Career prosperity is no accident...you can build it.

Sometimes choosing a career can feel like getting pulled in a thousand different directions. Use the Build Iowa Career Center as a guide to help you explore the possibilities.

Process of Commercial Construction

12. Testing and balancing | The final task to be done before the completed project is handed over to the building owner is testing the heating and cooling components to ensure that all systems are working properly. At this stage the construction is complete and the end user begins to occupy the building.
1. Land Surveying | A building project begins with figuring out what you have to work with. A bare piece of land is often times more complicated than it seems and needs to be analyzed carefully. Land Surveyors will take detailed measurements and samples to create accurate maps of the area that are used throughout the design and building process.
2. Design | After the land has been carefully analyzed, a team of architects, engineers, and designers begin establishing detailed plans for the layout and construction of the building. This often goes unseen by the outside world, but is arguably the most essential piece of the process and will affect the entire project from start to finish.
3. Site Work and Utility Installation | When the construction portion of the project begins, there are many things that need to be addressed before the building structure gets put into place. Site preparation can include dirt work, as well as the removal of trees or other unwanted structures. In addition, this phase includes any work being done underground, such as the installation of sewers, water lines, gas lines, or electrical components.
4. Foundations | The necessary site and underground work has been completed and it is time to begin constructing the building. Before any structure rises above the ground it must have a solid foundation underground. This foundation is typically created from poured concrete and serves to stabilize the structure for decades to come.
5. Building Structure | The project begins to take shape when the structure is erected on top of the foundation. This building structure can be made of wood, metal, or concrete, and is often thought of as the skeleton around which the rest of the project will be built.
6. Building Exterior | Shortly after the framework of the building is constructed, the exterior skin can begin. Roofing takes place, windows and exterior doors are installed, and masonry or siding is applied to ensure that the building interior is weatherproof.
7. Interior MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) | Installation of the electrical, plumbing, and HVAC components on the building interior most commonly begins well before the exterior skin is completed. During this phase of the project, electrical and data wiring will be put in place, water lines and drains will be ran, fire suppression systems will be fitted, and heating and cooling systems will be installed.
8. Interior Partitions | Interior walls and partitions can be constructed before, during, or after the MEP installation phase. The exact time they are constructed could depend on what will be inside the wall, what is in the ceiling above or floor below, or the type of partition. Most drywall is installed at the end of this phase, but only after the MEP installations have been inspected.
9. Interior Finishes | Many different trades are active during this stage of the project as the building interior comes to life. Drywall is being finished, floor and wall coverings are being installed, ceilings and walls are being painted or finished, and the building is being equipped with interior doors and trim work.
10. MEP finishes | The building process enters the final stages as plumbing, light, and other electrical fixtures are installed. Finish details are also applied to the heating and cooling system during this phase. These trades are typically the last on the job.
11. Landscapes and Hardscapes | As interior work is nearing completion, the final exterior touches are being put in place. This stage of the project involves landscaping the property and pouring concrete for driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots. This concrete work doesn’t always wait for last, it is sometimes completed earlier in the project depending on what the original phasing, design, or plans require.
  • In 2015, skilled trades topped the hardest to fill jobs list for the 6th consecutive year.

  • The average college debt per graduating senior has risen every year for 25 consecutive years.

  • The average construction apprentice program graduate has a starting income that is 9% higher than the average starting income of a bachelor’s degree recipient.

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Choose Your Path

A successful career in construction can come together in many different ways. This career path flow chart certainly doesn’t list every option or path, but it is meant to give you guidelines for what you might expect for the path you choose to pursue.

  • Entering the construction workforce immediately after high school is a path that many have chosen. It can be a great way to learn about the industry and bring a new perspective to the professions that you may consider for a career. With this path, you can get hands-on experience and develop your skills while avoiding the potential financial burden of college debt.

    Immediate Workforce Entry career path
  • Taking construction-related classes at a technical school or community college is another great way to learn about the industry. Whether your plans after school involve entering the workforce or applying for a construction apprentice program, these classes and connections can be a valuable resource.

    Community or Tech College career path
  • “Earn while you learn” is a very popular and accurate depiction of a construction apprentice. Several trades have opportunities available that allow you to combine classroom learning with on-the-job training. Many people see this as a great way to get educated and advance quickly in their chosen profession.

    Trade Apprenticeship career path
  • Enrolling in a four-year university is a fantastic way to enter the industry, and depending on the university, there are a variety of programs from which to choose. Most curriculums are focused on construction engineering and construction management, but there are also opportunities in the field of construction for those pursuing a more business-centric degree like finance, accounting or marketing.

    Four-Year University career path