Concrete contractors build structures and surfaces using – yup, you guessed it – concrete. There is a high level of demand for concrete subcontractors given the material’s prominence in modern construction. Keep reading to learn more about what concrete contractors do, how much they’re typically paid, and how demand is projected to shift in the coming years.
What is a concrete contractor?
Concrete work takes place in several stages, including:
- Choosing the correct concrete for the application: There are many types of concrete on the market. Before concrete contractors even begin working on the site, they need to identify the correct type of concrete for the project based on its specifications.
- Preparing the site: Once the contractor has identified the correct approach (including type of concrete), they can begin site preparation. This may include excavation and other ground preparation strategies that will ensure the concrete pouring process goes smoothly.
- Forming: During this stage, concrete subcontractors build a framework that will keep the concrete in place as it hardens.
- Pouring: Here’s where the concrete is poured into the form.
- Finishing: At this stage, concrete contractors put the finishing touches on the installation, which often includes embedding designs into the concrete before it hardens.
Concrete subcontractors are involved at every point in this process, ensuring the installation meets the project’s specifications. As specialized subcontractors, these professionals typically work under general contractors on larger projects. Their work is foundational (often quite literally) on many job sites.
Concrete contractor salary and career outlook
Next, let’s discuss how much concrete subcontractors earn on average along with how demand for their services is projected to shift over the coming years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cement masons and concrete finishers earn $49,390 annually on average. To reach the 90th percentile of cement masons and concrete finishers, a worker would need to earn $75,900 annually.
Of all U.S. states, California employs the largest number of concrete workers at 29,520. Texas is a distant second at 20,980.
When it comes to employment growth projections, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics files concrete workers under the category of “masonry workers.” The agency projects demand for this entire category of workers will decline by 3%. However, it also notes that concrete workers in particular will see greater demand than other types of masons due to the increasing popularity of polished concrete. Indeed, the bureau’s data projects cement masons will see demand for their services fall slightly less at 2% from 2019 to 2029.
Skills and qualities required for success as a concrete construction contractor
Now that you understand what concrete contractors do along with their compensation and forecasted demand, let’s discuss the skills required to succeed in this role. If you’re a subcontractor looking to hire concrete workers, this list should prove helpful when qualifying candidates.
Specialized hard skills
Concrete work is highly specialized, involving a unique set of tools, equipment, and processes. Successful candidates should be familiar with these processes and capable of performing them confidently.
Responsibility and time management
Concrete work (particularly pouring) is very time-sensitive. Because the material they work with is dynamic, concrete workers need to stay focused throughout the work day. Otherwise, the material could harden and make subsequent processing difficult.
On a related note, concrete workers also frequently need to work overtime since the material is such that certain types of processing (i.e. finishing) can’t be paused for the evening and resumed in the morning.
Concrete masonry is very physically demanding work. Professionals typically spend most of every day on their feet, often working under harsh conditions (i.e. extreme heat). They may also need to bend quite often (i.e. when using hand tools to finish the concrete), which puts a strain on their knees.
Candidates who aren’t able to keep up with these physical demands may be seen as safety liabilities.
The ability to take direction
Concrete workers typically take instructions from the job site’s foreman. In construction’s fast-paced environment, workers need to be capable of taking direction without taking offense (which may mean putting up with lots of yelling as people scramble to get things done).
The ability to learn on the job
Construction concrete workers often learn their craft on the job. With real dollars and contracts on the line, this is a very different learning environment than a classroom. It requires a unique approach to learning, which includes being upfront about the limits of one’s knowledge, lest they end up derailing the project.
As with all aspects of construction, things don’t always go as planned with concrete work. Consequently those who succeed in construction concrete jobs are adept problem solvers. Issues concrete workers commonly face include:
- severe time constraints (especially when the weather gets in the way of tight project deadlines)
- bad mixes
- poor site preparation (which can be due to a variety of factors, some beyond any subcontractor’s control)
Concrete workers looking to become subcontracting business owners need a skillset that goes far beyond the job site. They also need to be efficient at operating their business, which means making confident decisions regarding hiring, accounting, estimating, and bidding.
These skills can be obtained through business school and/or through working for other subcontracting business owners for several years.
Bridgit Bench is the resource management software of choice for concrete workers
If you own a concrete business and are looking to manage your resources (including workforce) more efficiently, look no further than Bridgit Bench. We built this resource management tool specifically for construction companies. Learn more about how subcontractors of all types are using Bridgit Bench to streamline everything from employee scheduling to equipment management.
We hope you’ve found this article helpful from the perspective of understanding what concrete workers do and how demand for their roles is changing. For more articles about construction management and the various roles that fall under its purview, visit our blog.