Tag Archives: Plumbing

Construction Sector

Significant Points

* Job opportunities are expected to be good, especially for skilled and experienced construction trades workers.
* Workers have relatively high hourly earnings.
* About 68 percent of establishments employ fewer than 5 people.
* Construction includes a very large number of self-employed workers.

Nature of the Industry
Goods and services.

Houses, apartments, factories, offices, schools, roads, and bridges are only some of the products of the construction industry. This industry’s activities include the building of new structures, including site preparation, as well as additions and modifications to existing ones. The industry also includes maintenance, repair, and improvements on these structures.

Industry organization.

The construction industry is divided into three major segments. The construction of buildings segment includes contractors, usually called general contractors, who build residential, industrial, commercial, and other buildings. Heavy and civil engineering construction contractors build sewers, roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, and other projects related to our Nation’s infrastructure. Specialty trade contractors perform specialized activities related to all types of construction such as carpentry, painting, plumbing, and electrical work.

Construction usually is done or coordinated by general contractors, who specialize in one type of construction such as residential or commercial building. They take full responsibility for the complete job, except for specified portions of the work that may be omitted from the general contract. Although general contractors may do a portion of the work with their own crews, they often subcontract most of the work to heavy construction or specialty trade contractors.

Recent developments.

The construction industry has been strongly affected by the credit crisis and recession that began in December 2007. Housing prices fell and foreclosures of homes rose sharply, particularly in overbuilt areas of the country. New housing construction, while still ongoing, dropped significantly. The recession is expected to impact other types of construction as well. Retailers are refraining from building new stores and State and local governments are reducing spending. However, as energy costs have risen, some companies are finding it necessary to build or renovate buildings that are not energy efficient. “Green construction” is an area that is increasingly popular and involves making buildings as environmentally friendly and energy efficient as possible by using more recyclable and earth-friendly products.

Source: bls.gov, mediaclubsouthafrica.com

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Construction Managers

Significant Points

* About 61 percent of construction managers are self-employed.
* Jobseekers who combine construction work experience with a bachelor’s degree in a construction-related field should enjoy the best prospects.
* Certification, although not required, is increasingly important for construction managers.

Nature of the Work

Construction managers plan, direct, coordinate, and budget a wide variety of construction projects, including the building of all types of residential, commercial, and industrial structures, roads, bridges, wastewater treatment plants, and schools and hospitals. Construction managers may supervise an entire project or just part of one. They schedule and coordinate all design and construction processes, including the selection, hiring, and oversight of specialty trade contractors, such as carpentry, plumbing, or electrical, but they usually do not do any actual construction of the structure.

Construction managers are salaried or self-employed managers who oversee construction supervisors and personnel. They are often called project managers, constructors, construction superintendents, project engineers, construction supervisors, or general contractors. Construction managers may be owners or salaried employees of a construction management or contracting firm, or they may work under contract or as a salaried employee of the property owner, developer, or contracting firm managing the construction project.

These managers coordinate and supervise the construction process from the conceptual development stage through final construction, making sure that the project gets completed on time and within budget. They often work with owners, engineers, architects, and others who are involved in the process. Given the designs for buildings, roads, bridges, or other projects, construction managers supervise the planning, scheduling, and implementation of those designs.

Large construction projects, such as an office building or an industrial complex, are often too complicated for one person to manage. Accordingly, these projects are divided into various segments: site preparation, including clearing and excavation of the land, installing sewage systems, and landscaping and road construction; building construction, including laying foundations and erecting the structural framework, floors, walls, and roofs; and building systems, including protecting against fire and installing electrical, plumbing, air-conditioning, and heating systems. Construction managers may be in charge of one or several of these activities.

Construction managers determine the best way to get materials to the building site and the most cost-effective plan and schedule for completing the project. They divide all required construction site activities into logical steps, estimating and budgeting the time required to meet established deadlines. Doing this may require sophisticated scheduling and cost-estimating techniques using computers with specialized software.

Construction managers also manage the selection of general contractors and trade contractors to complete specific phases of the project—which could include everything from structural metalworking and plumbing, to painting, to installing electricity and carpeting. Construction managers determine the labor requirements of the project and, in some cases, supervise or monitor the hiring and dismissal of workers. They oversee the performance of all trade contractors and are responsible for ensuring that all work is completed on schedule.

Construction managers direct and monitor the progress of construction activities, occasionally through construction supervisors or other construction managers. They are responsible for obtaining all necessary permits and licenses and, depending upon the contractual arrangements, for directing or monitoring compliance with building and safety codes, other regulations, and requirements set by the project’s insurers. They also oversee the delivery and use of materials, tools, and equipment; worker safety and productivity; and the quality of the construction.

Work Environment

Working out of a main office or out of a field office at the construction site, construction managers monitor the overall construction project. Decisions regarding daily construction activities generally are made at the jobsite. Managers might travel considerably when the construction site is not close to their main office or when they are responsible for activities at two or more sites. Management of overseas construction projects usually entails temporary residence in the country in which the project is being carried out.

