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It’s Time to Take Another Look at Career Opportunities in the Building Trades

Careers in Construction Month 2021

At a time when countless college graduates are finding they are underemployed and saddled with crushing student debt, it is time for educators and policymakers to reexamine the widely held belief that a college degree represents the only road to success.

The building trades offer a great career path. Regrettably, fewer students are seeking careers in the construction industry because many parents and guidance counselors are steering them toward a college pathway rather than a vocational route.

This is particularly unfortunate, given the shortage of skilled workers in the residential construction industry and the fact that carpenters, electricians, framers, roofers and others in the field earn good salaries and express high job satisfaction.

Indeed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics Survey data and analysis by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), half of payroll workers in construction earn more than $47,290. In comparison, the U.S. median wage is $38,640. See how Ohio salaries compare across the board.

The labor shortages can be attributed in part to the fact that many skilled residential construction workers were forced to seek employment elsewhere during the Great Recession, when more than 1.4 million jobs were lost as builders across the nation were forced to shutter their doors or lay off workers. Many trades retrained their construction workers and they are not returning to the housing sector.

With the nationwide housing recovery now picking up steam, it is imperative that America trains more workers and leaders in the construction industry. The number of open construction sector jobs in July 2019 was 373,000 and the overall trend for open construction jobs has been increasing since the end of the Great Recession.

The problem is particularly acute here throughout the Dayton region. Labor shortages are harming our local builders, raising prices for consumers and slowing the housing recovery. The need for more housing and a diverse housing stock accentuates the role housing plays in economic development strategies for the region. Builders have experienced delays in completing homes, and in some cases have had to cancel projects due to a shortage of workers. These delays and production bottlenecks are increasing the cost of building a home here locally, which in turn is raising costs for home buyers and harming affordability.

To meet the housing needs of a growing population, attitudes must change. Parents, teachers, counselors and students need to understand and believe that a vocational education is just as worthwhile as a conventional four-year college and that both routes offer satisfying career paths and financial gains. Academic institutions can aid in this effort by funding and promoting more two- and four-year programs that cater to students interested in construction management and the building trades.

For more information about career training opportunities throughout the Dayton region visit or

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