Construction is one of the oldest industries in existence. Thousands of years ago, man was using the materials available to them to build incredible monuments and shelters. Since then, we’ve created structures not only in every shape and size, but we’ve done it in the most fascinating environments imaginable.
Ranging across deserts, seas, mines and skyscrapers, you can find work in just about any conceivable place on the planet. Each occupation comes with its own set of challenges, skill set and traveling schedule. Often, you may be required to put in several years of work experience before jumping into the “exciting” work environments offered here.
If you’re looking for unique places to master your craft, check out these promising careers.
Construction Jobs: Salaries & Settings
Average Salary: $43,000
Unique Environment: Outside Skyscrapers
At the heart of their work, a glazier is responsible for hand-picking, measuring, forming and installing glass. They use a variety of techniques for their glass, with special heating, insulation with gas and sealing with a chemical coating. Glaziers often use a form of float glass, developed by Alastair Pilkington over 60 years ago for architectural uses.
Of course, any structure that uses glass requires the work of a glazier, at least indirectly. That includes skyscrapers: Hundreds of feet off the ground, sometimes in heavy winds, glaziers carefully install these thick window panes. They move horizontally across the building with a strong safety harness and a prayer.
Average Salary: $75,000
Unique Environment: Submarines & Vessel Engine Rooms
As part of the crew, a ships engineer leads the maintenance and repair of most mechanical equipment inside a vessel. Depending on the engineer’s specialization, this may include electrical cords and wires, sonar and radio systems, refrigeration, heating and rudder systems (steering). But most important – they are in charge of the engine. The engineer and technicians work tirelessly to make sure the power source of the ship is in tip-top shape.
Though technicians often do more of the hands-on work, ships engineers will often stay on the vessel and work among the crew. Even on larger boats, spaces are tight and there’s only so many places one person can go for privacy. Still, sunrises on the ocean are nothing short of magnificent.
Underground Utility Construction Worker
Average Salary: $60,000
Unique Environment: Underground Tunnels
If you can’t find something else to do, dig ditches, right? This is an unfortunate stereotype that disregards the skill and hard work of underground utility construction workers.
Ranging from a few to several 100 feet down, these men and women aid in the development and repair of building foundations, pipelines for telecommunications and natural gas, television and internet cables, and storm drains. They may work with some hefty equipment, including horizontal drills, jackhammers, small excavators, backhoes, hydrovacs and tillers.
Much of their time is spent below ground level. That may mean pasting mortar in a dark sewer tunnel or digging out a city sidewalk to install cable. They also have to be conscious of potential cave-ins, especially when they’re working in underground shelters that were built many years ago.
Average Salary: $50,000
Unique Environment: Forests & Wilderness
No, you’re not a lumberjack just because you wear the shirt. Working across the globe, these workers spend their time in our beautiful forests…chopping them down (as long as it’s sustainable, we’re not complaining). Like all construction jobs, you don’t start off as top dog. You’ll probably begin as a chokerman, a grunt worker who helps transport felled logs by tying cables around them.
If you play your cards right, you’ll move up to a feller, operating chainsaws, cranes and the like. Lumberjacks work wherever the trees grow to maturity: Cold mountains, hot rainforests, windy plains and tropical islands. They must avoid many dangers like falling timber, flying cables, wood debris and even forest fires. The biggest risk? Their work sites are usually many miles away from emergency care.
Average Salary: $35,000
Unique Environment: Old, decaying structures
It’s not really “construction” in the traditional sense, but these guys are aiding in cleaning up one of the construction industries’ biggest mistakes: asbestos
Asbestos removers are usually small teams that have highly specialized cleaning equipment. They use government-regulated vacuums and techniques for removing these materials. The biggest danger of asbestos is its spread into the air, so removers are careful to completely seal off these areas using plastic sheeting, tape and other methods.
They pull in the particles with vacuums that cause negative air pressure in targeted rooms. Throughout this process, workers are protected from head to toe with suits and gas masks (HAZMAT). As you may imagine, removers work in older buildings – sometimes decaying to the point of future demolition.
Average Salary: $55,000
Unique Environment: Oil rigs, hyperbaric chambers
Underwater welders make the water their home, working in oceans and freshwater lakes. They have a mechanical knack and love the challenges of underwater construction. Besides underwater welding, these divers salvage vessels, cut entanglements, inspect leaks and drill into ocean floors. They face their own set of dangers, including decompression sickness, but the rewards are many.
Any structure or vessel in the water may require the services of underwater welders. Some specialize in offshore saturation diving, while others stick to surface level jobs with higher visibility. New environments mean new opportunities on a daily basis. And if you’re willing, you can travel around the world and experience more places than most see in their entire lives.