How to Become a
Builder

Three people with hard hats looking at construction drawings

If you're interested in working in the construction industry as a builder, you've come to the right place. This article includes all kinds of information about how to become a builder, including required skills and training and a Q and A with a veteran of the industry. Keep reading to find out all about how to become a Builder.

What Does a Builder Do?

Builders manage, coordinate and work on the construction, maintenance or repair of residential and commercial buildings. Sometimes Builders supervise a project by arranging subcontractors to complete specific jobs and sometimes they do the work themselves. Builders also ensure that the construction project meets industry and government regulations as well as their clients’ requirements.

The work Builders do is generally conducted outdoors mostly in industrial conditions as part of a construction team.  It may be necessary at times to operate machinery. The hazardous nature of construction work requires Builders to comply with strict safety regulations and to wear protective equipment thus ensuring that the site is safe for all personnel. The daily activity of a Builder will depend on the level of experience and their specialization. Initially one could expect to do the more laborious tasks of construction work like:

  • Preparation and clearing up of construction areas

  • Deliveries and distribution of supplies

  • Helping other workers with equipment and small tasks

  • Assembling and disassembling of scaffolding

  • Learning new skills from experienced Builders

The more experience you have the more responsibility you will be given until you work your way up to that of a supervisor. As a supervisor you will delegate work, organize projects and hire specialist contractors.

A Builder is responsible for a range of manual, managerial and administrative duties. Some common duties and responsibilities are listed below:

  • Interpreting plans or organizing for plans to be drawn that meet building code regulations and client specifications.

  • Providing quotes or submitting tenders for building projects.

  • Ensuring that plans are submitted to local authorities for approval.

  • Inspect building work on a regular basis.

  • Organizing specialist contractors such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters to complete building projects.

  • Undertaking some building work personally as needed.

  • Coordinating administrative tasks such as payment, calculating quantities and costs as well as sourcing of building materials and labor.

  • Supervising contractors or employees as well as ensuring that safety standards are maintained and that targets are met.

Builder Skills

A Builder is expected to carry huge responsibilities and manage a team of people.  There is a lot of flexibility in this career choice and you are sure to find something that you enjoy doing. Full-time Builders usually work Monday to Friday, and Saturday mornings. Self-employed or sub-contractor Builders may work longer hours in order to meet with clients or handle administrative tasks. Seeing that much of the work is done outdoors poor weather conditions may reduce work activity at times. Builders generally need to be in good health.  A certain level of fitness and strength is required as you will most likely be expected to carry heavy objects on a regular basis.

Other key Builder skills include:

  • Good co-ordination skills

  • Ability to work well in a team

  • Staying calm under pressure while still making good decisions

  • Attention to detail

  • Multi-tasker

How Do You Become a Builder?

Education and Training

Generally Builders get their education through on-the-job training, apprenticeships or a degree in construction. Usually people who are interested in a career as a Builder have had previous experience in the trade, often in entry-level roles such as a laborer or as an apprentice where no qualifications are required. Employers prefer expanding on any hands-on experience by studying a building course to deeper understand the theory behind the practice. Completing a course will not only enhance your skills, but it will also help you to meet the minimum education requirements needed to apply for a Builder’s license.

While degrees are available in this sector, aspiring Builders may choose to pursue a bachelor's degree in construction management in order to increase their employment prospects. Entry-level employees with a 4-year degree in construction management or a relevant field typically begin their careers in management roles. These courses cover the introduction to construction, building codes, materials testing and project scheduling.

Employers, trade unions and professional associations may also offer training for entry-level workers in the form of apprenticeship programs, which may last from 3-5 years and comprise of both on-the-job and classroom training. Aspiring contractors with only work experience and licensing may need to show at least several years of work experience before ascending into the position of a general contractor. Builders can get their credentials endorsed through the Home Builder's Institute (refer to resources below). All states require Builders to be licensed before they offer their services.

