The Construction Veteran Podcast

Foundation of Success: Balancing Education and Experience in the Construction Industry

November 12, 2023 The Construction Veteran
The Construction Veteran Podcast
Foundation of Success: Balancing Education and Experience in the Construction Industry
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Show Notes Transcript

Are you just starting out in the construction industry and wondering what's more important: education or experience? Brace yourself for a deep-dive into the controversial topic. We'll explore the value of both, unearthing the truth about what it takes to get your foot in the door and rise through the ranks. From the essential certifications for beginners to the power of hands-on experience for career advancement, we dissect it all. And keep an ear out for personal stories and professional insights about overcoming construction site challenges and mastering the unpredictable.

And there's more — technology has rocked the construction industry, and not always in the most obvious ways. We'll touch on how technology has lessened the significance of certain educational aspects while emphasizing the importance of experience. A word to the wise: you need both to build a successful career in construction. Don't miss the hint about an upcoming episode on networking and relationship building in this dynamic industry. So, tune in and gear up for an enlightening episode that might just redefine your career trajectory in the construction industry!

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Speaker 1:

Welcome back to the Construction Veteran. I'm Scott Friend and today we're going to talk about education versus experience. I can almost hear the trolls getting excited about this one. Before we start today's episode, I want to talk to you guys about a partnership that I started with Aerial Resupply Coffee. There are a lot of veteran coffee companies out there, but I followed Mike's from the very start. I really enjoy his product. I really enjoy the customer service that he has and he's a man of his word. He also posts some pretty funny content online, so I'll send the link below. If you guys want to get a 10% discount, use Construction Vet. That's Construction Vet at Aerial Resupply Coffee. So go to the website type in the discount code and again I'll link it below.

Speaker 1:

We've talked about education before and what types of certifications that you should get in the industry. But what's valued more Education or experience? Well, that's kind of up for debate and really I hate to say the catch all, but it depends it really does depend on what you're trying to do in the industry. We talked previously about what types of certifications, what types of education that you must have just to get to that ground level. But what if you're looking for the next step in your career. That education is going to help, but the experience is going to help tremendously as well. Honestly, I think there's a lot of leaders out there that would rather take someone with 10 years of experience that may not have a degree but understands the industry through and through. Then someone may be fresh out of school that doesn't have any of that experience yet, but that's not a catch all. This is a very broad subject to cover, but I would generally say that experience is typically going to trump the education in most facets of the industry. Sometimes you're not even going to get to that first step without the education behind you. However, if you've been like me and spent most of your career out in the field and you've decided to pursue a higher education towards, maybe, design or something else that you want to do engineering, that's going to help you that much further. Maybe you just want to expand what you're doing right now, whether that's you want to stay in the construction side of things, maybe you want to do the administrative side, like the office, the PM route, or maybe you want to be in charge of more people.

Speaker 1:

You need to show that experience that you have, show those leadership experiences that you've had in the past, that you've overcome some sort of adversity on a job site or on a major project. I think there's a lot of people that are going to disagree with me, but that's my stance. I really think that experience will trump education in most cases, especially with the technology that we have today in this industry. I mean, it's pretty easy to look up some codes, maybe some equations that you used to have to know offhand. We basically walk around with an entire code book in our hands, right. Same thing goes for maybe, any equations that we need to do. We've even seen OSHA change the rules where you don't have to have the massive binder on your job site. Now you can just have it mobile, like on an iPad, laptop, maybe even your cell phone. So that's a whole other subject we covered in another video. If you want to check that out, that's in my technology video. But where we're going to focus on today is that experience.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes you might be in a pickle on a job site and you don't have service, but it's that experience that's going to carry you through that scenario or situation and what you've done in the past. Every industry we learn from our mistakes, right? There's no difference in construction. Sure, there's always ways to do things, maybe how a drawing shows it or how a book says we're supposed to do it. But those things don't always work and we have to rely on our previous experiences on other jobs to understand how can we get over this hurdle. I figured you could say hello to the pups while we're out here, anyway. So let's say you have some sort of a situation that you recalled dealing with five, ten years ago on a job site. You're going to use that experience to overcome that adversity or situation again, the same thing like you would do in the service. Right, if you were a senior NCO or maybe a warrant officer. You're probably not going to put like that E1, e2 and try to do the situation. Maybe if you're in the Marine Corps, you know Lance Corporals has an E3. They sometimes tend to get quite a bit of leadership, especially if they've been in combat. But I can say that's probably not going to happen in the working world, especially in construction. Right, you're not going to put a two-year apprentice in charge of something, but that doesn't mean that their opinion isn't valid. You're still going to take everybody's experience and put it to good use in that situation that you're dealing with.

Speaker 1:

Sometimes I would go so far as to say that maybe we undervalue experience too much because of those rank and organizational titles, things like that. I'll give you a great example. We work with a lot of really good people, sometimes on the general contracting side, that come from the trades, and we have to rely on their experience as the experts, from what they came from whether they were an electrician, plumber, what have you you know they can speak to those situations and it's their experience that we rely on to say hey, man, I really don't know a lot about this, but I'm going to trust you because you've done it. What do you think we should do in this situation? And again, I'm not bashing education by any means, right, I'm a big believer in it. I think you should always further your education, whether that's certifications, higher education of some sort, you know, going to a more advanced trade school. By all means Do it. I will say we all know how valued that senior leaders experience is, regardless of how much the education they might have. We're going to rely on them and the experiences that they've had to get us over these situations. So keep that in mind.

Speaker 1:

But if you were to ask me my opinion, I would say that I value experience over the education too. I think education is great. It gives you that launching point to figure out. You know, how do I stick to things, how do I hold out for four years to get a degree? Man, that's pretty hefty in itself, but I think, in this industry especially, that education, while it does get you pretty far, that experience is going to get you further, because things are changing every single day Technology, the way we build things, the way people act, etc. So experience means a lot.

Speaker 1:

So, to wrap things up, really I want to encourage you to go out there and get some sort of experience somehow Guaranteed. You know somebody somehow that's in the construction industry or the design industry. You may be somehow construction adjacent. You might have a friend's parent that's in the industry. You might have somebody that you know. Feel free to reach out to me. I'm always willing to help. I'm actually working on a training course right now to kind of give you those initial steps on how you can get in, especially if you're fresh getting out of the service. We're going to touch on relationships and networking in another video. I'm really looking forward to that because I think there's a lot of weight to that. But right now the best thing that you can do is look at the industry as a whole, figure out where it is you want to take your career and start figuring out those steps that you need to take to work toward that. Good luck to you guys. I appreciate you sticking with me again through another video. Please like and subscribe. Thanks again.