Whether you’re a graduate looking for your first job or an experienced professional looking to change careers, the construction industry has a range of job opportunities for all skill levels. But how do you get into the industry? First, you need to find out what type of job you’re interested in.
Types of construction jobs
Construction jobs can be divided into two broad categories: technical and practical. Technical jobs require skills in design, surveying, administration, or management, amongst others. In contrast, practical jobs require you to get your hands dirty. This includes construction work, installing essential services, landscaping, painting, and decorating.
Some jobs require specific skills and qualifications, while others offer on-the-job training. It’s a good idea to do some research on the job you’re interested in. The bigger the demand, the greater the chances that you’ll get a job. Chat with professionals in that field to find out about their experiences or do some job shadowing. An internship can also lead to great opportunities. Research and temp opportunities will help you get an idea of whether it would be a good fit for you.
If you show great potential, some companies may even be willing to give you on-the-job training while you complete the required courses or qualifications after-hours.
A few of the main roles in the construction industry are:
- Architects and architectural technologists design structures and look at the technical aspects of the designs.
- Mechanical and electrical engineers design and implement all the essential services like power, water, lights and ventilation systems in a building.
- Civil, structural and geotechnical engineers ensure that designs become reality. Their responsibility is to work on the technical aspects of the design and to be on-site to ensure the designs are properly implemented. Structural engineers ensure that structures are sturdy and safe to use, while geotechnical engineers focus on the foundations of structures.
- Building surveyors give technical advice on a property and structure’s condition. They can check if a property is suitable for a certain type of construction or inspect a building to check for defects and estimate repair costs.
- Landscape architects design and create open spaces like parks, public areas and gardens.
- Site managers organise and run construction sites. They ensure that the project is done properly and professionally, within budget and deadline. They also have to have great people skills since they manage teams of workers.
- Practical and specialist work include bricklaying, stonemasonry, carpentry, joinery, scaffolding and painting.
- Demolition work includes jobs where structures need to be broken down. Either to be completely removed or for sections to be rebuilt.
- Plumbing and electrical work are always in demand. Plumbers look at a structure’s pipes, while electricians focus on the wiring.
- Interior design and decorating require a creative touch. Interior designers and decorators need to take the client’s tastes and needs, space and available decor into consideration.
So, now that you’ve got a specific job role in mind, how do you go about getting that job? Well, it will depend on your skill level and qualifications.
If you have no experience, you can scour the job boards for entry-level positions or approach agencies for advice and possible opportunities. Entry-level positions will usually be low-level jobs comprising of hard labour, but you’ll get experience and on-the-job training. Carefully look at job postings, as some entry-level jobs will require some training or specialist skills. Some companies may label jobs with little or no experience needed as “general labour”.
Graduates or people with some experience that will come in handy in the construction field should consider internships and other entry-level jobs, such as administration, may be your ticket. Both these opportunities will give you a foot in the door. Internships will give you the opportunity to gain new skills and possibly earn permanent employment, while entry-level positions allow you room for promotion. If you work hard and the company sees potential in you, you may even get the opportunity to gain new skills and qualifications.
Professionals that want to change careers should look at the skills they have and how they can be applied to the construction industry. For example, communications skills can come in handy in administrative or organisational roles, while management skills can land you a management role. Agencies like Simpson Dean can provide you with advice on which of your skills are transferable and which roles would suit you best.
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