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Top Construction Trades and Training

Construction schools help to educate professionals in occupations throughout the building industry, such as carpenters, electricians, heavy equipment operators, home inspectors, masons and bricklayers, plumbers, surveyors and welders.

Learn more about construction schools

To gain skills for the construction industry, students can enroll in certificate courses or degree programs for associate, bachelor's or master's degrees. The American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) lists accredited associate degree programs in construction and building management at selected institutions including the following:

University of Alaska, Anchorage
Jefferson State Community College (Birmingham, Ala.)
Santa Fe College (Gainesville, Fla.)
John A. Logan College (Carterville, Ill.)

The ACCE also provides information on industry leaders that support construction education through mentorships, internships, scholarships and other activities.

US News & World Report ranked the top vocational and technical schools in 2012, with programs that include focuses on skills-based training (e.g. plumbing). The following schools were ranked as the top 5 vocational and technical schools by U.S. News & World Report:

1.  Pennsylvania State University--University Park
2.  Ohio State University
2.  University of Georgia
4.  University of Minnesota--Twin Cities
5.  Virginia Tech

Below are some of the construction courses available through schools on on SchoolsGalore.com:


Topics in carpentry classes could include mathematics as well as practical training using hand tools and power tools to form and assemble wooden components. Carpentry courses may also introduce students to building codes, blueprints, foundation layouts and techniques for flooring, wall paneling, framing and roofing and more.

Electrical and Energy Trades

Programs for electricians and energy trades teach traditionally skills such as installing wiring systems in new buildings or rewiring and upgrading existing electrical systems in old buildings. Specializations in maintenance focus on repairing electrical equipment and upgrading electrical systems. Graduates of electrician and energy trades schools are typically required to pass examinations to prove their knowledge of topics like electrical theory, the National Electrical Code, and local electrical and building codes.

Heavy Equipment Operation

Trade schools can teach students to drive and operate heavy equipment such as excavators, dump trucks, front end loaders and cranes. Heavy equipment operators may work in projects such as clearing land and landscaping, road building, mining and quarry operations. Some students take additional courses to become specialized in operating certain types of vehicles. Heavy equipment operators may be needed in a variety of industries, from underground utilities to oil production to waste management.

Home Inspection

Home inspectors typically require a professional ability to evaluate buildings and residential structures. Buyers and sellers of real estate depend on inspectors for objective reports on a building's electrical system, plumbing, roofs, cooling units, heat pumps, and surrounding soil and foundation. Home inspection students can learn to inspect the soundness of residential structures for real estate purposes or to meet building codes. Topics of study may also include inspecting for mold, pest damage, radon and more.


Training for bricklayers and masons can help students learn to set tile, stone, marble and bricks, as well as to repair stone and brick structures. Topics of study could include building codes, blueprints, safety and first aid practices, tools and equipment, and construction of chimneys and fireplaces. Masonry schools may help to set up apprenticeships for the chance to get hands-on experience in the field. With experience, training and the necessary exams, masons may become certified, licensed masons or master bricklayers.


Plumbing schools aim to teach students to inspect, install and repair plumbing systems. Studies may cover both remodels and new construction for residential or commercial projects. Plumbers need to learn about blueprints and building plans as well as the basics of using hand and power tools. Topics of study could include systems designed for gas piping, drain waste and vents, water heating and more. Related classes could explore HVAC and refrigeration. Plumbing training programs may include an apprenticeship for real-world practice.


Professional surveyors play a vital role in the industries of construction, land and title, and real estate. Surveying relates to other fields like civil engineering, mathematics, geography, physics and information technology. Courses typically introduce manual, mechanical and computer-aided drafting as well as technologies used in the field such as geographic information systems and GPS. Surveying schools teach techniques that include plane trigonometry and field methods for surveying horizontal and vertical planes. The curriculum may even include specialized writing courses for surveyors.


Welding continues to be a major component of shipbuilding, aerospace applications, automobile manufacture and repair, and other manufacturing processes. Training teaches safe methods of fusing metal parts together to create a lasting bond. Procedures for structural welding include plasma and carbon arc cutting as well as plate welding. Pipe welding courses typically cover pipe fitting and an overview of techniques and materials. Students in welding schools gain exposure to standards and codes, and can prepare to earn professional certification.

Learn more about construction trades careers and potential opportunities

Demand is expected to be high for certain construction trades between 2010 and 2020 in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012). Employment in trades like these is forecast to grow faster than the national average, although opportunities could depend on factors such as geographic location and a candidate's qualifications. Here are some top construction trades in terms of national 2010-2020 growth rates that the BLS projects as of 2012:

  1. Brickmasons, blockmasons and stonemasons: 40 percent
  2. Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters: 26 percent
  3. Construction equipment operators: 23 percent
  4. Electricians: 23 percent
  5. Carpenters: 20 percent

Growth is also likely to occur in related construction trades such as building inspection, as interest increases in public safety and the quality of construction. Employment for construction and building inspectors could increase by up to 18 percent from 2010 to 2020 nationally, reports the BLS. The BLS also notes that building inspectors may need some type of license or certification, and certified professionals potentially could find the most job opportunities. It is a wise step to find out if certification is recommended for any construction career.



American Council for Construction Education (Associate degree programs)

Bureau of Labor Statistics (Brickmasons, blockmasons and stonemasons)

Bureau of Labor Statistics (Carpenters)

Bureau of Labor Statistics (Construction and building inspectors)

Bureau of Labor Statistics (Construction equipment operators)

Bureau of Labor Statistics (Electricians)

Bureau of Labor Statistics (Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters)

Bureau of Labor Statistics (Welders, cutters, solderers and brazers)

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission