needs 650,000 additional construction workers to meet the rising demand.
Workers are getting older
Not only is development driving the need for workers, but a large share of the industry’s workforce is reaching retirement age. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22 percent of our workers are 55 or older.
Salaries are going up
Over the past few years, wages in the construction industry have grown due to supply and demand. Analysts are expecting the pay growth to continue to increase along with the growing need for workers.
Getting started in construction is quite easy, especially in Ohio where Homestead is headquartered. Ohio has the second largest registered apprenticeship system in the country. Apprenticeship programs allow workers without any prior experience learn the trade. Not only are these programs free, but the apprentices are paid for their on-the-job training and receive additional benefits. While many of their peers start their careers in debt from college, apprentices enter the field ahead.
The need for construction isn’t going to slow anytime soon. The jobs are available and so are the opportunities to ascend into leadership roles. College is a great option for many – but it’s certainly not the only one to build a career you can be proud of.
—John Brinich, president of construction at Homestead Companies.