WCA Can Help You Build Your Career

The construction industry provides exciting and financially rewarding careers. You can find a career path no matter what your interests are, whether you want to work with your mind, your hands or both! Explore professional and skilled trades career opportunities, and attend the Washtenaw Contractors Association’s annual JUST BUILD IT! Construction Career Expo.

Quick Facts about

introduced in 1998


Construction Career Expo

Every October, WCA hosts the longest running, most comprehensive youth construction career exploration program in Michigan for careers in architecture, engineering, and construction. Students (grades 8-12), counselors, and teachers experience:

  • Hands-on activities with skilled trade apprenticeship programs
  • Demonstrations by industry professionals such as architects and engineers
  • Exhibits by construction firms, educational institutions, and industry organizations
Check our events to see when this year's expo will be

If your school would like to bring students to the Expo, email WCA at info@wcaonline.org to be added to the invitation list.

Professional Careers

Professional Careers in the Construction Industry

Professionals in the construction industry bring such a wide variety of skills and experience to their work that it's nearly impossible to make generalizations about them. But they share a common sense of pride knowing that everything from highways to skyscrapers were built by construction professionals.

Professions that are particular to the Construction Industry include:

  • Architecture
  • Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering
  • Construction Management
  • Safety Management

Construction firms, like all businesses, also need managers and staff in administrative areas such as finance, human resources, quality control, and sales and marketing.


Education and Training

The education and training required for these professional careers varies. While most positions call for a minimum of a bachelor's degree, some require additional licensing. There are also voluntary certifications available for certain roles that can give you a competitive edge. Since large numbers of individuals and firms are involved in any construction project, the ability to work well and communicate with others is essential. Excellent computer skills are also needed.

Salaries in Professional Construction Careers

Construction professionals earn good salaries, and at some firms they share in profits or receive bonuses as well. Successful construction professionals often move up into top management positions at their companies. Their jobs are fast-paced and require decisiveness and the ability to handle multiple and ever-changing priorities. Are you ready for the challenge?

Cost Estimator $64,040

Architect $79,380

Civil Engineer $86,640

Construction Manager $93,370

(Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Tips for Students Interested in a Professional Construction Career

  • Enroll in advanced mathematics classes
  • Learn to write and speak clearly
  • Do well in other courses related to your career interests, such as art and physics for architecture, business for financial management, advanced science for engineering
  • Take advantage of elective courses such as computer science or building technology
  • Maintain good grades in all your classes to make sure you meet college entrance requirements
  • Seek information from colleges, and apply to those that offer a program in your desired career area

Rewards of a Professional Construction Career


  • Challenge: Tackle a new set of challenges with each new project
  • Innovation: Enjoy the excitement of seeking and developing new construction methods and technologies
  • Pride: Use your knowledge and experience to solve the difficult problems that complex projects present
  • Salary: Earn a good salary with opportunities for profit sharing and bonuses
  • Mobility: Choose to work anywhere in the U.S. and international locations with U.S. multinational firms
  • Opportunities: Move and grow in your career with large or small firms, or start your own business
  • Broad Choice of Career Areas: Architecture, Building/Code Official, Civil Engineer, Construction Manager, Cost Estimator, Electrical Engineer, Environmental Consultant, Facilities Manager, Financial Manager, Interior Designer, Landscape Architect, Mechanical Engineer, Safety Manager, Surveyor, Scheduler, Structural Engineer … and many more!

Skilled Trades

Skilled Trades Careers in the Construction Industry

Skilled tradespeople have built entire communities - from streets, highways and bridges, to homes, schools and hospitals. They are creative individuals who like to work with both their minds and their hands. They enjoy physical activity, working with a variety of tools, and they like to work as a team.


Education and Training

Skilled tradespeople need academic knowledge as well as technical skills. Tradespeople start their work by using science and mathematics to make detailed measurements. They must be able to understand and then build the project from blueprints, sketches and technical manuals. Good communication skills are essential, too.

Men and women in the skilled trades are commonly called “journeymen”. Journeymen usually learn their trade through a process called an apprenticeship. Apprentices are required to take technical courses after high school in apprenticeship programs that typically lasts three to five years. They also work and receive specific on-the-job training under the supervision of a journeyman.

Visit www.MUSTcareers.org for information on the individual trades and their apprenticeship programs.

Salaries in Skilled Trade Construction Careers

Skilled trades journeymen earn great salaries that are competitive with those earned by individuals with a bachelor's degree. In addition, skilled tradespeople are often provided with extensive fringe benefits including health insurance and pensions. Apprentices also receive these benefits. But the best part is that all the training in an apprenticeship program is FREE and you are earning while you are learning!




Less than high school diploma


High school graduate


Some college, no degree


Associates degree


Graduate of Skilled Trade Apprenticeship


Bachelor's Degree


Professional Degree


Source – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tips for Students Interested in a Skilled Trades Construction Career

  • Do well in mathematics and science
  • Take technology courses, especially those that are construction related such as CAD, welding etc.
  • Acquire related work skills in a high school building program
  • Learn to speak and write clearly
  • Maintain good grades and attendance
  • Choose extra-curricular activities that provide exposure to trade-related areas

Rewards of Skilled Trades Careers in the Construction Industry


  • Challenge: Solve new problems every day on many types of structures
  • Pride: See the buildings you constructed stand for years to come
  • Income: Earn wages similar to many college graduates, along with great fringe benefits
  • Job Growth: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster than average growth in the construction industry compared to other industries
  • Earn While You Learn: As an apprentice, work and earn great pay and benefits while you learn
  • No Tuition: Generally pay no tuition for apprenticeship programs and have no student loans to repay
  • College Credits: Some apprenticeship programs are coordinated with associate degree programs, and if you decide to go to college later your apprenticeship may provide college credits
  • Mobility: Choose to work anywhere in the U.S. with your skills and credentials that are nationally recognized
  • Job Security: Skilled Trades jobs can’t be outsourced to another country
  • Broad Choice of Trades: Bricklayer, Boilermaker, Carpenter, Cement Mason, Electrician, Glazier, Heat & Frost Insulator, Iron Worker, Laborer, Millwright, Operating Engineer, Painter, Plumber/Pipe-fitter, Roofer, Sheet Metal Worker, Sprinkler Fitter, Tile Setter … and many more!

Visit www.MUSTcareers.org for information on the individual trades and their apprenticeship programs.