It doesn’t get promoted the way other careers do because most of the time you won’t be sitting at a desk or wearing a suit, but if you’d like to work in an industry with great employment prospects and the potential to pay very well indeed, you should think seriously about construction. You will need to train and develop a good understanding of what you’re doing, because safety is extremely important – yours and that of the people who go on to use what you’ve built – but the rewards make it well worthwhile.
In the past, the construction industry was known as a place where unskilled people could get work as day labourers. Today, that is very rarely the case. Construction is a skilled profession, and you will need to train in order to get decent jobs. Most vocational colleges offer low cost starter courses. You may be able to get a grant to help you with this, especially if you have been unemployed for 6 months or more.
Although your employer may be legally liable if you are injured or become ill as a result of work on a site, this applies only if they are negligent, and not all employers are insured. For this reason, you should really have insurance of your own. The right policy can also provide you with cover in the event that you accidentally injure someone else in the course of your work.
In order to do manual or supervisory work on a construction site in the UK, you will need a card coloured according to your skill type and level. The Construction Skills Certification Scheme awards these cards to people who pass its tests – you can either take a course in order to pass the test or you can learn by observation in an apprenticeship type scheme.
There are many different roles in the construction industry. These are some of the most popular:
- Builder – hands-on work with many different specialisms, turning paper projects into reality.
- Plumber – fitting the piping within new and restored buildings to make them liveable.
- Electrician – ensuring all the wiring is safely in place or overseeing site electrics.
- Engineer – solving problems that complicate the development of a new structure.
- Architect – designing structures and helping builders understand the plans.
- Manager – supervising sites or whole projects.
The experience offered by different construction sector employers can be very different, so it’s good
to work out early on if you want to work for a big company or a small one and what sector you’re most
interested in. Hamilton King's blog
provides a good overview of what it’s like to work in residential
property maintenance, for instance, and you can find other blogs written by construction workers
themselves that will help you decide who to approach about possible jobs.
With lots of opportunity for sideways movement within preferred roles and opportunities to progress
within large companies, construction is a field in which you can have a lot of control over your own
destiny. It’s a vibrant, exciting sector in which to work, so don’t miss out.