The construction industry has long been considered a relatively analog sector. Though there is certainly a great deal of machinery involved, it is still most often associated with hands-on activities. Experts in engineering, building, and architecture applying their talents to creating everything from basic housing to impressive works of art. Yet, just as with almost every area of our contemporary way of life, there are ways advanced digital technology is transforming the construction sector.
The technological tools now commonplace in construction are instrumental in making projects safer and more efficient for workers, alongside being more environmentally friendly. Some of these take relatively familiar forms — handheld mobile devices to collect, analyze and share information are a part of modern life. While others are more advanced, like strength-augmenting exoskeletons and drone-mounted monitoring tools. An exciting aspect of this is that the industry increasingly needs construction professionals with tech skills to make the best use of these tools.
Whether you already have experience in technology or are considering a career change, it’s worth taking a moment to review how you can take advantage of this shift.
Graphic design techniques have developed significantly over the last couple of decades. Various elements of computer-aided design (CAD) have become commonplace in the construction industry with others continuing to develop and find new applications. By honing your skills in this area, you can expand into different career areas.
Perhaps the most obvious use for computer modeling is in architecture. Alongside traditional blueprints, there is an increasing demand for design professionals skilled in creating 3D models of properties. You can use skills in this area to develop virtual plans and provide physical 3D printed models. CAD is a great tool for understanding not just what the internal schematics of a construction project are but also communicating what it is like to practically walk through a property. Indeed, this is fast becoming a standard demand by not just developers but also real estate agents and homeowners.
There are careers using CAD software emerging that specialize in 4D building information modeling (BIM). This goes further than simply creating architectural designs and simulates the entire construction process of a property from start to finish. Modelers can input information on the surface being built upon, construction materials and techniques being used, and even the flow of machinery around the building site. This allows construction managers and architects to understand whether they can produce work on certain schedules and even experiment with alternative solutions to common construction problems.
For many people, data analytics and the construction industry can seem worlds apart. Yet, one thing that has become increasingly clear throughout our digital age is just how valuable a resource’s data can be across almost all sectors. Just as valuable in construction are those who have the skills to analyze and interpret it for projects.
Some professional areas you can use data analytics skills include:
It cannot be overstated how vital safety is in any construction project. This includes the protection of workers, the stability of the local area, and the health of those using the property after construction. While elements like tech safety wearables have become a familiar presence on building sites, using data analytics before, during, and after projects is arguably more important. Professionals in this field plan the relevant data collection protocols for the specific construction project, utilize tools like artificial intelligence (AI) software to create algorithms, and create reports on the results. Skills in this area can make you instrumental in identifying, classifying, and mitigating risks on a project.
An important part of any construction project is getting resources and workers to sites efficiently and making sure they run to schedule. Industrial distribution is an expanding field with a variety of roles for those with analytical mindsets. Logisticians, in particular, are a key part of the supply chain and utilize a combination of technological, analytical, and communicative abilities to solve challenges for projects. AI and machine learning platforms are becoming an important part of the logistics management process, which alongside sensors in the internet of things (IoT), is used in everything from route management to scheduling.
Coding and development
Anybody who works in the construction industry knows not all vital careers take place on the building site itself. There is a great deal of important planning and preparation work that goes on behind the scenes contributing to the successful and safe completion of any project. In recent years this includes workers with professional programming skills.
Some of the career focuses for these skills include:
Augmented and virtual reality
It can feel like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are still futuristic tools. Yet, there has been a significant focus on their development over the last decade. The result is they have practical use across multiple industries. As such, VR and AR coding professionals are being employed to create training software simulating hazardous environments to introduce workers to dangerous scenarios safely. Professionals are also in demand for recreating final builds in virtual spaces so buyers can view and explore real estate remotely.
Many construction activities are controlled or supported by mobile software applications. There are some aimed at giving contractors and site workers collaborative cloud access to blueprints and files, while others take care of the day-to-day administration of time card punching. Some apps have a key role to play in safety; helping to identify, log, and share information on site hazards or allow operators to control automated machinery from a safe distance. This, alongside the aforementioned adoption of AI software, means there is a demand for software developers specializing in addressing the challenges of the contemporary construction industry.
The construction industry is changing and this is in large part due to the access to advanced technology. This has created a variety of career options for workers with skills around diverse digital tools. Computer modeling, data analytics, and coding are just a few of the growing fields helping to keep projects efficient, organized, and safe. By exploring how your skills can match the changing needs of the industry, you can discover a fascinating career and contribute to construction projects.