Part 2: Promoting Construction Trade and Management Careers

Several years back, I was asked to co-facilitate a lunch group of wives married to successful men in the construction industry. These ladies had never worked in the industry themselves. About half of them had careers outside of raising a family. All of them lived a more-than-comfortable life—which their husbands’ career success contributed to—yet listening to them, you would think they were in competition with a mistress called Construction, despite evidence, to me, their husbands cherished them.

Having been in a segment of the industry dating back to trade school—first married to a subcontractor and now (almost twenty years) to the love of my life, who rose from an early career in the trades to executive leadership—combined with my career of the last twenty-five years, supporting those who work in the industry to find and develop top talent, it was quite disheartening.

I love the construction industry and am grateful for the men and women who dedicate their lives to building ours daily. Thankfully, by the end of the group, we heard positive feedback on the new approaches they would make to support their husbands’ careers and change their disdain for the industry.

If you have a loved one in management in the construction industry, here are some facts to help you better understand the industry and the commitment your loved one chooses to make to the job and the industry:

  1. According to Associated General Contractors of America, construction is a major contributor to the US economy. The industry has more than 733,000 employers with over 7 million employees and creates nearly $1.4 trillion worth of structures each year. Construction is one of the largest customers for manufacturing, mining, and a variety of services.
  2. The industry runs on a project model, and for companies to maintain sustainable growth, they must obtain and successfully construct and complete projects while also pursuing new projects.
  3. The multiple segments of the construction industry and every company work off different business models, on various project types, and in specific geographic regions. All these factors come into play when selecting the right company and career path in construction. Management consulting firms (program management and construction management) do not directly oversee trade professionals, as a general contractor or subcontracting firm would, which means the aforementioned are not typically jobsite based, or if they are, it is in a jobsite office setting.
    a.) Geographic regions. Working for an industry firm that does not travel outside your local area will typically not require your loved one to travel or your family to relocate to follow projects.
    b.) Stability is not based on the size of the firm but the size of the pipeline of projects in proportion to the people employed by the firm and those individuals’ capabilities.
    c.) Compensation is based on profit and overhead allotted for the various positions.
  4. The number of hours required in a workweek correlates to the responsibility required of your loved one and the time, schedule, and budget allotted for the projects they are assigned to. If they are part of the office executive leadership and support staff, the hours are relevant to the assignment.
  5. It is not always the employer pushing for the extra hours a construction management professional works.
    a.) Some managers put more time in as they enjoy their job and the people affiliated with their work and lose track of time.
    b.) Some managers take more time to do detail work and ensure correct reporting.
    c.) Projects often have a period that requires extra or off hours to accommodate construction. This could be an early-morning concrete pour or after-hours lighting or security testing that cannot be done during the day.

The construction industry is exciting because it is never the same for any two projects. Project team members, including developers, architects, engineers, consultants, municipalities, manufacturers, and sub-contractors, can all be involved in a project yet be based all over the country or even the world. The adventure and challenge might be what your loved one loves about working in the industry. They need your encouragement along the way as they rise to the challenges before them.

The best way for you to encourage them is to communicate ahead of time any important dates or plans they are urged to attend so they can be there for you yet have the appropriate coverage for their projects and project teams.

We are always available to help you understand the industry or options that might offer better balance for your family yet still give your loved one the experience and freedom they need to develop their career and love what they do.

After all, construction builds and rebuilds the world in good times and bad.

To Your Understanding and Support,

Suzanne Breistol


  • Eric Kennedy

    This is an excellent narrative, Suanne. I expect to be re-appointed to the State Apprenticeship Advisory Council, and will gladly invite you to attend and present this at one of the upcoming FL meetings.

    • Suzanne Breistol

      Thank you Eric. Congratulations on the appointment to the State Council. I will be happy to help you, the industry and the Council anyway I can.

      Look forward to catching up soon!

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