Ready to lay the foundations for a new career?
If you’re a practical person and the idea of being stuck in an office all day brings you out in a cold sweat, a career in the construction industry could be your true calling. Not sure what role is right for you?
Here are some roles you could consider, and some of our top tips to help you get to there:
What they do: Plan and design buildings. This could be coming up with ideas for new structures, supervising construction work, or even overseeing renovation and restoration projects. Architects can work with structures of all shapes and sizes, and could work for a specific employer or on a self-employed basis.
What you need: You’ll need five years of training at graduate and post-graduate level. Creativity and excellent problem solving skills are also an absolute necessity. You’ll need to be good at keeping to strict deadlines, so the ability to stay calm under pressure will certainly be a useful commodity.
What you can earn: Typically around £20,000 for a trainee position, rising to somewhere around £40,000 once fully qualified and experienced. Salaries may be even higher for those working on premium projects.
Perfect for: People who never let go of Lego.
Our advice: Once you’ve completed your degree, register as an Architect with the Architects Registration Board and become a chartered member of the RIBA. Not only will it help keep you up-to-date with the latest developments in architecture, it will also look great on your CV and help you stand out from similar candidates.
What they do: The clue is pretty much in the name with this one. Bricklayers build and restore walls, chimneys, walkways, and other forms of masonry. Basically anything you can think of which is built using bricks. Work includes measuring areas, cutting bricks to size, mixing mortar and layering structures correctly in order to adhere to strict health and safety standards.
What you need: Being a Bricklayer is an extremely physical position, meaning that a good level of strength and personal fitness will be required. You’ll need to be a practical person, and methodical in your approach to work. If you have a penchant for ‘guesstimates’, you will not last long as a bricklayer. A degree is not necessary.
What you can earn: £15,000 as an apprentice, rising to around £30,000 with experience.
Perfect for: People who take a very literal interpretation of Pink Floyd songs.
Our advice: Many Bricklayers start out in the construction industry as Labourers. These are generally more entry-level and attainable positions, and will provide the valuable site experience you need to embark on a career as a Trainee Bricklayer.
What they do: Build, repair and assemble structures using wood and other strong materials, such as concrete and steel. This could be for ‘construction’ purposes (working on outdoor construction sites) or for what’s known as ‘finishing’ (working inside homes and commercial buildings on things such as doors, cabinets, ceiling and staircases).
What you need: You do not need any formal qualifications to become a carpenter. However, carpentry is a skilled trade, and being good with your hands and having a great eye for detail will be vital to progress in this industry. The ability to handle power tools without inflicting major damage will be similarly essential.
What you can earn: Typically around £14,000 as an unqualified and inexperienced Carpenter, rising to the £30,000 mark with a few years under your (tool) belt.
Perfect for: People who love playing with wood.
Our advice: You do not need any formal qualifications to become a carpenter, although you may need some previous experience to get started. If you’re new to the industry, apprenticeship schemes can be a great way to get started, allowing you to practically learn in a professional environment.
What they do: Take responsibility for all aspects of a project, from its initial inception through to its conclusion. Project Managers work to a series of pre-determined goals and often to strict deadlines, and are necessary in ensuring constructions are completed to time, budget and quality requirements.
What you need: Successful Project Managers will need exceptional organisational skills, and must be able to manage, motivate and delegate to your team for the good of the project. No formal qualifications are necessary, although specific qualifications relevant to the industry will certainly help you get started.
What you can earn: Salaries will generally start out at around the £20,000 mark, although experienced Project Managers can easily earn double that, especially with a proven track record of success.
Perfect for: People who are a little too protective of their planners.
Our advice: If you’re finding it hard to break into project management, a course could be the perfect way to kick-start your career. PRINCE2® courses are the industry standard when it comes to qualifications, and after completing an online foundation course you will be able to begin applying for positions right away.
What they do: Compile estimates and carry out feasibility studies to calculate how much building work will cost. They may also draw up bids for contracts, and monitor projects to make sure all work meet the budget, as well ensuring that all health and safety regulations are met and buildings meet legal and quality standards.
What you need: If you’re a mathematical person, becoming a Quantity Surveyor could be the perfect career move for you. You’ll need highly developed analytical skills, business awareness and an in-depth understanding of using complex data. A degree will be necessary to become a chartered surveyor.
What you can earn: Trainee Estimator salaries will be around £18,000. Fully qualified Estimators should earn between £25,000 and £40,000, and Senior Surveyors could be paid double this amount.
Perfect for: People who are very good at
guessing making calculated decisions.
Our advice: If you’re considering a surveying but aren’t sure whether or not you can commit to a degree, there are a few short-term options out there which may be more suitable for your situation. A foundation degree, for example, will only take a year to complete and is also incredibly flexible, allowing you to fit your studies around your current commitments.
Other construction and property roles to consider: Facilities Manager, Painter & Decorator, Plasterer, Steel Fixer, Welder.
Here are some of our top tips for finding a job in the construction & property industry:
- Be positive – Many of these positions require previous experience. However, you needn’t be put off. Start out in entry-level or trainee roles, and gain work experience in the area wherever you can. Career progression can be relatively quick for fast learners.
- Be focused – Where do you want your career to take you? Saying you want a job in construction will not give you the sense of direction you need to achieve. Think carefully about what sort of positon would suit you, and then find out how to get to where you want to go.
- Be hands-on – Some construction and property skills can be self-taught. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, and grow your expertise through your own projects. Sometimes the best way to learn is to just get stuck in, and learn by doing.
- Be open to opportunities – If the area you want to work in can’t be self-taught, there will almost always be a course to help get you started. So whether it’s a PRINCE2® qualification for project management, or you’re thinking about taking a degree, don’t overlook an opportunity simply down to your lack of current credentials.
- Be resilient – The construction & property industry can be competitive, but don’t be disheartened. One of the most important things to remember is to remain resilient, and keep trying. With the right attitude and a willingness to learn, doors will soon start opening for you (N.B. please insert own joke about carpentry here).
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