• Construction building and planning

TSR Wiki > Careers > Career Options > A-Z of Careers > Construction, building and planning

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Other Links
Why not visit the Centre for Education in the Built Environment for information on education opportunities and links to professional bodies.
Or visit the website of the Chartered Institute of Building, the leading professional organisation in its field.
You can also learn how to become an electrician in more depth from this page.


The state of the construction and building services industry is influenced by how well the economy is doing. As much of the labour market work is repair and maintenance, many untrained people take it on themselves when times are hard - especially now that so many do-it-yourself programmes show them how! Much of the industry is also suffering from a skills shortage. At the craft level, for instance, most professional trades are in short supply, especially that of Corgi registered plumbers, NICEIC qualified Electrician's and Carpenters, although certain areas in the country tend to suffer more than others.

In order to cope with increasingly more complex work, more graduates will be required. It is difficult to say whether more graduates will be attracted to this industry but, with higher numbers going to university, it is possible. Already there are stories of graduates abandoning well-paid jobs to begin construction training. The problem of too few companies offering training, however, seems likely to continue. Well-qualified and experienced workers from some of the new European Union countries may fill any vacancies that do exist.

What does the construction, planning and building sector involve?

This sectors covers everything from the conception of a building, monument or attraction, to its eventual completion. Working within this sector are a wide range of skilled professionals, from architects to engineers, and an even larger number of manual labourers who actually put the buildings together. They can work in a range of areas, from those working on public and government projects, to those who are involved in private developments. On top of this, the area also covers a number of maintenance and repair workers who keep what's built in working order!

Why should I apply for a career in construction, building or planning?

This sector therefore, isn't all about the guys on the rooves and in the vans: for while these guys play a massive role in the hard work and the craftsmanship and construction, behind them lie the senior analysts including Surveyors, Architects and other graduate qualifying positions, which reward those who are not practically minded, but wish to be involved with the planning side of the construction industry. This can be an extremely rewarding job, offering both the office job as well as the on-site factor, which gives a perfect balance.

Training and Applicants

Work experience is extremely helpful. It is also a very important way to make useful contacts.

Entry requirements vary depending on the organisation. The most important factor for any company who wish for a tradesman is not the amount of education you have participated in, but the amount of experience you have gathered in the trade itself. If you know Plumbing, you know Plumbing. Maths, English and Science A-levels are really of no benefit, although education normally helps you as a person become more responsible and committed to your job. However, not all school leavers have the benefit of 10 years in the trade, and if a company is willing to take on young individuals, they would primarily look for City & Guild qualifications within a trade, mainly up to level 3. If a young person managed to gain their City & Guilds level 3 and also accomplished their ACOPS or CORGI registration examination, you will find it a lot easier to find work, as it would a NICEIC qualified electrician.

For graduate entry, surveyors would again be the primary job market. Surveyors will normally be expected to deal with landlords, public committees, builders, councils and have skills within customer care. It is really a broad role dealing with the upper class right through to the working class.


If one wishes to gain a qualified trade, some employers will take on an apprentice. I can tell you from experience that such positions are hard to come by, although by no means impossible. The argument for why businesses tend not to employ apprentices are one of the trained employee leaving the company upon qualification. This is a fair assessment, as after all, the company has invested in you for over 3 years and doesn't want to see you leave after that duration of time. Unfortunately, it is an all too familiar site within the building industry, thus the shortfall of apprentice positions.

If you are lucky enough to gain an apprenticeship, you will likely be given a very basic wage of around £50-100 pounds per week, whilst the organisation also pays for your college fees to bring you up to the appropriate level within your studied field. Apprenticeships can be extremely rewarding, as companies will then try and promote you to small works opportunities, getting you involved in small scale building works, working alongside senior tradesman. When confident and happy enough with your progress, the firm could possibly get you a company vehicle and send you to different site addresses to carry out repairs. This brings independence and a greater depth of knowledge.

What opportunities are available within the sector?

Over one million people work in construction but many of them are sole traders or part of very small firms. During my time as a Managing Coordinator of an SME Building firm, opportunities arose all the time for different positions. It is well known that at certain periods within the year, more positions arise, e.g. Summer periods would expect an upsurge of Painting and Decorating vacancies, with the winter months receiving an upsurge in the Roofing category. Plumbers, Carpenters, Electricians are all fields that are permanently sought after.

I can categorically say, if you are well presented, read and write well, have good knowledge in your trade, you are a sought after tradesman. It is to my dismay, that not enough tradesman meet this simple criteria, and when they did, we done everything as a company to keep the individual. Without embarking on too much of a generalisation, the building trade suffers from professionalism (length of education), where commitment and a downfall in communications is notable for suffering, thus the reason for an educated tradesman to succeed.

The practical element of the building industry is just one half, with surveyors and other forms of analysts serving to find the logical reasons as to why certain elements occur. Any qualified surveyor is degree educated (RICS), where further education can earn you a fellowship (FRICS); Fellow, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

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Further Information

You can expect a decent salary and company car when commencing surveying.

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