Pros and Cons of a Career in Home Building
As a home builder, also called a construction manager, you would manage workers and file documents, as well as get your hands dirty. Read on to see more of the pros and cons of a career as a home builder.
|Pros of a Home Builder Career|
|Average wages are high (a median annual salary of $86,000 as of May 2014)*|
|Managing multiple aspects of projects keeps the work fresh and interesting*|
|Seeing projects from beginning to end may result in a sense of accomplishment*|
|Certification and education is widely available*|
|Cons of a Home Builder Career|
|May deal with delays, emergencies and other unexpected occurrences*|
|Multi-tasking may be stressful*|
|Work hours may be long and unusual*|
|Workplace injuries can occur (4% of workers in the construction industry experienced some level of injury or illness in 2013)*|
|Work may depend on the economy*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job Description and Duties
Home builders, also called construction or project managers and general contractors, supervise the construction of residential homes. They are responsible for budgets, planning and deadlines. Job duties commonly include selecting materials, negotiating costs and supervising construction. In this position, you'll work with many contributors, including architects, electricians, carpenters and general laborers. You may also obtain licenses and work with attorneys.
Due to the many facets of the job, it's likely that you'll be kept on your toes. However, multi-tasking can be stressful, especially when something goes wrong. In the case of an emergency or delay, home builders must be ready to respond no matter the time or day. Making sure that deadlines are met, workers are safe and that budgets are followed can also be difficult aspects of the job.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that about 57% of home builders are self-employed. Working for yourself may provide additional freedom, but it also means that you'll need to network and generate your own business to stay afloat.
Home building can be a lucrative career. The BLS reported that in May 2014, the average yearly salary for construction managers was about $95,000. However, the median annual salary was about $86,000.
The job outlook for this field is projected to meet the national average at 16% from 2012-2022. Openings in the field will be due to the increasing population's need for homes as well as the retirement of existing contractors.
What Are the Requirements?
To work as a home builder, you'll need a high school diploma or GED and some experience. Your level of experience can vary from one employer to another. Increasingly, construction companies are seeking candidates with postsecondary education in construction science or engineering.
To be a successful home builder, you must be able to manage others, oversee finances and meet deadlines. Your communication skills must be strong since you'll be working with many parties to complete projects. You must also be flexible and able to work under pressure in order to handle emergencies and meet deadlines. Technical skills and the ability to interpret blueprints are also needed.
What Employers Are Looking for
Most employers seek home builders with some experience and the ability to coordinate multiple tasks. Take a look at the postings below, found in April 2012, to see what else employers were looking for.
- In New York City, a construction manager is sought to oversee bidding, ensure safety and document activities for both commercial and residential jobs. Applicants must have at least three years of experience and excellent communications skills.
- A home building company in West Virginia seeks a project manager to oversee home construction by providing customer service, coordinating projects and managing subcontractors. Candidates must have at least two years of construction management experience, be able to manage multiple projects and have an eye for detail.
- In Dallas, a builder is sought to manage the day-to-day schedules of multiple construction sites. Qualifications include management and home building experience. Candidates with some college or a college degree are preferred.
- In Pennsylvania, a project manager position is open for candidates with a minimum of five years experience and a college degree. Job duties include estimating costs, ordering materials and communicating with clients, sales representatives and subcontractors.
How to Make Your Skills Stand out
Since many employers favor candidates with post secondary education, you can stand out in the field by earning a degree in construction science or management, architecture or civil engineering. You may also choose to pursue a two-year degree. Coursework in construction-related majors includes construction planning, estimating and scheduling, materials, sustainability, systems management and accounting.
Increasingly, certification is an important factor in the employment of home builders. You can become a Certified Construction Manager (CCM) by meeting the education and experience requirements of the Construction Management Association of America and passing their exam. You may also become certified by the American Institute of Constructors. They offer two levels of certification. The first is the Associate Constructor certification which can be earned by candidates who are new to the field of construction. The second is for more experienced individuals who can become Certified Professional Constructors. Both certifications require you to pass an exam.
With a promising outlook of 24% growth between 2010-2020, a career in architecture may appeal to you if you enjoy planning and constructing buildings. In this career, you'll spend most of your time in an office working with clients and engineers to develop plans and draw blueprints for new structures. The median annual salary for an architect was $73,000 in May of 2011 and the outlook is very bright. To enter this field, you'll need a bachelor's degree or higher in architecture as well as practical training and a license.
While the outlook and salary of a civil engineer may not seem luring compared to those of a home builder, the ability to sculpt a skyline or change the experience of commuters, may appeal to you. As a civil engineer, you'll work on large-scale construction projects including roads, bridges and buildings. It's likely that you'll spend a good deal of time working at an office planning and analyzing, but you'll also perform on-site testing and oversight. A bachelor's degree is required for entry into this field and a graduate degree is usually necessary to advance. You'll also need a license. The median annual salary for civil engineers was about $78,000 in May 2011. Outlook is projected to reach 19% from 2010-2020.