Which Construction Jobs Are the Hardest?

While home improvement shows make work look easy, CraftJack's recent survey reveals what contractors and consumers consider to be the toughest jobs

Getty Images/ ZelmaB

Home shows have a way of making even the messiest, curse-worthy demolitions and tricky renovations look deceptively easy. They do, after all, need to fit weeks or months of work and filming into 30 minutes or less.

Contractors who are dripping in sweat while digging out rock, surrounded by sawdust while crafting the perfect fireplace mantel, contorting themselves while running new wires or pipes, know that home renovation reality is much more grueling and potentially dangerous than it looks on TV. And this is not always something consumers fully grasp.

To find out what tradesmen and women and homeowners perceived as the hardest jobs—those that are physically demanding and also demanding in ability—CraftJack decided to survey more than 1,600 contractors and about 650 consumers. They ranked 32 types of work, everything from plumbing and junk collecting to masonry, doors and windows.

Overall, carpentry rose to the top. This specialty seemed to have the highest respect, acknowledged as physically difficult and but also requiring expertise and solid training to master it well.

Demo, Roofs Rank as Tough on the Body

When it came to work that’s the most physically demanding, both contractors and consumers agreed on the top two jobs: demolition and roofing. Each requires plenty of strength, balance and caution to safely, successfully get the work done.

Contractors ranked carpentry as the third-most physically demanding job. Consumers were split on the third and fourth most demanding trades. Drywall/insulation and excavating both had about 8 percent of the votes, followed closely by landscaping.

Painters, carpet cleaners and electricians also self-ranked their specialties as physically demanding.

Electrical, Carpentry Rank High for Training

Electrical work led the pack for home improvement jobs requiring the most rigorous training and expertise. It had 23 percent of the vote from contractors and 35 percent of the vote from consumers. It was followed by carpentry, HVAC and creating cabinets and countertops. Trailing behind those was plumbing. Contractors listed plumbing at 8 percent, tying it with masonry and drywall and insulation.

Flooring and cleaning specialists also considered their crafts among the toughest to learn.

CraftJack, an online site matching consumer projects to available contractors, conducted the survey in November 2019. The age of the average respondent was 43. Look here for the CraftJack survey’s full details.

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Lisa Meyers McClintick
Lisa Meyers McClintick is an award-winning Minnesota-based freelancer specializing in travel across the Upper Midwest and to national parks across the United States. She has been a longtime contributor to USA Today, Midwest Living magazine, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and also has written for Minnesota Monthly, TravelChannel.com and AAA publications. Her specialties include watching wildlife and birding, harvest travel, hands-on art and history, gardens and wildflowers, quirky small towns and scenic outdoors. She's a member of Society of American Travel Writers and Midwest Travel Journalists Association, which named her the 2019 Travel Writer of the Year. She's also an award-winning photographer and teaches workshops on memoir and creative writing, photography, travel, and creating sketchbooks and journals.