A guide to UK construction jobs
All construction jobs play a part in the creating of infrastructure or buildings. For large scale construction, a range of skills are needed to complete every project. One project can include the need for project managers, construction engineers and architects, as well as builders, electricians and plumbers. The three main sectors in the construction industry are buildings, infrastructure and industrial construction. Building construction involves the creation of buildings for either residential or non-residential purposes. Infrastructure construction is also known as heavy engineering and aims at completing large scale projects such as bridges and motorways. Industrial construction focuses on the creation of buildings for industrial purposes, such as power plants.
The construction sector is experiencing a skills gap, which means that there are many different types of jobs available within these sectors for those with the right skills and experience. This shows in the fact that 20% more skilled workers are needed to meet construction demands in the next four years. Almost a third (29%) of employers in construction say they have recruited within the last 12 months.
Types of Construction Jobs
Engineering jobs are available in various branches of engineering, such as civil engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering and structural engineering.
Structural engineers, for example, are an important part of the design and construction team. They help other professionals, such as architects, create buildings and other structures. They can also help with developing existing structures to make sure that they continue to be safe places to live and work in.
Civil engineers design and maintain roads, bridges, dams, and other structures.
Quantity surveyors manage the cost of construction from the design plans through to the project’s completion.
Surveyors make sure that buildings meet legal and quality standards and that they are completed within a set budget. Quantity surveyor jobs can be offered on housing and industrial sites, retail and commercial developments and in public spaces. Surveyors carry out studies to estimate the cost for material and labour. They monitor finances, as well as informing their clients on legal and contractual matters and acting on their behalf in the case of a dispute.
Electricians fit and repair electrical circuits and wiring in homes and businesses. They can also maintain electrical equipment and machinery, such as street lighting.
Bricklayers can lay stones, build walls and repair chimney stacks, among other things. They are also often able to work on decorative stonework and refurbish brickwork and masonry.
Plumbers can fit, service or repair water- and heating systems and are often qualified to work with cookers and gas fires. Different plumbing jobs are available in residential, industrial or commercial settings and plumbers will be expected to be able to deal with a range of tasks, such as servicing boilers, installing washing machines and servicing air-conditioning units.
Scaffolders put up and take down the scaffolding that allows other professionals to work on higher levels. Many scaffolding jobs are offered at specialist scaffolding firms, individual building contractors or oil and power companies.
Welders cut, shape and join sections of metal plate and pipes to create frames and structures, but they also work on repairs of machinery and equipment.
Plasterers often form part of the later stages of a construction project, after most of the main construction is completed and before any of the internal decorating starts. Most plasterers are able to work both inside a building, plastering internal walls and ceiling to prepare them for decorating, and outside, covering exterior walls with render and coatings.
Carpenters can work on fittings, such as window frames, partition walls and roof joists, as well as second fittings such as skirting boards, staircases and cupboards, and furniture, such as built-in wardrobes.
Qualifications Needed for Construction Jobs
To be offered an engineering job, candidates will be expected to have completed a degree or postgraduate master’s degree. Many civil engineers have started their career on a company’s graduate training scheme, training under the supervisions of a mentor and developing great technical knowledge and business skills on the job.
Anybody wanting to work as an electrician will be expected to have completed some industry-recognised training and qualifications. One way of achieving this is through taking part in an apprenticeship programme. Apprenticeships involve both theory-based and practical learning. Many apprentices then continue to finish their formal qualifications while they are working.
Although formal qualifications are not always needed to become a bricklayer, many employers prefer their new employees to have some on-site experience. Often, it is possible to gain some experience by taking an apprenticeship or labourer job with an established bricklayer. Once working, employers may offer further training in bricklaying. The same applies to plasterer jobs. Many employers will look for candidates with on-site experience, which is often gained through working as a labourer for an experienced plasterer or by taking on an apprenticeship with a plastering firm. There are also college courses available that can provide candidates with the necessary skills.
Many scaffolders also started out in their careers as a scaffolding labourer or trainee, or through a longer apprenticeship scheme. They can then continue to gain further qualifications on the job. To work as a qualified plumber, a candidate will need an industry-recognised qualification at level 2 or 3, such as Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating. Many trainee plumbers combine learning on the job in an apprenticeship with studying for a diploma.
Like with many other construction jobs, a common way into a welding career is an apprenticeship, but taking a formal welding qualification is another good option. Relevant courses for the job include a Level 2 Certificate in Welding Skills and a Level 2 Certificate in Engineering (options in welding).
Many carpenters and joiners have specialised in skills such as bench work, site work or timber frame construction, and employers are likely to look for new employees with some qualifications and on-site experience.Candidates might be able to start as a labourer to get experience, but another option would be to take a full-time or part-time college course in carpentry and joinery.
Employers looking for quantity surveyors are looking for candidates who have a degree or professional qualification accredited by the Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS). For a more senior position, candidates will be expected to have worked towards a RICS chartered status, meaning they have at least two years’ work experience and have passed a panel interview.
There are many different types of construction jobs available, which is reflected in the range of possible salaries. A bricklayer can expect to receive a starting salary of around £16,000 a year, similar to that of a joiner or a roofer. An electrician can earn £21,000 in their first year, which is similar to the salary of a tiler. A quantity surveyor is likely to receive a starting salary of £26,000 a year, similar to the salary of a civil engineer, while a structural engineer can earn £28,000. Construction managers and project managers are paid the most, with salaries of over £30,000 in their first year.
Employment in Construction
To give an overview of the construction market and the types of construction jobs that are available, Zoek have created this informative infographic. The infographic covers national average wages across a number of key roles, as well as highlighting factors which have influenced the construction industry.