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Construction

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October 14, 2007

While residential construction has slowed significantly, commercial activity is busy in the Boston area, and throughout much of New England. Companies seek qualified management personnel, and most of the trades are doing well, too.

"Both on labor and management side, our biggest concern now is to have enough people to handle the responsibilities," said Dave Powell, labor relations director for Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts. "It's the best it's been in a long time from the point of a long-term view," he said. "Contractors are starting to build backlogs, they're turning away work."

Fan Pier development; construction of a large, multiuse hotel above South Station; a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Ayer; and expansions at colleges and medical facilities are keeping contractors hopping. "Their biggest problem is finding qualified project superintendents, project managers, and estimators," Powell said.

Several regional schools offer programs and scholarships in civil engineering and construction management. Check abc.org, careerbuilder.com, or contact your local trade organization for jobs, training programs, and industry information.

CARPENTERS

Average salary: $50,440

Demand: Good. Carpenters and laborers are "doing fine" this year, with a great deal of commercial work in the area, Dave Powell, of Associated General Contractors, said. Many also find jobs around New England.

Qualifications: Vocational education to start, followed by apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

CEMENT MASONS AND CONCRETE FINISHERS

Average salary: $47,370

Demand: Fair to good. Large construction projects and renovations provide good jobs, particularly for those with the right skills and experience.

Qualifications: A three-year apprenticeship usually required.

CONSTRUCTION MANAGERS

Average salary: $104,230

Demand: Very good. Contractors are having a hard time finding qualified project managers and superintendents to handle all the major building projects on their dockets. If you've got the resumé and the will to work, they're looking for you.

Qualifications: Strong experience counts here; degrees in engineering or construction science becoming more important.

DRYWALL INSTALLERS

Average salary: $48,360

Demand: Good. Renovations and commercial construction mean good opportunities for traditional interior work and for newer insulated exterior wall systems. The work is often strenuous and turnover is high.

Qualifications: Apprenticeships and on-the-job training. Those with carpentry skills have more opportunities.

ELECTRICIANS

Average salary: $55,950

Demand: Steady. Specialized skills and talents mean these tradespeople can usually find good work. Abundant commercial construction equals good job opportunities, but jobs can be tight for union workers.

Qualifications: Four-to-five year apprenticeships, plus licensure.

PAINTERS AND PAPERHANGERS

Average salary: $43,300 (construction painters); $42,650 (paperhangers)

Demand: Very good for painters; fair for paperhangers. With high turnover in a labor-intensive job, painters usually can find work; simplified processes and reduced use of wallpapers mean fewer jobs for paperhangers.

Qualifications: On-the-job training, some apprenticeships.

PLUMBERS AND PIPEFITTERS

Average salary: $57,260

Demand: Fair to good. A healthy commercial construction scene is keeping these trades busy; renovations and maintenance require their skills, too. But much work is temporary, and plumbers and pipe fitters must find new employment when a project ends.

Qualifications: Four- to five-year apprenticeships; exams and licensure usually required.

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