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Construction Trades - Overview


Programs in construction trades prepare people to use various types of skills to build, inspect, or repair structures. For example, students may focus on masonry, drywall installing, or painting. They also learn to use tools, read blueprints, and inspect their work.

One of the most basic human needs is shelter. Stone Age families built shelters by stripping trees to make poles, bracing the poles with rings of stone, tying them together at the top with leather thongs or braided vines, and covering them with animal skins. Smoke from the central fire exited at the top where the poles joined. These days, construction methods are far more complex, and the number of shelters built annually has increased enormously too. Today around eight million people work in the construction trades in the U.S. alone, making it one of our largest industries.

In construction trades programs, you learn all aspects of how to build a house or building. You learn basic principles of math, physics, and engineering. You then learn how to transfer these concepts into assembling walls, foundations, and roofs into a strong structure that will last. In addition, you learn how to work with wood, metal, and other materials. You also learn how electrical and plumbing systems work and how they are installed. Many programs also teach you business skills such as budgeting and management. This will help you keep track of the amount of time and money each project takes.

Most construction trades workers learn in apprenticeships that take four to five years after high school. Apprentices complete a set number of classroom hours and receive training on the job. You begin working as a helper and gradually advance your skills. After completing the apprenticeship, you may get trade certification or licensing.

In addition, many private vocational schools and community colleges offer short programs in construction trades. Many community colleges also offer one-year certificate and two-year associate degree programs. Often these programs are part of larger apprenticeship programs.

In addition, some high schools coordinate vocational programs with community colleges. This allows high school students to take construction courses before they graduate. In some cases, they are prepared for entry-level work after they receive their high school diploma.

Some of the best-known construction trades are:

• Bricklayers and stonemasons
• Carpenters
• Carpet installers
• Concrete masons
• Drywall workers
• Electricians
• Glaziers
• Insulation workers
• Painters and paperhangers
• Plasterers
• Plumbers and pipefitters
• Roofers
• Sheet metal workers
• Tile setters

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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