How Veterans Are a Perfect Fit for the Construction Industry

veteran flag next to handful of tools and hardhat


Editorial Note: This article was brought to you courtesy of Rose Morrison, managing editor of Renovated.com.      


The construction industry is enduring a significant labor shortage due to widespread layoffs and resignations during COVID-19. Somebody needs to fill these empty positions, and military veterans are the ideal demographic. Here’s why veterans make perfect fits for many crucial roles in construction. 

Relevant Technical Skills 

The biggest reason veterans are capable construction workers is their technical skills and experience. Many veterans spend their entire military careers operating advanced machinery, from tanks to cranes to bulldozers. They know the basic maintenance and repair procedures. They’re competent and confident enough to get behind the wheel of any construction vehicle. 

Certain military roles transfer especially well to construction, such as engineering and mechanical positions. These organizations and programs have reputations for putting out some of the most skilled workers in the world: 

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 
  • U.S. Army Reserve Military Technician’s Program 
  • U.S. National Guard Technician’s Program 
  • U.S. Naval Construction Battalion 
  • U.S. Air Force Technical School 

The U.S. military also gets first dibs on many new types of technology to bolster national defenses. These are the most high-priority technical areas that would translate to construction:  

Current military members in technical positions are among the first people to learn new advancements in these subjects. These skills should be in high demand as the construction industry becomes more tech-centric. The next crop of veterans will be familiar with AI-powered monitoring systems, drones, 3D printing and other emerging construction technologies. 

Many noncombat military personnel also have relevant finance, accounting and human resources skills. No matter their position or branch of service, every veteran has a worthy skill set for a career in construction. 

Leadership and Teamwork 

Leadership and teamwork are important in any work setting but indispensable in dangerous professions. Combat veterans are accustomed to danger. All military members had to endure the tortures of boot camp, which is no small feat. Veterans are high-character individuals that can handle themselves in stressful situations.  

Veterans’ stress-management skills make them highly effective leaders. They can stay calm amid the hustle and bustle of a construction site and keep subordinates on task. The military drills these qualities into recruits until they become second nature.  

The ability to stay calm in the face of adversity also translates to excellent teamwork. Veterans can communicate and perform their jobs with precision in almost any situation. They respect their superiors and carry out orders in a timely fashion. They’re also used to working with people from all walks of life, so they can develop chemistry with anyone. 

Construction sites are less intense than warzones or basic training sessions. It won’t take long for veterans to acclimate themselves to the life of a construction worker. They’re used to risking their well-being for others every day. 

Unmatched Intangibles 

Aside from their leadership and teamwork skills, military veterans have unmatched intangibles for fast-paced environments. Their strong work ethic is ideal for manual labor industries like construction. Not everyone has the physical and mental stamina to keep up with a project’s many arduous tasks. Veterans do. 

Construction is a volatile industry. Weather, equipment malfunctions and human error often cause delays, but veterans are well-acquainted with these issues. They can work through harsh elements without a decline in performance and repair machinery under the most stressful circumstances. Mistakes don't affect their confidence or resolve. 

A project’s specifications can also change in the middle of construction. Veterans are used to unpredictable jobs. They’re trained to stay alert and adapt to unforeseen problems without complaint. They expect constant change. If a project goes awry, veterans provide a much-needed stabilizing presence. 

Veterans also pride themselves on organization. Making their beds, marching in formation and handling firearms all required meticulous organizational skills. These abilities translate to their other hobbies and professions. Many veterans exhibit the same habits for the rest of their lives because of their training. 

Lastly, veterans have the appropriate sense of urgency for construction. Deadlines don’t affect their performance. They can stay on-task without constant supervision because they understand the importance of finishing on time. They have the unshakeable mindset to hold themselves accountable and complete the mission, no matter what. 

Educational Opportunities 

Education is one of the biggest obstacles that veterans face when returning home. They don’t have the same college backgrounds as most other people in the workforce. This factor puts them at a disadvantage in the hiring process for well-paying jobs in any industry, not just construction. 

