Infrastructure plays a vital role in our daily lives, but we often take it for granted. In fact, we may not give it a second thought until something goes wrong, such as a power outage or a road closure. Infrastructure encompasses the facilities and structures that keep the economy and our lives humming - things like roads and highways, bridges, phone lines and cellphone towers, water and sewage treatment plants, power-generating facilities, airport runways and control towers, dams and reservoirs, mass transit systems and more.
Not surprisingly, building, maintaining, repairing and inspecting all of these systems takes a lot of manpower in a diverse range of occupations, from planning and designing to building and monitoring. While many careers in infrastructure require a high school diploma and perhaps some additional training, others require an associate or bachelor’s degree. Most jobs pay higher than median wage and are predicted to grow faster than average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Construction is the largest sector of infrastructure-related occupations, and it is also the area that is expected to add the most jobs in the coming years. Here are a few diverse occupations to consider, with a range of salaries and education requirements:
Civil engineer: Civil engineers design and oversee the construction of public works and other large infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, buildings, and water and sewage systems. Civil engineers require a bachelor’s degree and can focus on a variety of specialties, from construction to transportation. Median annual wage is $87,060, and projected job growth is 6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Construction manager: Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget and supervise construction projects. They are among the highest paid of infrastructure-related occupations. A bachelor’s degree and construction experience or on-the-job training is typically preferred. Employment of construction managers is projected to grow 10%, faster than average for all occupations, the BLS says. Median annual salary is $95,260.
Surveyors: Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries and prepare sites for construction. They typically require a bachelor’s degree and must be licensed. Employment is expected to grow 6%, with a median annual wage of $63,420.
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters: Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair piping fixtures and systems. Most learn through apprenticeships or technical schools. Employment is expected to grow 14%, much faster than average, according to the BLS. The average median salary is $55,160.
Construction equipment operators: Construction equipment operators use heavy machinery to construct roads, buildings and other structures. They may have irregular schedules, including night work. Many construction equipment operators have a high school diploma and learn through on-the-job training, apprenticeship or technical school. Those who can operate multiple types of equipment generally have the best job opportunities. Employment is expected to grow 10%, with a median annual wage of $48,160.