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good-logic-10There are a wide variety of construction skills that can be learned and applied at home or on the job.  Learning new skills and expanding on your existing skills is a great way to increase your earning power.

Construction skills are a mixture of two things; Knowledge & Experience.

1) Knowledge is the understanding of how things go together and what you should be doing. With more experience you will gain more knowledge of methods, tools and ideas.

2) Experience is the practiced skill to perform the activity based on your knowledge. Experience is perishable in the sense that if you don’t practice it regularly you will get  “rusty” as they put it.

 

In these lists I will group skills into a certain trades or skill sets that would be appropriate for a construction worker to learn as a package unit. If you want more information try searching the internet for the category and I’m sure there is tons of information. I’m just giving you a general idea of skill sets available for you to learn.

 

Laborer

Laborers must be familiar with job site etiquette including asking the supervisor what needs to be done. Their main skill is making themselves useful. Often the more they offer to help the lighter the work load they will receive as skilled tradesmen will often request their help for technical jobs. Laborers need to bring their own gloves, goggles and masks. They need to understand how to use basic construction tools and know when to ask for help.

Framing & Carpentry Rough

Rough carpentry is understanding structural requirements of a building made from lumber. The skills include use of wood working tools such as a circular saw, compressor/ nail gun and an impact driver for lag bolts. Rough carpenters need to know the construction codes for framing so they can quickly assemble large structural features. These can be learned from a book or by examining diagrams. They also must know how to properly prepare framing for other trades such as correct rough opening sizes or creates backing for drywall. This is usually learned on the job.

Finish Carpentry & Decorating

Finished carpentry is installing moldings, doors, maybe some windows or flooring, handrails, trellis, etc . Finish carpentry is focused on exposed wood as you can probably determine. The job skills are patience and a good eye for style and appearance of finished work. Finish carpenters are often one of the last trades on the job and they install all the detail items and hide any errors left behind from other trades. They use table saws, compound miter saws, jigsaws, chisels and pneumatic staple or nail guns to name a few. They often assist general contractors in installing uncommon or non trade specific items because of their wide range in skills and common sense for making an installation look good.

 

Flooring

Flooring installers often don’t have the skills to install every type of floor but some do. They should develop these skills because so many of them are identical to one another. Flooring installers need to understand minor code issues relating to trip hazards or baseboard height requirements.  Materials installed include, floor leveling materials, carpet, tile or stone and laminate or VCT. Installing flooring is fairly easy in the knowledge department because the tool are very basic. The experience to make the installation look good however takes some practice. Some materials like VCT and carpet squares are easier to install. Carpet and no grout stonework however must be learned from someone experienced on the job.

Welding/Fabricating

This category could be huge. In the residential or light commercial sector the skills are dominated by fencing  or handrails & staircases. In the heavy industrial the work involves piping and equipment platforms etc. The skill set for a welder understanding the types of welding processes.  Welders for residential welding companies often need little more than a god book and some one the job training. Industrial welders usually have some welding experience and need further classes or certification to install heavy equipment which will need x-ray inspection and the durability required by application.

Dywall/Metal Stud/Insulation

There are many companies that specialize in just one of these trades. However as an individual you should learn all three to increase your employment opportunity. Metal stud is usually non structural framing for office or residential remodel. It involves creating a light framework to attach drywall too. Insulating and then attaching sheet rock and apply tapping or texture coat. The process is often so quick that one person does all these things. The tool are snips or a metal saw to cut the metal studs, a screw gun and some taping tools.

Painter

Painting is the trade with the widest experience gap of any trade because there are experts who can mix chemicals to make any paint or stain desired and there are unemployed people who pick up a brush and become painters. Painting is about keeping a clean work space, properly apply a number of patching compounds to hide surface defects and the properly applying a paint/primer or stain. Painting tools include taping knifes and trowels for repairing damaged surfaces. They also include HVLP or airless sprayers.

