Career Map: Construction Worker

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Construction Worker

Position TitleConstruction Worker
Alternate Title(s)Laborer and Helper, Equipment Operator, Crane Operator
Education & Training LevelHigh school diploma or equivalent. Some training may be preferred. Equipment operators must hold a driver’s license.
Education & Training Level DescriptionMost construction workers learn their trade through short-term on-the-job training. There are generally no formal education requirements, although previous work experience may be preferred. Crane operators and excavating machine operators usually have several years of experience in related occupations.
Brief job description Construction workers in the wind industry are responsible for building local access roads and the foundations that support wind turbines. They operate heavy equipment and work to put the wind turbine tower, nacelle, and blade segments together. 
Preferred Level of EducationNo preferred level of education. However, some employers prefer training levels depending on the job being performed, such as an electrician’s helper with previous on-the-job experience.
Preferred Level of ExperienceSee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Estimated/Expected SalarySee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Job Profile

Erecting wind turbines requires many skilled construction workers. The work begins before the turbine components arrive on site. Construction laborers and construction equipment operators are responsible for preparing the site and building the surrounding infrastructure by building local access roads and the foundations that support the turbines. This involves clearing trees and debris for bulldozer operators, compaction of the native soil for crane paths and roadways, placement of gravel road base, cleaning machines, construction of fences, gates, cattle guards, and culverts. They also do many basic tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

Construction equipment operators, with the help of construction laborers, are also responsible for building accessible roads directly to the construction site, helping ensure that the wind turbine components can arrive without damage or delay. They use bulldozers, road graders, and other equipment to set up the construction site. This job can require an additional driver license (commercial driver’s license) obtained through training.

Crane operators are necessary in building a wind farm because the components are so large. After the turbine components arrive, they use cranes to lift the pieces of the turbine off the trucks. The first tower segment is set vertically onto the ground, where other workers secure it to the foundation. The remaining tower segments are then stacked atop one another and fastened together. When the tower has been erected, crane operators carefully lift the nacelle and the blades. The nacelle is placed on the top of the tower, and the blades are attached to the turbine's hub.

Job Skills
  • Color vision. Laborers and helpers may need to be able to distinguish colors to do their job. For example, an electrician’s helper must be able to distinguish different colors of wire to help the lead electrician.
  • Math skills. Laborers and some helpers need to perform basic math calculations to do their job. They often help with measuring on jobsites and may be part of a surveying crew.
  • Physical strength. Laborers and helpers often must lift heavy materials or equipment. Some laborers must climb the towers carrying many heavy fasteners to couple the towers or carry heavy rigging used by the crane to lift turbine components. There may be special training required for these jobs.
  • Stamina. Laborers and helpers must have endurance to perform strenuous tasks throughout the day, possibly in very hot or very cold weather.
  • Technical skills. Laborers frequently are required to operate heavy equipment, such as driving a forklift.
  • Eye–hand–foot coordination. Workers should have steady hands and feet to guide and control heavy machinery precisely, sometimes in tight spaces.
  • Mechanical skills. Because workers must often do basic maintenance on the equipment they operate, they should have good mechanical skills.
  • Tolerance of heights. During wind farm construction, equipment operators and construction workers may be required to work at great heights. Modern wind turbine towers may exceed 100-meters, requiring workers to be comfortable with heights.
  • Alertness and safety awareness. Machine operators must stay aware of their surroundings while operating machinery.
  • Manual dexterity. Operators sometimes have to maneuver their machines through tight spaces, around large objects, and on uneven surfaces.
  • Visual ability. When operating their machines, operators must be able to see clearly where they are driving or what they are moving. They also must watch for nearby workers, who may unknowingly get in their path.
Resources

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