13th Jun 2022
Construction Jobs: A Comprehensive Career Guide
The construction industry offers job seekers lots of opportunities. In this article, learn some of the job opportunities that exist in the construction sector, how to find them and the duties, skills and requirements of different roles. You will also be given information on writing a construction CV and developing your career. Read more.
The UK construction sector offers lots of opportunity for new and experienced tradespeople to join and progress in their career. There are many areas of the industry to specialise in from residential builds through to roofing, plumbing and even commercial construction work. With a variety of work on offer, there is something to suit many experience levels and skill sets.
A construction worker is an employee who works as part of a construction team, carrying out specific tasks that require physical labour or skilled trades to complete. The work will involve operating heavy machinery and tools of the trade while working under the supervision of the site manager.
Some of the most popular construction jobs in the UK include:
Quality, Environment, Health and Safety - Roles in this area of construction focus on ensuring that the project is completed safely and to a high standard. Quality, environment, health and safety managers work closely with other members of the construction team to ensure that all aspects of the build meet the required standards.
Quantity Surveyor - A quantity surveyor is responsible for cost management on construction projects. They work with the construction team to ensure that the project stays within budget and that any financial risks are identified and managed.
Building Surveyor - A building surveyor provides professional advice on the construction, design and maintenance of buildings. They work with a variety of clients, including property developers, architects and engineers.
Architect - An architect is responsible for the design of buildings and other structures. They work with clients to understand their needs and requirements, and then produce detailed plans and specifications.
Civil Engineer - A civil engineer is responsible for the design and construction of infrastructure projects, such as roads, bridges and sewerage systems. They work with a team of engineers and other professionals to ensure that the project is completed to a high standard.
Project Manager - A project manager is responsible for the overall management of a construction project. They work with the construction team to ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget and to the required standard.
Scaffolder - A scaffolder is responsible for the construction of scaffolding, which is used to provide access to working areas on construction projects. Scaffolders work closely with other members of the construction team to ensure that the scaffolding is erected safely and to a high standard.
Labourer - Labourers are responsible for carrying out a variety of tasks on construction projects. They work closely with other members of the construction team to ensure that the project is completed on time and to a high standard.
Carpenter/Joiner - Carpenters and joiners are responsible for the construction of timber-based products, such as doors, windows and staircases. They work with a variety of tools and machinery to produce high-quality products.
Electrician - Electricians are responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of electrical systems. They work with a variety of clients, including domestic, commercial and industrial customers.
Plumber - Plumbers are responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of plumbing systems. They work with a variety of clients, including domestic, commercial and industrial customers.
Heating Engineer - Heating engineers are responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of heating systems. They work with a variety of clients, including domestic, commercial and industrial customers.
Construction Manager - A construction manager is responsible for the overall management of a construction project. They work with the construction team to ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget and to the required standard.
Site Engineer - A site engineer is responsible for the planning and execution of construction projects. They work with a team of engineers and other professionals to ensure that the project is completed to a high standard.
Structural Engineer - A structural engineer is responsible for the design of structures, such as buildings, bridges and tunnels. They work with a variety of clients, including architects, developers and contractors.
Building Control Officer - A building control officer is responsible for ensuring that all construction projects comply with building regulations. They work with a variety of clients, including architects, developers and contractors.
Health and Safety Manager - A health and safety manager is responsible for ensuring that all construction projects are carried out safely. They work with a variety of clients, including architects, developers and contractors.
The work that you will undertake in construction will be specific to your role. For example, if you are a site manager you will be responsible for the overall coordination of the construction project. This includes liaising with clients, architects and other tradespeople. If you are a labourer, your work will be manual and you may be required to undertake tasks such as digging trenches or lifting and moving materials.
As a construction worker, you will need to be comfortable working outdoors in all weather conditions. You will also need to be physically fit as the work can be demanding.
Some construction jobs will require you to have specific qualifications or experience. However, there are many entry-level roles which do not require any experience. If you are interested in working in construction, there are a number of ways to get started. You could look for construction jobs online, or approach construction companies directly.
Whatever route you decide to take, the construction industry offers a wide range of exciting and challenging roles as well as providing opportunities for progression.
Entry, Middle and Senior Construction Roles
For those looking to move into the construction industry , there are a number of entry-level roles which do not require any previous experience or qualifications. This will typically include a labouring role.
If you have some experience or qualifications, there are also a number of middle management roles which might be suitable. These roles might include:
· Site Manager
· Civil Engineering Technician
· Building Surveyor
If you are looking for a senior role in construction, you will need several years’ experience in the industry. Senior roles might include:
· Quantity Surveyor
· Project Manager
Many people who enter the construction industry do so with a trade such as bricklaying, plumbing or carpentry and they are brought in at different stages of a build to carry out their work. For trade based jobs, you will be expected to obtain a qualification, typically an NVQ level 2 or level 3. These qualifications confirm that your skills have reached the required standard so you can perform the trade or profession to a certain standard. For some trades such as electrical work or plumbing, you must learn certain skills and be assessed on quality and safety standards before you are qualified. There are also industry bodies that you can join that confirms you are registered in a trade or profession. One of the most common ways in which a tradesperson becomes qualified is through an apprenticeship.
