May 16, 2020

Top tips for climbing the construction career ladder

Construction jobs
Construction Careers
3 min
Top tips for climbing the construction career ladder
As a construction worker, you may have gotten into the field as a general laborer, helping higher paid workers to get the job done.

Working your way up...

As a construction worker, you may have gotten into the field as a general laborer, helping higher paid workers to get the job done.

Working your way up from the bottom is a common way to get ahead in the construction industry. However, to really get ahead and to command the higher salaries that lead construction workers receive, there's no getting around it; furthering your education is the next step.

Hammer Home Education

One reason that an education is necessary to get paid more in the construction industry is because insurance company underwriters demand it.

The insurance companies that insure construction companies, land developers and city planning departments are beholden to the underwriters who finance projects. These underwriters want to make sure that their financial risks are minimal.

One way to do that is to require that all senior level construction employees who hold a position of responsibility have a minimum level of education or hold certain certificates.

That's one reason why your employer may not promote you, despite your years of dedication and accident-free on the job service.

How to Get the Education You Need

As the following article looks at, there are 4 ways to further your construction education.

Each way requires a different level of commitment as far as time, and each one will require a different amount of financial backing.

The one that is best for you will depend on your current level of status, where you work, and what your personal situation is, pertaining to family responsibilities and ability to travel, etc.

Among the ideas to look at:

1. Be an apprentice

As an official apprentice, you won't be paid much more than a living wage, if that. There are paid and unpaid apprenticeships. You would be shadowing and assisting a superior, and learning how to do their job. They would be assessing your work on a day to day basis, and keeping written reports on your ability to handle the work. You would be scrutinized for your ability to follow directions, take criticism and solve problems that arise. An apprenticeship in construction could take up to a year to complete. At the end of that time, you could achieve certification to do the job of your superior, for an increased rate of pay.

2. Get your Associate's Degree

The benefits of classroom education in the construction industry shouldn't be underestimated, especially if you've been getting along so far with just a high school diploma. Completing an Associate's Degree will give you a piece of paper to prove that you were able to do the work required to pass all your tests. But it also proves that you take your construction career seriously, and are committed to advancing as far as possible in this industry.

3. Get your certification

You can enroll in a construction industry certification course to become a machine specialist. As an operator of specialist machine equipment, such as cranes, loaders and haulers, you would be paid a higher salary to perform your duties on a construction site.

4. Get a 4-year degree in the construction industry

If you are getting older and looking for ways to stay in the construction industry without having to endure stress and strain on your body, a career in the business side of construction might be a smart decision. With a 4-year degree in construction industry studies, you could be the one sitting behind a desk obtaining financing or directing operations instead of the one wearing work boots and working in the dust.

Your career in construction can take all kinds of roads, and many of them can lead to higher pay, better hours, and more comfortable working conditions.

Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.

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Jun 17, 2021

Why engineers must always consider human-induced vibration

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Human-induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users

Human induced vibration, or more accurately vibrations caused by human footfall, often conjures images of Millennium Bridge-style swaying or collapsing buildings.

But in reality, the ‘damage’ caused by human-induced vibrations is less likely to ruin a structure and more likely to cause discomfort in people. Though not as dramatic as a structural failure, any good engineer wants to make sure the people using their structures, be it bridges or buildings or anything in between, can do so safely and comfortably. This is why human-induced vibration must be considered within the design process.

Resonance v Impulse

There are two ways that human-induced vibrations affect structures: resonant, and impulse or transient response. Put simply, resonance occurs when Object A vibrates at the same natural frequency as Object B.

Object B resonates and begins to vibrate too. Think singing to break a wine glass! Although the person singing isn’t touching the glass, the vibrations of their voice are resonating with the glass’s natural frequency, causing this vibration to get stronger and stronger and eventually, break the glass. In the case of a structure, resonance occurs when the pedestrian’s feet land in time with the vibration.

On the other hand, impulse or transient vibration responses can be a problem on structures where its natural frequencies are too high for resonance to occur, such as where the structure is light or stiff. Here the discomfort is caused by the initial “bounce” of the structure caused by the footstep and is a concern on light or stiff structures.

Engineers must, of course, design to reduce the vibration effects caused by either impulse or resonance.

Potential impacts from human induced vibration

Human induced vibration can lead to a number of effects upon the structure and its users. These include:

  • Interfering with sensitive equipment Depending on the building’s purpose, what it houses can be affected by the vibrations of people using the building. Universities and laboratories, for example, may have sensitive equipment whose accuracy and performance could be damaged by vibrations. Even in ordinary offices the footfall vibration can wobble computer screens, upsetting the workers.
  • Swaying bridges One of the most famous examples of human-induced resonance impacting a structure occurred with the Millennium Bridge. As people walked across the bridge, the footsteps caused the bridge to sway, and everybody had to walk in time with the sway because it was difficult not to. Thankfully, this feedback can only occur with horizontal vibrations so building floors are safe from it, but footbridges need careful checking to prevent it.
  • Human discomfort According to research, vibrations in buildings and structures can cause depression and even motion sickness in inhabitants. Tall buildings sway in the wind and footsteps can be felt, even subconsciously by the occupants. It has been argued that modern efficient designs featuring thinner floor slabs and wider spacing in column design mean that these new builds are not as effective at dampening vibrations as older buildings are.
  • Jeopardising structural integrity The build-up of constant vibrations on a structure can, eventually, lead to structural integrity being compromised. A worse-case scenario would be the complete collapse of the structure and is the reason some bridges insist that marching troops break step before crossing. Crowds jumping in time to music or in response to a goal in a stadium are also dynamic loads that might damage an under-designed structure.

How to avoid it

As mentioned, modern designs that favour thinner slabs and wider column spacing are particularly susceptible to all forms of vibration, human-induced or otherwise, but short spans can also suffer due to their low mass. Using sophisticated structural engineering software is an effective method for engineers to test for and mitigate footfall and other vibrations at the design stage.

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