Projects made with concrete, like the San Diego Central Courthouse, help advance the civilized world.
Credit: Morley Construction Projects made with concrete, like the San Diego Central Courthouse, help advance the civilized world.

To say this year’s World of Concrete was inspirational would be an understatement. While my wife and I walked around the Las Vegas Convention Center absorbing the enormousness of it all, it hit me once again how great concrete is. It inspired me to pass on my Top 10 reasons why anyone would be proud to work in concrete:

1. Working with concrete, we can create just about anything. People shape all sorts of artwork with concrete. People build entire homes with concrete, roof and all. Beyond countertops and sinks, even furniture is now being fashioned from concrete. The only limit is our imagination. 

2. Concrete endures. The Roman aqueducts are still standing after 2000 years. Think of the many concrete structures that have withstood the strongest earthquakes and hurricanes.

3. Some of the phenomenal benefits of working in concrete are the limitless possibilities of improving your pay and position. People with a high school education or less can work their way up to superintendent, project manager, or even own their own company. I should know. My dad didn’t graduate from high school, and after he was a foreman for a large union contractor, he started his own successful company. From apprenticeship programs to leadership opportunities, you’ll develop more working in concrete than anywhere else. 

4. Concrete tradesmen will always be in demand. Right now there’s a shortage of experienced help, which is great news for young people who are looking for respectable employment. It also offers job security for those of us with a few gray hairs. 

5. Concrete tests every fiber of your being and your capabilities, and it offers a sense of accomplishment. When you work in concrete, you’ve done something exceptional that few people could do. 

6. Without an infrastructure largely depending on concrete, everything would come to a standstill. We create the world’s best roads and bridges, the safest power plants, and we make it possible for clean water and sewage plants to sustain communities’ health.

7. Our trade is built on integrity. Concrete tradesmen can either cut the mustard or they can’t, and you know this as soon as they show up at the jobsite. Politicians and academics might be able to pull the wool over the eyes of their people, but there’s no room for posers in our world. 

8. Concrete is interesting and multifaceted. The challenges we face are fascinating and intellectually stimulating, from changing weather conditions to the different situations each new job presents. Innovations keep us on our toes as we adapt to new and better ways of doing a timeless job. 

9. The industry exposes you to the best mentors you’ll ever have. I can’t count all of the people who took their time to shape me. It’s humbling to think of all the great people to whom I’m indebted. 

10. Concrete advances the civilized world. Hospitals, colleges, laboratories, libraries, city halls, and all modes of travel depend on concrete’s rock solid foundation. Our world wouldn’t exist without us! Concrete is rewarding and satisfying. We enjoy an unlimited career path allowing us to experience boundless possibilities. Tell me why you’re pumped about working in concrete!

Craig Cottongim is certified in conflict resolution and is a long-time concrete finisher who is also a writer and communicator. E-mail craigcottongim@gmail.com.

VIDEO: Find out what how Concrete Construction columnist Craig Cottongim gets his ideas for his stories and what he thought of his first visit to World of Concrete.