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Construction Career Options

construction career options

If you want to work in construction, but you are unsure where to start – read on and find out about construction career options.

If you’re good at leading, organising, planning and problem solving, a job in the construction management field could be for you.

Working in construction management

Construction managers oversee and lead the operations on a particular construction project, making sure it is completed by a given deadline, has not exceeded budgets, and is completed safely. You will be responsible for ensuring an entire project is completed, or perhaps a large part of it.

What does a construction manager do?

Typical work activities for a construction manager, also known as a site manager or site agent, include discussing the project plans, creating work schedules, preparing the building site, monitoring all costs and progress, ensuring safety guidelines are adhered to and communicating with a wide range of people. You’ll need excellent communication and management skills to get the job done.

How can I get into construction management?

You’ll usually need a Foundation Degree, an HNC (higher national certificate), an HND (higher national diploma), or a Bachelor’s Degree in a related subject, such as building engineering, civil engineering, construction engineering or construction management. These courses focus on developing your management, IT and accountancy skills.

Higher apprenticeships in construction management

If studying full time for a degree doesn’t sound right for you, don’t worry. Higher apprenticeships, at Levels 4, 5 and 6, are a brilliant option for construction careers at all levels and are available in many related fields, for example: site management, construction operations management, as a civil engineering technician, in commercial management, quantity surveying, and much more.

As jobs in this sector are very hands-on, you’ll usually be required to have a certain amount of practical experience in the field. Training and experience needs to be completed with a certified employer in the field. The more experience you gain, the more you’ll stand out. A reasonable level of physical fitness is also required.

Climbing the construction career ladder

This job is not suitable for those under the age of 18, but is perfect for those who have the required qualifications, or lots of experience, and are looking to climb the construction career ladder.

If you’re a born leader and are passionate about managing construction projects, a job in Construction management may be worth considering.

Working as a construction plant or machine operative

If working with machinery appeals to you, a job in construction plant operation or machinery operation could be your calling.

What does a construction plant operative do?

Construction plant operatives work with machinery which is specifically used on construction sites. You’ll need to be passionate and knowledgeable about vehicles and equipment, be able to follow instructions to a given standard and have excellent communication and teamwork skills.

Construction plant operatives work on building sites, roadworks, demolition sites and railways to name a few. Typical machinery worked with includes bulldozers and dump trucks, many varieties of cranes, compactors, loading shovels and concrete pumps. There’s always loads of variety involved!

You would be required to carry out safety checks on the machinery or equipment every day to ensure the machine is safe and is working at its optimum, and to change attachments on the machinery.

What qualifications do I need to be a construction plant operative?

The good news is that qualifications are not necessarily required to work as a construction plant operator, although GCSEs in relevant subjects such as maths, English and design technology may be asked for by some employers.

Vocational qualifications for construction

One way to prepare for working in plant operations is through a vocational qualification, such as the Diploma in Construction and the Build Environment, an NVQ (see page 13) or an alternative plant-related technical certificate. Often, these cover the full range of equipment needed in the job and many related skills, such as demolition, quarrying and road building.

Working as a construction machine operator

A related job role is that of a machine operator. They run and maintain machinery, but the tasks required are slightly different. You’ll be expected to set up machines, perform detailed testing procedures, maintain and clean machinery, input information into the machinery, calibrate and recalibrate the machinery, troubleshoot any problems that may arise and perform safety tests.

Experience is what will get you noticed in this field. If you can prove you have experience in the machine operator field, you will excel at finding job opportunities. You’ll need a working knowledge of tools and machinery, be able to adhere to health and safety procedures, good reading skills, analytical skills, teamwork skills and physical stamina and strength.

The future of construction

Robotics, 3D printing and BIM (building information modelling) are all important developments in the construction sector. If you’re interested in construction career options, it’s important that you keep up with these trends.

About Lynette Daly

Lynette is the publishing editor of Moving On magazine. Moving On is devoted to helping young people make good choices for their future – education, qualifications and careers. Moving On really wants to motivate you! Our articles cover a range of topics to inspire and give ideas. Our magazines are delivered free to all schools, colleges and sixth forms in England and is also available online.

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