Plumbing

Plumbers need to understand the varying mechanics of plumbing system. They can go to school or get experience on the job for this. Their skills include drawing isometrics for the purpose of calculating drainage as well as calculating flow requirements for incoming fixtures. The work with copper pipe either soldering or crimping the pipe. Plastic pipe either gluing or crimping. They also work with steel pipe or iron pipe threading and fitting them. Plumbers also must understand how to assemble a wide variety of fixtures related to plumbing including water heaters, fire sprinkler systems, lavatories etc.

H.V.A.C. 

Heating, Vacuum and Air conditioning is a mechanical skill set related to building interior temperature and in some cases manufacturing. The wide skill set of the hvac installer can help in many categories of equipment installation. The skills include understanding and building ducting systems. Sheet metal fabrication. Different types of connections  for refrigerant lines. Low voltage wiring or minor electrical. Minor plumbing and soldering like condensate drainage and soldering or crimping copper tube. Vacuum testing and chemical refrigerant input or capturing.

Electrician

Electricians are responsible for installing and also understanding the installations to insure that electrical power is provided safely and with enough power to meet the requirements of the system. Electricians need to understand important codes relating wire sizes to the sizes of breaker or equipment in the same system. Electricians of use hand tools to cut and prepare wire. They also use screw guns to attach fixtures and boxes or conduit. Minor mood or metal stud work is required to pass wires through wall cavities. Electricians working must be certified in California however they can learn from a school or as an assistant on the job.

Low Voltage

Low voltage is a newer construction trade involving data communication which can include non electrical installations such as wireless or fiber optic. Low voltage installers are often meeting the requirements of a computer system and must understand how to correctly make connections. Hand tools are primarily used as well as a detailed plan. Larger low voltage jobs often require an eye for detail and numerous labels as large bundles of cables installed.

Concrete/Masonry

Concrete and masonry work may involve digging, framing concrete forms, installing rebar or and finishing concrete surfaces. Tools such as shovels and picks, rebar benders and cutters, circular saw and special forming nails and a variety of trowels can be expected as the concrete workers dig out a footing and build a wooden frame to create the concretes shape.  Concrete workers sometimes mix cement with other ingredients and must know about the different types of mixes they mix or order from the concrete yard by truck. The skills include rough framing and building concrete molds as well as finishing the concrete surface. Masonry requires many of the same skills and includes building walls with different types of masonry units.

Landscape

Landscape is focused on planting and irrigation. Maintenance is also a big part of this trade. Skills include understanding how to layout an aesthetic landscape and maintain it with proper pruning. How and when to plant certain types of plants and irrigation systems. Landscaper must understand soil types as well as signals from the plants appearance about its health. Landscapers also sometimes end up doing minor fencing and stone work around the yard.

Earthwork

Earthwork is operating of a large piece of construction equipment such as a tractor or backhoe. Their job is usually very specific such as breaking, digging, leveling or grading. Earthwork contractor often also do asphalt or concrete work due the overlap in trades. Heavy equipment workers usually take certification classes or get experience on the job.

Glazing

Glazing is supply glass work such as windows or shower surrounds. Glaziers need on the job training and often training instructions form the product manufacturer. Basic tools are used and often the work with wood or aluminum in a way that a finish carpenter would. Skills include precise measuring, cutting glass, tinting windows and sealing windows from weather intrusion.

Water Proof or Roofer

Water proofing or roofing are not usually associated together but they are attempting to accomplish the same task which is to keep water out. Roofers need basic tools to install water proof material covered by shingles. Their job is considered high risk because of injuries from falling and they carry liability because they are the first line of defense in protecting a home from the weather. Water proofers often water proof decks or exterior structures not typically handled by traditional roofing. Their skills include apply sheet metal flashing, “paint” on a water proofing material or applying water proofing paper

Management Skills

Management skills aren’t something people think about right away. but they a re a great skill set for an tradesman. These skills include understanding job schedules and critical path. Contract documents and when change orders are appropriate. Estimating materials and labor requirements. Recording job site conditions & activities  in a journal. Managing other workers and subcontractors or ordering long lead items.

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