Your Ultimate Guide to a career in Construction

Watch as the things you construct come to life all around you.

It has never been a more exciting time to work in construction. New digital technologies have made careers in construction accessible, requiring new skills and young minds to help forge the future.

From project management to highly-skilled on-site work, construction apprenticeships offer a satisfying career, directly impacting the places we live, work and play.

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The basics.

Construction projects are everywhere in the UK – have you noticed new houses, train lines and schools being built in your local area? Construction is a multi-billion pound industry and behind every project are hundreds of construction workers – and apprentices!

As one of the leading industries for employing apprentices, what kind of opportunities does the construction industry have to offer?

Types of apprenticeships in construction

Bricklaying apprenticeships

When you hear the word ‘construction’, bricklaying likely comes to mind. As you may know, bricklayers construct buildings and other structures using bricks and mortar. It’s a popular occupation and it comes with a great sense of achievement – imagine looking at your completed wall and thinking ‘I built that’. Similar labour-intensive jobs include roofing, plastering and plumbing.

Quantity surveyor apprenticeships

Quantity surveyors act like project managers for construction projects. They manage the budget, contractual agreements, bills and other documents to ensure that the project is completed within the agreed budget. Working across industrial, commercial or residential constructions, quantity surveyors analyse and predict the costs for a project, including materials, labour and time. It can be a very well-paid occupation and you could work on a variety of projects.

Architectural apprenticeships

Construction projects can’t be completed – or even started – without an architect. They plan and design buildings and other structures, and they’re responsible for the safety and overall look of a building, ensuring that it meets all necessary regulations. There are many different types of architects: a design architect is responsible for the overall design of a project; a technical architect ensures that the building will function correctly; a landscape architect designs outdoor spaces such as parks.

Welding apprenticeships

Welders use specialist machinery, tools and intense heat to mould metal parts together; their role is vital for construction projects on bridges, power plants, buildings, cars, assembly lines, ships and pipelines, among other structures. Because of the universal need for their skills, welders are in high demand worldwide. Jobs within welding include inspectors, supervisors, teachers, engineers and fabricators.

Lifting technician apprenticeships

Lifting technicians set up and operate cranes for lifting heavy objects on construction sites. To be qualified for this role, you’ll need to learn how to operate a range of different cranes (yes, there’s more than one type of crane!) including a tower crane, a crawler crane and mobile cranes. In the future, you could even become a lifting equipment inspector and ensure the safety of the lifting equipment on-site.

Plumbing Apprenticeships

Are you a hands-on learner who is at their best when getting stuck into practical work? If so, a plumbing apprenticeship could be just for you.

Plumbing apprenticeships offer you the opportunity to earn a wage (up to £250 a week) while gaining important skills, knowledge, and experience to become a qualified plumber.

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Electrical apprenticeships

It goes without saying that electricians play a vital role in society. They provide buildings with electricity; install, inspect and test electrical equipment; lay cables to connect equipment; and adhere to safety regulations. It’s one of the highest-paid jobs in the trade and construction industry, and you’ll have the opportunity to work on the projects that best suit you, such as domestic, commercial or industrial.

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Entry requirements?

Although apprenticeships in the construction industry will have different entry requirements (defined by your employer), employers generally expect candidates to have two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 – including passes in English and Maths. Many construction apprenticeships accept apprentices who are aged 16+, so you could jump straight into an apprenticeship after high school.

Aside from academic requirements, the construction industry favours candidates who have a good eye for detail and pay attention to instructions – after all, construction can be a dangerous industry to work in if anything goes wrong.

Apprentice Levels

Apprenticeships are split into levels depending on the length and the qualification that you receive at the end. Possible qualifications that you’ll get could be:

Level 2 (intermediate) – equivalent to 5 GCSEs (at grades 9 to 4)

Level 2 apprenticeships are the most popular option in the construction industry, and they take 12 to 18 months. You can find them at Morgan Sindall Construction, Lendlease UK, The Berkeley Group, Wates Group, Willmott Dixon and many local businesses in the construction industry – so you can also ask around and keep an eye out in your local paper.

Level 3 (advanced) – equivalent to 2 A-levels

Skanska (one of the UK’s leading building contractors) runs apprenticeships in welding, plumbing, electrics and engineering at Levels 2-3. Their apprenticeships are popular because you’ll spend 80% of your time working and only 20% in education – a great option if you like to be hands-on.

Levels 4 and 5 (higher) – equivalent to a foundation degree

Apprenticeships at Levels 4 and 5 are harder to come by in the construction industry, but you can find Level 4 Quantity Surveyor, Building Services Engineering and Construction Apprenticeships at BAM Nuttal (a construction and civil engineering company).

Levels 6 and 7 (degree) – you’ll get a full bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. Yep, that’s right: with some high-level apprenticeships, you can achieve a full degree at the end, without going to university.

Level 6 Quantity Surveyor Apprenticeships last for 3 years and can be found at Costain (a large construction engineering business), Severn Trent (a water services company) and Balfour Beatty (a construction and infrastructure investments company). You’ll gain the equivalent of a full bachelor’s degree in Quantity Surveying.

The UK government runs a 4-year Level 7 Architect Apprenticeship – in the end, you’ll have the equivalent of a master’s degree in architecture. Pretty amazing, right?

Keep in mind that many Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships only accept candidates with 5 GCSEs (9 to 4).

Sector spotlight

With a construction apprenticeship, you’ll put yourself in an excellent position to secure a job in the construction industry – of course! Besides this, you could also work in the public sector and in industries such as transport and water. It’s worth remembering that construction is everywhere, so your skillset would even equip you to easily work abroad.

There are hundreds of diverse, rewarding construction apprenticeships to choose from. You could be behind a drawing board, developing project management skills, training as a craftsperson and more. With the opportunity to work on domestic, industrial or commercial projects, jobs in construction are never boring.

If you’re ready to jump into this exciting and rewarding industry, an apprenticeship is the best way for you to gain hands-on experience at your chosen craft.