The building materials industry is booming, and there’s a bigger need than ever for skilled workers and construction professionals. To meet the demands of home and building owners today, many companies are hiring and growing their teams.
The world of construction is an evolving one: Here are 10 top careers in the industry and what’s required if you’re interested in jumping into this exciting environment.
Top Jobs in Construction Today
The U.S. Census reported in June 2021 that privately‐owned housing starts in May were 3.6% above April’s numbers. Perhaps more surprising is that this year’s rate is 50.3% above the May 2020 rate of new projects.
Those climbing numbers mean there are more jobs available, too, all across the building materials sector. From the design process to site clean-up, the industry needs people to help out. Here are 10 positions in high demand.
1) Building Materials Specifier
A materials specifier on a project is a true resource to their team. Responsibilities range from writing specs to retaining client-specific building standards to researching new safety requirements and building materials.
Many companies will require that a specifier has a degree and related work experience in construction, along with a CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) certification. Because of the time required for researching products and understanding current building code requirements, specifiers need to be proficient in written and verbal communication. The job also requires a familiarity with specification software programs like MasterSpec or SpecText.
Specifiers often act as the point person between product manufacturers and other project stakeholders. They’ll need to be able to manage those responsibilities and communication between teams, especially when it comes to meeting the client’s standards and project requirements. The average salary for a specifier is around $60,000 in the U.S.
2) Custom Home Builder
Single-family project starts are on the rise, and the need for custom designs is also in high demand. Custom builders are hiring for team members today, and there’s a big need for onsite labor, project managers, and field superintendents to help move projects along.
Home construction is a labor-intensive job, and it requires job candidates to be able to lift heavy objects and climb ladders. Construction specialists' salary averages to $48,285 but depends on experience and location.
Managerial positions — like project superintendents or design team members — will require a degree in a related field and experience in construction. Pay averages $79,031 per year, depending on experience and location.
3) Materials Engineer
To accommodate the changing needs of the construction industry, new building products are always being tested, and existing products are refined to meet new standards.
A product or materials engineer handles just that: They’re responsible for designing and testing new products and building product prototypes.
The materials engineer possesses both creative and logical skill sets. You’ll need to demonstrate a passion for innovating on designs and creating new products, and you’ll need to understand how those products should be engineered to meet industry standards.
Product and materials engineers often help with technical writing and act as a resource to their team when it comes to material knowledge. Advanced math and reading skills are required, and a minimum of an associate’s degree in manufacturing or engineering is preferred, along with experience in the industry. The average salary for a materials engineer is around $87,159 in the United States.
Whether it’s masonry work or window replacements, the construction industry is always hiring installers to get those projects done.
The installer works with the materials specified on a job: They’re responsible for positioning and securing products on a project. Because of the variety of materials on the market, many employers will train installers (or provide an apprenticeship) for the type of work and any specific products you’re working with.
Getting hired for this position requires some experience in construction or remodeling, usually up to 3 years. You’ll be required to work with tools and machinery, and you should be able to lift and handle heavy materials. The average salary for an installer is around $43,787 a year.
5) CDL Driver
The building industry is no stranger to crises, especially when it comes to the supply chain. While delays are always expected on construction projects, those delays are at an all-time high these days. Many companies are hiring drivers to help bring solutions to their customers.
To put it simply, the driver's role is to deliver building materials to customers. But a driver does so much more on a typical workday. Those tasks include:
Daily inspection before deliveries to start transporting materials to and from locations, on time and in accordance with project deadlines
Safely unloading materials at job sites, often with a forklift
Keeping consistent records of deliveries, signatures, mileage, etc.
Frequent communication and attention to customers, including any complaints or concerns that might come up during the job
Requirements for drivers include a Class A or B CDL license, a good driving record, and the ability to handle up to 100 pounds of materials. A forklift license or training can also be required. The average driver’s pay is estimated at $24 an hour, depending on experience and location.
6) Forklift Operator/Yard Associate
Building materials suppliers have to keep up with customer demand, and that requires a dedicated team to help with deliveries and loading products. Forklift operators and yard associates keep this process running smoothly, and many companies are hiring for these team members. Yard associates also help customers take product to and load their trucks as well.
There are physical requirements for this position, since you’ll be helping with handling products, and associates will have to be able to push, pull, and pick up items weighing up to 100 pounds. A yard associate is a team player and will need to be able to communicate and contribute to the team.
There are some physical risks in a lumber yard, and these associates will need to work with safety in mind. The average pay for forklift operators is $14.00 per hour, depending on experience.
7) Materials Estimator
Another part of the building materials team is the estimator, who supports the sales team with material lists and helping out with product takeoffs.
The estimator is also a client-facing position and helps to determine the project needs and recommends specific products and solutions for the job. If there are design changes on a project (which there often are), an estimator can address and resolve any issues that might come up.
An estimator will need experience in sales or product installation, and some proficiency with estimating tools and software like AutoCAD or ProEst. The average salary for an estimator is around $58,070 in the U.S.
With the number of projects and employees on the rise for construction firms, there’s also a growing need for administrative positions, like Human Resources and Payroll associates.
These individuals handle the record-keeping, file maintenance, and coordinate the hiring and training of employees. They help to keep the business running, and these positions require candidates with good time management skills and a team player attitude. Written and oral communication skills are a must since these individuals will likely interface with employees or customers. Most positions require familiarity with Microsoft Office.
9) Fireproofing Consultant
With wildfire seasons ramping up earlier every year, the need for resilient, fire-safe homes and buildings is a must. Fireproofing consultants and engineers are an important part of the building materials ecosystem.
These professionals provide solutions for fireproof design and are a point person between code jurisdiction authorities and their customers on many projects. Fireproofing consultants review and test existing fire safety systems, and help with solutions for new life safety systems in a building.
The job requirements for a fireproofing consultant often include a Bachelor's or equivalent work experience, and certification in fire protection and engineering. The salary for a fire protection consultant averages around $85,468 in the United States.
10) Building Materials Salesperson
A sales representative might be one of the most sought-after positions on this list. These professionals help to cultivate relationships with customers and are responsible for growing a company’s client base.
The sales team is responsible for communication with a wide range of people across a project — from educating customers to working with dispatch teams on delivery, the salesperson often wears many hats in their position.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual pay for a salesperson is a little over $65,000 a year — and many earn much more with commissions.
Growing As An Industry
Many building materials companies are hiring in an effort to keep up with the growing demand for new homes and remodels. To keep things running smoothly, a wide variety of skills are needed. There’s a lot of different opportunities in the construction industry, and it’s exciting to see how it will continue to evolve and grow.
Talbert Building Supply is committed to supporting the growth of this industry by offering products and services to help with your next project. Our dedication to delivering what we call the Talbert Difference for service and high-quality products makes us the supplier of choice for many area contractors, builders, remodelers, and DIYers.
If you’d like to be a part of delivering exceptional service and value to our customers and think you have what it takes, you might consider joining our team!