Finding a job

The demand for Builders is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 15% growth for the position through 2024, amounting to a total of 37,300 openings for Builders during that period. This is a much faster than average growth compared to most occupations. This growth is due to the population growth, which will result in the construction of more schools, hospitals, homes and other buildings.

Ensure the success of your Builder job search by starting with a high-quality resume that highlights your skills and experience.  If you need guidance on how to go about this, take a look at our collection of Builder resume samples.

After your resume is complete, search online for Builder job opportunities. At this point contact the professional network you have built up including those you met through internships to look for opportunities.

A cover letter is a good platform to expresses your interest and qualification as well as what you offer to the role.  If you need inspiration, look at the collection of cover letter samples on our site. Be sure to leverage your professional network, including people you met through an internship or externship.

Insights from a Builder

In order to get an inside look at how to become a Builder, we talked to an experienced Builder Justin Beedle. This is what he had to share with us.

What is the common career path for a Builder?

All non-office personnel meaning operations personnel should have at least some field experience actually building projects. The biggest mistake the commercial construction industry is making right now is hiring individuals to be Project Managers and Superintendents without actual construction experience. There are many lumps to be taken by going this route.

The top construction individuals that I have come across in my career have all filled the following roles in construction:
Job Superintendent: The individual actually responsible for scheduling subcontractors, calling for inspections and managing the job schedule.
Estimator: The individual responsible for understanding the plans, soliciting bids from subcontractors and preparing a detailed, qualified budget for the project.
Project Manager: Individual responsible for handling the finances, contracts and owner communication for multiple projects.
Project Manager: Responsible for multiple project managers and divisions of work within the company.
Director, etc.

Having said that, there are multiple fantastic superintendents that could fill any of these roles but choose to remain in the field where they enjoy working.

What should someone consider before becoming a Builder?

This is a high stress job and environment. Dates mean everything and hitting those dates are crucial to success. It is a difficult industry because of the number of variables involved in completing a successful project.  You are affected by weather, city municipalities, subcontractors who are inherently independent or they wouldn’t be in business for themselves and inspectors. Someone should also consider that in many cases there is significant travel away from home for anywhere from 120 days to multiple months or years depending on the project size. I would also consider if you want to be involved in residential construction or commercial construction because they are very different. There is many more inspections, regulations and local and national building codes that need to be followed in commercial construction.  Having said that, there are far less emotional homeowners involved in commercial construction as well.

What type of person excels in this job?

People who can handle stress and constant change. Construction is nothing but overcoming many problems each day. This person needs to be ambitious, and willing to have conflict with individuals that they do not know. We try to avoid conflict but if you are someone that is uncomfortable with having tough conversations with someone, you might need to find another industry.

What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being a Builder?

I love driving down the road and pointing out the projects that we have built. I enjoy seeing the end result of many tough battles and seeing entrepreneurs open their first facility or their 20th facility. It is very rewarding to me.

How Much Do Builder’s Get Paid?

Top 10 States for Builder’s Salary

    Hawaii

    $55,505

    Illinois

    $52,175

    Alaska

    $49,222

    New Jersey

    $43,845

    Massachusetts

    $43,120

    Washington

    $43,120

    Nevada

    $36,486

    Wisconsin

    $35,736

    Rhode Island

    $35,493

    Indiana

    $35,253

    Builder Resources

    We looked for resources to help you become a successful Builder. The list of resources includes websites, industry associations, and books that can help you build your professional network and obtain the certifications necessary to succeed in this field.

    On the Web

    Builder Resources
    advice on planning, marketing, managing and growing a construction business.

    Builder Online
    latest news on home designs, building materials, building news.

    Industry Groups

    American Subcontractors Association
    an association that represents subcontractors & suppliers in the construction industry.

    HBI
    provides information on education, career development, training and placement of men and women serving the building industry.

    NAHB
    provides news, product information and educational resources for Builders.

    Builder Books

    House Builders Bible
    valuable experiences and observations of a Builder on managing, buying and using materials, finding to employing the right people.

    Contractor's Exam Book
    provides information to pass your Builder’s examination.