Careers in Construction

See also: Personal Development

The construction industry conjures up images of dusty building sites, loft conversions and extensions—and, indeed, it has its fair share of sole traders and small jobs. However, the industry as a whole is a multi-million pound sector with global opportunities across a wide range of jobs and careers. Construction sites range from single houses right through to massive developments.

There are jobs for graduates from architects through to engineers and surveyors. The sector also includes so-called ‘trade’ jobs such as plumbing, carpentry, joinery and building, all of which need training and often certification. This page explains the jobs and careers that are available, and the types of skills needed in this sector.

The Construction Sector

What do we mean by the construction sector?

The construction market is often divided into five main parts: residential construction, energy and utilities construction, commercial construction, industrial construction and other. Construction workers and companies often specialise in one particular part, or even in particular types of jobs in one part.

The construction sector in numbers

The construction sector overall in the UK is worth some £350 billion per year, and is currently growing. The UK Office for National Statistics reported that the value of new work rose by £15,380 million between 2021 and 2022, to a total of £115, 579 million.

In the US, the construction sector had a market value of an eye-watering $1.6 trillion in 2021, and it is also growing.

Companies in the construction sector in the UK employ around 1.4 million people, and there are also around 700,000 self-employed people working in the construction industry. Around a third of those working in the sector are therefore self-employed.

In the US, the sector currently employs over 9 million people, with each business employing an average of 2.6 people.

This suggests that the construction sector on both sides of the Atlantic contains both small and large firms, with many more small firms. There are a few very large contractors, including companies like Balfour Beatty and Vinci. Interestingly, the five largest building contractors in the world are all from China.

The sector also contains consulting firms, such as Arup Group and Mott MacDonald. These companies provide engineering and construction consultancy services to building firms and others.

Jobs in the Construction Sector

There is a wide range of jobs in the construction sector, far beyond the ‘builders, plumbers and carpenters’ that are most people’s impression. There are jobs for graduates, and also for school leavers. The main qualification in the sector is a practical approach to building, and a willingness to get hands-on, often in the field.

The careers and jobs in the sector include:

Administrators and Managers are Also Needed in Construction!

Like most other industries, the construction sector also employs administrators and managers. If your skills lie in organisation rather than practical matters, but you understand and are interested in the building sector, this might be a good route for you.

You can find out more about these careers in our page on Careers in Administration and Management.

Similarly, many of the roles that are standard in ‘business’ are required in construction, including marketing, human resources and sales.

You can find out more about these careers in our page on Careers in Business.

A Field for Practical People

Like engineering, the construction industry is a field for practical people.

If you are interested in getting your hands dirty, and seeing an obvious outcome from your work, then it could be the right place for you. The range of careers means that you will almost certainly be able to find something that suits both your desired level of education and your interests.