Are We “Just Blue Collar?” Is The Construction Industry Undervalued? #ConstChat Recap

December 23, 2014 at 9:00 am  •  Posted in Construction  •  3 Comments

To make it within construction and the skilled trades, you gotta get your hands dirty and work your way up the totem pole—that’s no secret. And the road to triumph is full of opportunities and challenges that test you.

With all the prospects out there, why do some still define themselves as “just blue collar” workers? Is the construction industry undervalued as a whole?

Article Contents

If you didn’t know, #ConstChat is a series of weekly Twitter chats amongst construction-inclined folks. Every week or so, the host poses a construction-related question for interpretation. In this blog post, we’ll chat about why the skilled trades and construction industries are often undervalued—and why that’s crazy. (We’ll see what people have to say about that.) For the full recap of this #ConstChat, check out this blog post from Riggins Construction.

Is The Construction Industry Undervalued?

Mike Rowe, who hosted Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, thinks people with the dirtiest jobs are the most successful. (Read this blog post for a refresher.) He thinks dirty hands are a symbol of a job well done and that “…we’ve scrubbed the dirt off the face of work.” (Thanks, CNN Money, for that tidbit.)

Opportunities within the trades and construction are abundant. In 2012, there were over 485,000 positions for construction managers within the U.S. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an additional 78,000 new positions between now and 2022. For electricians, the BLS expects over 114,000 new jobs over the same time period, a 20 percent increase in the 580,000 positions available in 2012.

Assuming that a four-year degree is the only path to success and knowledge is unwise. But is there a divide between opportunity, education, and public perception? Is the industry’s image a career challenge?

Here’s What People Are Saying

A few months back, the guys at Riggins Construction asked an important question via #ConstChat:

“I was talking to a friend who works in the grocery industry who said she’s ‘just blue collar’ so professional development isn’t that critical. Of course, I disagree. But [do we] discount ourselves? And it got me thinking about us in construction. Are we ‘just blue collar?’ ”

Here’s what people had to say:

Opportunity & Education


It’s true. Some people don’t see the value in construction and the trades. (But that’s their problem.) And it sounds like Tess made her own luck, too. A college or university education is no longer a guarantee to success. Maybe it never was.

Safety & Public Perception


I couldn’t agree more. Construction jobs are more than “blue collar.” And safety should be priority #1. It’s up to contractors to advocate for total jobsite and building safety. (To beef up on jobsite safety, read this blog.)

I also share Tess’ enthusiasm about the future of the industry. No matter what people might think or say, there are plenty of opportunities within construction and the trades—both respectable, rewarding careers. As far as I’m concerned, the sky’s the limit.

Over To You

What’s your take on perceptions within construction? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below, or connecting with us on Twitter @GraybarESP or on Facebook.

Todd Reed, National Market ManagerAbout The Author
Todd Reed, National Market Manager

Husband to a professionally licensed architectural engineer and lighting designer (a.k.a. Lisa J. Reed) and son-in-law to an electrician, Todd knows the importance of efficiency, safety, and productivity for electrical contractors. Todd is a seasoned professional, with 5 years’ experience within a family-owned distribution business and 10 years as a Graybar employee. As National Market Manager at Graybar, Todd’s goal is to find the best products and solutions to help contractors work more efficiently, stay safe on the job, and win more productive and profitable business.

Sources & Credits
Riggins Construction: Overcoming Challenges – #ConstChat Recap
CNN Money: Cleaning up ‘Dirty Jobs’
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Electricians
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Construction Managers


  1. Tess Wittler / January 5, 2015 at 3:13 pm / Reply

    One of the reasons why I enjoy working within the construction industry is because people will always need homes, infrastructure and places to shop/obtain goods and services. Whether it is new construction or renovations, the construciton industry will always have opportunities for jobs. And I must admit, what you all do in creating these structures is incredibly fascniating to me – which is why I made my “job” to tell your project stories!

    Thanks for the mention, Todd.

    PS – Here’s more detail of how I “fell” into construction.

    • Todd Reed / January 5, 2015 at 5:55 pm / Reply

      Tess, thanks for your comments and for helping us to tell this story. Your story of how you “fell into construction” is advantageous for us to share. And you’re right: The construction industry is full of opportunities and job prospects. It’s up to us to spread the word about the joys of working in the trades.

  2. Bridget Willard / February 4, 2015 at 11:34 pm / Reply

    I just saw this blog post today. Thank you so much for linking to us and talking about the chat.

    This is a well thought out post.

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