Several nationwide construction associations have pledged to help veterans reacclimate to the slower pace of civilian life. These resources and opportunities give them a stronger educational background to build a post-service career in construction.  

1. Associated General Contractors of America 

Member firms with the AGC have made veterans a top priority. Their training programs have lessons in teamwork and problem-solving. They also provide hands-on experience with the latest construction equipment. Earning the status of a certified contractor is a big advantage for people first entering the construction industry. 

The AGC also has long-standing partnerships with other contracting organizations such as Go Build, Build Your Future and I Build America. These groups offer veteran-focused resources that show the challenges, benefits and requirements of working in construction. 

2. Hiring Our Heroes 

The AGC also joined a national initiative called Hiring Our Heroes in 2014, which pledged to hire 100,000 veterans by the end of 2019. This initiative includes a corporate fellowship program so veterans can make relevant connections with professionals. The AGC’s member firms have access to exclusive networking events, job boards and other online recruiting tools to find potential veteran hires. 

3. Hard Hat Heroes 

Hard Hat Heroes is another job training organization that helps veterans earn free credentials from the National Center for Construction Education and Research. Employers hold NCCER credentials in high regard. They improve veterans' chances of finding an apprenticeship, earning higher wages or getting promoted. 

The HHH initiative even has specific training resources for the military’s different branches and ranks. Any veteran can benefit from this experience, no matter their service background. 

4. Helmets to Hardhats 

Helmets to Hardhats is a nonprofit group focusing primarily on the National Guard and Army Reserve. Retired and active members of these branches receive in-depth training and get connected to potential employers. Federal apprenticeship programs are especially valuable because they’re 100% free for military members. 

5. DOE Veterans Employment Initiative  

The U.S. Department of Energy also committed to a veterans employment initiative in 2018. This one could be huge for the construction industry moving forward. Thousands of green construction jobs will open up as energy efficiency becomes more mainstream in modern architecture. Veterans can fill these positions and have stable careers in a growing field. 

The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Build Back Better Act also project that 1.5 million construction jobs will emerge every year for the next decade. These positions include building new roads, bridges, airports and public transportation vehicles.  

Room for Advancement 

The construction industry has lots of room for advancement. Millions of workers have resigned or retired at the same time, contributing to the nationwide labor shortage. They left behind many high-ranking, high-paying positions that still need to be filled. More than 528,000 jobs in construction are unoccupied as of August 2022. 

New positions will also emerge as construction companies abandon wasteful traditions for more efficient technologies, sustainable building practices, and sustainable building materials. Veterans with relevant skills and experience have a chance to advance in the industry right away.  

Additionally, veterans have a distinct advantage over their civilian counterparts. They have a proven ability to lead other people in high-stakes situations. This skill alone makes them more qualified for management positions than most other job-seekers. 

Work-Life Balance 

After suffering severe physical and emotional trauma, 48% of veterans struggle to return to their old lives. Combat experience is a huge factor, but even some noncombat veterans are unprepared to become civilians again. They’ve worked in fast-paced, stressful environments for so long that they forgot the meaning of work-life balance. 

Military service is also lonely. Veterans form lifelong friendships with other service members but often spend years away from their families. Making up for that lost time is a huge priority for veterans when returning home.  

The construction industry has a responsibility to help veterans regain a healthy work-life balance and spend time with their families. Companies can provide part-time schedules or generous PTO to incentivize more veterans to join the workforce. They devoted their lives to defending our country, so they earned the right to a little flexibility. 

Get a Fresh Start in Construction 

The experiences veterans gain during their years of service will stick with them forever. They are high-character people with the technical and intangible skills to succeed in any construction job. The industry is currently littered with opportunities, from entry-level positions to high-paying management roles.  

However, veterans often need help returning to normalcy. Training programs and nonprofit groups can help them find fulfilling jobs that utilize their skills and allow them to live in peace as civilians again. 


This is a guest post written by Rose Morrison, managing editor of Renovated.com 


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