If you are new to construction, you may be able to start your career on an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is a great way to learn while you earn and can give you the chance to work towards a qualification. There are also a number of construction courses available which can help you to get started in your career. Apprenticeships will usually last two or three years, two years for NVQ level 2 and then another year to obtain your level 3 qualification. They combine practical, on site work with classroom based learning that allows you to build a portfolio. Usually you will spend four days on site and then a day or a day and a half in the classroom to learn the theory. The combination of theory and practice will qualify you at either NVQ level 2 or 3 following successful submission of a written portfolio and workplace observations. Apprenticeships are available in many trades and they will equip you with the skills, knowledge and expertise to practice competently in your chosen trade.
Which Recruiters/Employers Have Construction Jobs
There are a number of construction companies operating in the UK, offering a variety of construction jobs. Some of the most popular employers in the construction industry include:
· Property builders such as Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Homes and Redrow
· Infrastructure companies such as Kier Group, Balfour Beatty and Carillion
· Civil engineering firms such as Laing O’Rourke, Mace Group and Vinci
· Specialist construction companies such as Galliford Try and Interserve
How to Find Construction Jobs
Finding construction jobs is relatively straightforward with many searches starting online. You could search online job boards, approach construction companies directly, or use a recruitment agency.
Some popular online job boards for construction jobs include:
· Construction Jobs
· Construction Job Board
· Total Jobs
There are also several specialist construction job boards, such as:
Requirements for a Job in Construction
The requirements from employers for a job in construction will vary depending on the role. For entry-level roles, you will not usually need any experience or qualifications. Often, you will learn on the job or gain a recognised qualification through a work based learning route or apprenticeship. However, for middle management and senior roles, you will typically need several years’ experience in the industry. Some construction jobs may also require specific qualifications or training. The more senior the role, the more expertise you will need to demonstrate. For some roles such as those in engineering you may need a degree.
When applying for a job in construction, it is important to highlight any relevant experience or qualifications that you have. If you don’t have any previous experience in the industry, you could consider doing some voluntary work or an internship to gain some valuable experience.
There are certain trades such as an electrician, bricklayer, carpenter or plumber where you will need to obtain the relevant industry qualification. You may also need to register with relevant industry bodies to show that you possess the level of experience and competence required to perform your duties in line with UK building standards and regulations.
Duties will include:
· Preparing the ground before construction work begins
· Marking out and digging trenches for pipework and foundations
· Building temporary structures such as scaffolding or frameworks
· Operating machinery to lay concrete, install floors and put in place beams
· Laying pipework
· Laying roadways, kerbstones and pavements
· Operating heavy plant machinery
Requirements for a Construction Job
· Employers advertising for construction jobs will often state the following requirements:
· Knowledge and understanding of the construction sector including basic engineering
· An understanding of mixing and pouring construction materials
· The ability to operate construction equipment
· Excellent balance and hand-eye coordination
· Accuracy when taking measurements
· Strong teamworking skills
If you are applying for a job in construction, here are some of the questions that you may be asked in an interview:
· Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer
· What made you want to work in construction?
· What qualifications or experience do you have that makes you suitable for this role?
· Describe a time when you had to work under pressure
· What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful construction worker?
· What do you think are the biggest challenges faced by the construction industry?
There may also be technical questions specifically those that relate to a trade or profession such as engineering. Before interview, always research some of the likely questions that the interviewer is likely to ask which are specific to the company. This will give you the best opportunity to succeed as you can prepare and plan your answers.
What to Highlight in Your CV
Working on a construction site allows you to develop a range of skills which are relevant to your specialist area. If, for example you work as an electrician on a construction site, you would need to highlight your electrical qualifications and what type of electrics you work with. Likewise, if you are plumber, you will need to draw attention to your plumbing skills, competencies and qualifications. The construction CV is your opportunity to showcase what you can do and the key skills that you have.
Some of the other skills that you may want to highlight in your CV include:
· The ability to work long hours and at weekends when required
· The ability to work outdoors in all weather conditions
· A good level of fitness
· The ability to lift heavy objects
· The ability to use a variety of tools and machinery
· Any skills that you have particularly in relation to mixing and measuring materials, systems or processes that you are familiar with
How to Develop Your Career in Construction
As well as participating in vocational qualifications in construction to ensure that your skills meet the required industry standards, it is also important to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. If you wish to progress in your career to become a manager or coordinator, developing your career is even more important.
Developing your career will involve much more than simply participating in refresher training to keep your skills up to date. It will involve going one step further and pursuing new opportunities to develop and learn in a professional capacity.
There are a number of ways to develop your career in construction. You could progress into a management role, move into a different area of construction such as civil engineering, or start your own construction company. You may also wish to move from a general construction worker into something more specialist such as engineering or project management.
If you are interested in becoming a manager, you could consider studying for a professional qualification such as the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) Level 6 Diploma in Construction and Infrastructure Management. This qualification will give you the skills and knowledge that you need to progress into a management role.
You may also look to mentorships where you work with a senior member of the construction team to learn the skills you need from them. This experience will prove extremely beneficial when it comes to applying for more senior roles.
If you are interested in moving into a different area of construction, you could consider studying for a professional qualification such as the Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES) Level 6 Diploma in Civil Engineering. This qualification will give you the skills and knowledge that you need to progress into a civil engineering role.
Due to the multiple roles and specialist areas in construction, there are plenty of opportunities to progress. It is important to research the different options available to you and to consider what route would be the best fit for your skills, experience and qualifications. In this article you have learned:
· The opportunities that exist in construction
· How to enter the industry
· The different trades that you could specialise in
· The ways in which you can progress in your career
Further Reading and Resources
Take your research of construction jobs further with these top resources: