There were quite a number of comments about our latest Salaries Series article on working in construction. Many who read the article wanted more specific details about each of the trades. We’ll consider that as our series continues. Construction work is varied and can involve a huge number of jobs, each with their own specialties and educational needs.
George O wrote on the Globe website that the writer of the article “got confused between ‘skilled trades’ and construction work. I have never seen nor heard of a ‘tool and die maker’ on a construction job.”
“Construction is a broad term and pay will vary considerably depending on the type of construction project you are working on as well as whatever skill you have. Some types of projects are difficult to get work on unless you are a union member while others are pretty well open to anyone who is willing to make an effort,” he said.
Nononsense piped in that “this occupation series is disappointingly vague and superficial. Very lightweight detail. Let’s have some details.”
Nononsense suggested breaking down the construction trades and giving details. For example, a framer with five years experience will make $xx, or a cement truck driver with five years experience will earn $xx.
Two downsides of construction are that it can be cyclical and you may have to work away from your home for extended periods of time, said George O.
Many commenters said those who are willing to work in construction will always have a job.
That Depends wrote that “hard workers with a skill will always be in demand. Skilled trades need good people. Many of which have gone to university only to be disappointed in what lies ahead for them. You can make a very good living for years to come.”
“There are operators – the highest paid, and mechanics and labourers; if you are with a union, the wages are excellent and you have security, for example, you are not likely to be taken advantage of,” wrote ruthmatthews
“Having good contacts is the key to being constantly employed particularly if you are a good and reliable worker.”
“If you’re a smart guy with a good work ethic, you can make limitless amounts of cash in construction,” said mcscotty.
Mr. Busby disputed the salary figures in the story. “I don’t know where you got the salary numbers, but a starting salary in Ontario would be more like $30,000 if you’re lucky. Most construction jobs are non-union. No benefits, maybe overtime pay. Vacation every winter when you are laid off. Check out the differences in labour regulations in your province and you’ll likely find overtime starts at 48 [hours]. Then try to collect.”
“Also, a lot of residential construction is done by small subcontractors who will weasel out of everything from workers’ compensation to remitting payroll deductions. And guess who’s on the hook in the end?” he said.
“I’m not trying to paint everyone with the same brush here. There are reputable contractors out there. There are also a lot of weasels. I have never met anyone who makes $200,000 working in construction – not even in Fort McMurray,” Mr. Busby said.
In response to Mr. Busby, Davy Jones’ locker wrote that “even thou I don’t work in [Fort McMurray], I am a tradesman and I do earn pretty close to the $200,000 mark.”
“My family has been in construction for 40 years in all trades. The money for any licensed trade is $70,000-plus in Ontario and a lot more if you get in with a big firm,” wrote That Depends.
Davy Jones’ locker also said the amount of education required by some tradespeople is significant, but it’s not viewed that way by society. “I personally know that a tradesperson’s [education] is equal to a university degree and yet society refuses to believe it, all they need to do is look over to Germany as that is a great example to follow.”
Want to read more stories from our salaries series? Go to tgam.ca/salaries