Often on call 24 hours a day, construction managers deal with delays, such as the effects of bad weather, or emergencies at the jobsite. More than one-third worked a standard 40-hour week in 2008, and some construction projects continue around the clock. Construction managers may need to work this type of schedule for days or weeks to meet special project deadlines, especially if there are delays.

Although the work usually is not inherently dangerous, injuries can occur and construction managers must be careful while performing onsite services.

Source: bls.gov, rbacc.co.uk, cparchitects.com, nhdemolition.com

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Plumbers, Pipelayers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Significant Points

•    Job opportunities should be very good.
•    These workers constitute one of the largest and highest paid construction occupations.
•    Most States and localities require plumbers to be licensed.
•    Most workers train in apprenticeship programs and in career or technical schools or community colleges.
Nature of the Work

Most people are familiar with plumbers who come to their home to unclog a drain or fix a leaking toilet. Plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install, maintain, and repair many different types of pipe systems. Some of these systems move water from reservoirs to municipal water treatment plants and then to residential, commercial, and public buildings. Other systems dispose of waste, supply gas to stoves and furnaces, or provide for heating and cooling needs. Pipe systems in powerplants carry the steam that powers huge turbines. Pipes also are used in manufacturing plants to move material through the production process. Specialized piping systems are very important in both pharmaceutical and computer-chip manufacturing.

Although plumbing, pipelaying, pipefitting, and steamfitting are sometimes considered a single trade, workers generally specialize in one of five areas. Plumbers install and repair the water, waste disposal, drainage, and gas systems in homes and commercial and industrial buildings. Plumbers also install plumbing fixtures—bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets—and appliances such as dishwashers, waste disposers, and water heaters. Pipelayers lay clay, concrete, plastic, or cast-iron pipe for drains, sewers, water mains, and oil or gas lines. Before laying the pipe, pipelayers prepare and grade the trenches either manually or with machines. After laying the pipe, they weld, glue, cement, or otherwise join the pieces together. Pipefitters install and repair both high-pressure and low-pressure pipe systems used in manufacturing, in the generation of electricity, and in the heating and cooling of buildings. They also install automatic controls that are increasingly being used to regulate these systems. Steamfitters install pipe systems that move liquids or gases under high pressure. Sprinklerfitters install automatic fire sprinkler systems in buildings.

Plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters use many different materials and construction techniques, depending on the type of project. Residential water systems, for example, incorporate copper, steel, and plastic pipe that can be handled and installed by one or two plumbers. Municipal sewerage systems, by contrast, are made of large cast-iron pipes; installation normally requires crews of pipefitters. Despite these differences, all plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters must be able to follow building plans or blueprints and instructions from supervisors, lay out the job, and work efficiently with the materials and tools of their trade. When plumbers working construction install piping in a new house, they work from blueprints or drawings that show the planned location of pipes, plumbing fixtures, and appliances. Recently, plumbers have become more involved in the design process. Their knowledge of codes and the operation of plumbing systems can cut costs. First they lay out the job to fit the piping into the structure of the house with the least waste of material. Then they measure and mark areas in which pipes will be installed and connected. Construction plumbers also check for obstructions such as electrical wiring and, if necessary, plan the pipe installation around the problem.

Sometimes, plumbers have to cut holes in walls, ceilings, and floors of a house. With some systems, they may hang steel supports from ceiling joists to hold the pipe in place. To assemble a system, plumbers—using saws, pipe cutters, and pipe-bending machines—cut and bend lengths of pipe. They connect the lengths of pipe with fittings, using methods that depend on the type of pipe used. For plastic pipe, plumbers connect the sections and fittings with adhesives. For copper pipe, they slide a fitting over the end of the pipe and solder it in place with a torch.

After the piping is in place in the house, plumbers install the fixtures and appliances and connect the system to the outside water or sewer lines. Finally, using pressure gauges, they check the system to ensure that the plumbing works properly.
Work environment

Plumbers work in commercial and residential settings where water and septic systems need to be installed and maintained. Pipefitters and steamfitters most often work in industrial and power plants. Pipelayers work outdoors, sometimes in remote areas, laying pipes that connect sources of oil, gas, and chemicals with the users of these resources. Sprinklerfitters work in all buildings that require the use of fire sprinkler systems.

Because plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters frequently must lift heavy pipes, stand for long periods, and sometimes work in uncomfortable or cramped positions, they need physical strength and stamina. They also may have to work outdoors in inclement weather. In addition, they are subject to possible falls from ladders, cuts from sharp tools, and burns from hot pipes or soldering equipment. Consequently, this occupation experiences rates of nonfatal injuries and illnesses that are much higher than average.

Plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters often work more than 40 hours per week and can be on call for emergencies nights and weekends. Some pipelayers may need to travel to and from worksites.

Source: bls.gov, virginmedia.com

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