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Career and Education Opportunities for Construction Workers in Chicago, Illinois

Many educational and employment opportunities exist for construction workers in the Chicago, Illinois area. There are currently 43,610 jobs for construction workers in Illinois and this is projected to grow 14% to about 49,850 jobs by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for construction workers, which sees this job pool growing by about 20.5% over the next eight years. In general, construction workers perform tasks involving physical labor at building, highway, and heavy construction projects, tunnel and shaft excavations, and demolition sites.

A person working as a construction worker can expect to earn about $18 hourly or $37,720 per year on average in Illinois and about $13 hourly or $28,520 yearly on average in the U.S. as a whole. Earnings for construction workers are not quite as good as earnings in the general category of General Construction in Illinois and not quite as good as general General Construction category earnings nationally.

There are 180 schools of higher education in the Chicago area, including two within twenty-five miles of Chicago where you can get a degree to start your career as a construction worker. The most common level of education for construction workers is a high school diploma or GED. You can expect to spend only a short time studying to be a construction worker if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Construction Worker

Construction Worker video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, construction workers perform tasks involving physical labor at building, highway, and heavy construction projects, tunnel and shaft excavations, and demolition sites. They also may operate hand and power tools of all types: air hammers, earth tampers, cement mixers, small mechanical hoists, surveying and measuring equipment, and a variety of other equipment and instruments.

Every day, construction workers are expected to be able to lift, push and move large and heavy objects. They need to use lower back and abdominal strength. It is also important that they move quickly in order to hold onto or control objects and devices.

It is important for construction workers to measure and record openings and distances to mark areas where construction work will be performed. They are often called upon to clean and ready construction sites to remove possible hazards. They also control traffic passing near and around work zones. They are sometimes expected to load and identify building materials and tools, and distribute them to the appropriate locations, in line with project plans and specifications. Somewhat less frequently, construction workers are also expected to grind or polish surfaces such as concrete or wood flooring, using abrasive tools or machines.

Construction workers sometimes are asked to set up sewer and storm drain pipes, using pipe-laying machinery and laser guidance equipment. They also have to be able to mix ingredients to generate compounds for covering or cleaning surfaces and use computers and other input devices to operate robotic pipe cutters and cleaners. And finally, they sometimes have to spray materials such as water or stucco through hoses to wash or seal surfaces.

Like many other jobs, construction workers must be thorough and dependable and be reliable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Chicago include:

  • Bricklayer Helper. Help brickmasons, blockmasons, or tile and marble setters by performing duties of lesser skill. Duties include using, supplying or holding materials or tools, and cleaning work area and equipment.
  • Building Inspector. Inspect structures using engineering skills to determine structural soundness and compliance with specifications, building codes, and other regulations. Inspections may be general in nature or may be limited to a specific area, such as electrical systems or plumbing.
  • Highway Maintenance Worker. Maintain highways, municipal and rural roads, airport runways, and rights-of-way. Duties include patching broken or eroded pavement, repairing guard rails, highway markers, and snow fences. May also mow or clear brush from along road or plow snow from roadway.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Construction Worker Training

Lincoln College of Technology - Melrose Park, IL

Lincoln College of Technology, 8317 W North Avenue, Melrose Park, IL 60160-1605. Lincoln College of Technology is a small college located in Melrose Park, Illinois. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 803 students and an admission rate of 100%. Lincoln College of Technology has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Construction Trades, Other Specialties which graduated 124 and twenty-one students respectively in 2008.

Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest - Gary, IN

Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest, 1440 E 35th Ave, Gary, IN 46409-1499. Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest is a medium sized college located in Gary, Indiana. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 5,701 students. Ivy Tech Community College-Northwest has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Construction Trades, Other Specialties which graduated three and five students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Associate Constructor: The goal of the Constructor Certification process is to provide a voluntary, non-governmental certification designation.

For more information, see the American Institute of Constructors website.

Electrical & Instrumentation Pipeline Technician: Topics covered on exam include: Pipeline E & I Safety, Electrical Theory & General Knowledge, Inspect Test and Calibrate Pressure Switches and Transmitters, Test Overfill Protective Devices, Inspect and Calibrate Overfill Protective Devices, Verify or Set Protection Parameters for Programmable Controllers and/or other Instrumentation Control Loops, Actuator/Operator Adjustment, CPM Leak Detection, Maintain Fixed Gas Detection Equipment.

For more information, see the National Center for Construction Education and Research website.

Certification in Construction Materials - Asphalt: This certification program was designed for field and laboratory technicians engaged specifically in the testing and inspection of construction materials.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Certification in Construction Materials - Concrete: This certification program was designed for field and laboratory technicians engaged in the testing and inspection of construction materials.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Certification in Construction Materials - Soils: This certification program was designed for field and laboratory technicians engaged in the testing and inspection of construction materials.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Stormwater and Wastewater System Inspection: This certification program is designed for engineering technicians engaged in the inspection of stormwater and wastewater systems and is applicable to both private and public sector technicians.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Environmental Technician: NREP provides an Environmental Registry listing for individuals conducting environmental technician job functions.

For more information, see the National Registry of Environmental Professionals website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois photo by Dschwen

Chicago is situated in Cook County, Illinois. It has a population of over 2,853,114, which has shrunk by 1.5% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Chicago, 114, is well above the national average. New single-family homes in Chicago are valued at $200,500 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, three hundred eighty-one new homes were built in Chicago, down from eight hundred seventy the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Chicago are health care, educational services, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is construction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and accommodation and food services. The average commute to work is about 35 minutes. More than 25.5% of Chicago residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 10.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Chicago is 11.6%, which is greater than Illinois's average of 10.5%.

The percentage of Chicago residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 57.6%, is more than both the national and state average. Southlawn United Methodist Church, Southern Missionary Baptist Church and Lakeside Evangelical Church are all churches located in Chicago. The most common religious groups are the Catholic Church, the Muslim Estimate and the Lutheran Church.

Chicago is home to the Five Crossings and the Wrigley Field as well as Monticello Park and Wilson Playground. Shopping centers in the area include Lincoln Village Shopping Center, Market Place at Six Corners Shopping Center and Kimbark Plaza Shopping Center. Visitors to Chicago can choose from Extended Stay America, Embassy Suites Lakefront and Cottage Inn for temporary stays in the area.