The average U.S. driver travels 39 miles per day, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That means our highways play a critical role in the economy.
For all of this to happen, the country needs skilled highway construction workers to keep our roads functioning. Maybe you’re interested in becoming one.
If so, you can start your journey by reading the information below. We’ve included everything that you need to know about this career so that you can figure out whether it’s a good fit for you or not.
Let’s get into it.
What is a heavy highway construction trade job?
Heavy highway construction is a field that focuses on building and maintaining important American infrastructure. An individual in this field could work on roads, bridges, ports, and other non-building structures.
People with this job are also sometimes called highway maintenance workers since some professionals in this space focus mostly on maintenance tasks.
Both careers can be a good option if you’re interested in working on roads. The key difference is that you may not need any post-secondary training to become a highway maintenance worker, but you’ll likely need some if you want to get into heavy highway construction.
What a heavy highway construction trade job involves
Heavy highway construction workers make an average of $43,200 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s just above the average salary for someone without a college degree in the United States, which is roughly $40,000.
That being said, there are some things that you can do to increase your earning potential in this industry.
Generally, the more training that you get, the more valuable that you become to employers. So even if you don’t technically need to complete an apprenticeship or an associate’s degree to get into this field, doing so could help you earn more once you do.
Where you’re located can also have a big impact on how much you make. The general rule of thumb is that workers located in areas with high costs of living (like big cities) tend to make more.
There’s no way around it: working conditions for heavy highway construction workers can often be tough.
These professionals spend their days entirely outside, which can be uncomfortable during the summer when the weather is hot and the winter when it’s cold.
Additionally, if you enter this line of work, you’ll spend your days working on roads – many of which will still have traffic. This carries some risk and is something you might want to consider before choosing this career.
You may also have to work on weekends or at odd hours if you get assigned to construction jobs that are happening on busy roadways.
Many highway construction workers have a normal 9:00 – 5:00-type schedule. However, this often largely depends on who employs you and the types of jobs that you get assigned to.
Becoming a highway construction worker
Are you still interested in becoming a heavy high construction worker after learning some more about the job? If so, we’ll tell you how to do it in this section.
HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
The first thing you need to do to enter into this line of work is to earn your high school diploma. Employers want to make sure that you have a baseline level of competency, and having a diploma proves this to them.
But if you don’t have a standard diploma, that’s okay. You can also satisfy this requirement by earning a G.E.D. Do that, and you should be qualified for at least some entry-level highway maintenance jobs.
If you want to focus more on highway construction than maintenance, then you may need to pursue some post-secondary training.
There are two main options here.
The first is to complete an associate’s degree or a certification program at a local school. These schools often have relationships with local employers, so doing well in your program may make it much easier for you to find a good job once you graduate.
Or maybe you’re not interested in going back to school. In that case, looking for an apprenticeship could be a good move. You can find these with industry associations, unions, and sometimes through local technical schools.
Apprenticeships involve working directly with experienced heavy highway construction workers so that you can learn the ropes through hands-on training. Lots of industrial jobs offer apprenticeships, including electricians and field & service techs.
Finally, you may also want to look into getting certified if you’re hoping to enter into a niche area of highway construction. For example, maybe your dream is to work on bridges. If so, earning a certification for bridge construction and maintenance could help you turn that dream into a reality.
Pros and cons of this career
Becoming a heavy highway construction worker could be the perfect move for your career, or, it could not be the best choice for you. Your answer will in part depend on how you feel about the following pros and cons.
GET OUT OF THE OFFICE
Many people who choose an industrial career do so because they don’t want to spend their entire life in an office. That’s certainly not something you’ll have to do if you become a heavy highway construction worker.
These employees spend their days outside. When the weather is nice, this can be a really enjoyable experience and may help the day move by faster than it would if you were sitting in an office building.
WORK WITH YOUR HANDS
Heavy highway construction is also a good career for anyone who enjoys working with their hands. When you pick this profession, you’ll spend the vast majority of your days doing exactly that.
BUILD SOMETHING THAT WILL LAST
Finally, if you’re looking for a job that can give you a sense of purpose, this could be it. As a heavy highway construction worker, you’ll get to be part of creating the next era of American infrastructure.
The roads, bridges, and ports that you work on will be used by people every day for years and years. Talk about leaving a legacy!
WORKING CONDITIONS CAN BE TOUGH
Perhaps the biggest downside to this career is the potential for rough working conditions. You’ll spend your days outside, regardless of what the weather is like. This means you could have a lot of very hot or very cold days in your future if you choose to pursue this career.
POTENTIAL FOR WORKING ODD HOURS
Another thing to consider is that you may have to work at night or on the weekends if you pick this job. If that’s something that you really don’t want to do, then you may want to look elsewhere for a career.
JOB CAN BE DANGEROUS
One last thing to keep in mind before picking this line of work is the fact that it can be dangerous. As a heavy highway construction worker, you’ll work on roads, bridges, and ports while they’re being used. That opens you up to the possibility of potential injury.
That’s not to say that you’re definitely going to get hurt if you choose this career — most professionals don’t. However, you should be realistic about the increased chances of injury that you have as a heavy highway construction worker.
The bottom line: Should you become a heavy highway construction worker?
Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not this career is a good fit for you. If you’re looking to find a job that lets you create something that will last long after you’re gone, then this could be it.
But there are also some downsides to this type of work, including the possibility of injury and potentially unpleasant working conditions.
The best strategy for making a decision is to weigh the pros against the cons. Think about whether you can live with the cons and how valuable you find the pros. Then, do your best to make a decision with that information.
Rock the Trades makes it easier to get started as a heavy highway construction worker
Now you know everything that you need to know to figure out whether this job is right for you. If you think it is, then Rock the Trades is here to help you get started with it.
Our app automatically connects you with employers in your area who are looking for job applicants with your skills. It’s the simplest way to find a heavy highway construction job that you’re happy with.So why wait? You can take the first step towards getting started with this career by downloading the RTT app today. We look forward to helping you find your next job.