If you don’t have a degree, don’t worry, you don’t have to have gone to university to work in the construction industry; there are still many routes open to you as long as you have the passion and enthusiasm for construction jobs.
No degree? No problem.
With the help of excellent training and your commitment, there is no limit to the heights you can take your career. Whatever you leave school or college with, whether it’s GCSEs, a certificate, diploma, vocational qualification, A or AS Levels or none of the above, there is a wealth of training and further education options available to you.
Many companies also offer work experience and scholarship opportunities for both students and graduates so the construction industry will welcome you, whatever your educational background.
- Depending on your skills and aptitude you might like to start work but still attend a part-time course in college to gain a qualification such as an HNC, HND or a degree in a construction related subject. You will also benefit from practical work experience whilst attending a programme one day per week.
- Apply to be an apprentice for a skilled trade.
- You could begin your career by gaining all round site experience that will count towards a level two national vocational qualification (NVQ) in general construction operations.
With such a huge variety of training programmes available in the construction industry, whatever you choose to do first is not necessarily what you'll do for the rest of your life.
If you want to train as an architect, you’ll need a degree in architecture from one of the 36 nation-wide Architecture Schools, recognised by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
To get onto these courses, you need to have passed two A Levels / three H grades and hold GCSE grades A to C / Standard Grades 1 to 3 in maths, english and science. However all universities and courses are different so check them out first.
There is a minimum of seven years training in architecture:-
- Three year degree
- One year in an architectural office
- Two year diploma
- One year's work experience
There are no specific requirements to begin training as a building surveyor, although most entrants do have A Levels or higher. To become a qualified building surveyor, you will need to hold a BTEC or HND/HNC, and to achieve this you will need 4 GCSE passes A to C / Standard Grades 1 to 3.
There are two main ways to train as a building surveyor. One is through joining the Chartered Institute of Buildings (CIOB), which to get you will need an honours degree and two years’ experience in a building related field or pass the CIOB examination.
The second is through the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS ), and involves studying for a qualification accredited by RICS, followed by completion of their Assessment of Professional Competence.
In both cases, you will be working towards NVQ/SVQ Level 4.
There are no specific requirements to begin training as a buyer, but ideal candidates need to be motivated, organised and highly efficient.
Some construction experience is really essential, it shows you understand the processes involved in any major new build or refurbishment projects. But this could be achieved through work experience, or even a summer job.
Degrees aren’t essential for this job either. Apprenticeships alone offer a fantastic in-road to learning on the job as a buyer.
Training on a relevant industry course - such as a National Certificate or Higher National Certificate - is also a great way to explore the role in more detail if you’re serious about it.
To become a CAD technician, you will typically need GCSE passes (A to C) / Standard Grades (1 to 3) in maths, science and technology.
Alternatively, by achieving a BTEC, NC, HND or HNC in engineering surveying, you can be employed in a trainee technician post. Once you're trained in routine aspects of technical drawing, you can become an engineering technician and work towards NVQ/SVQ Level 3 of CAD Operation or the City & Guilds Certificate.
Training is done on-the-job, with theory work being done by college and workplace assessments for one day a week.
To start a career as a civil engineer, a degree, BTEC or HND in civil engineering is necessary; however requirements vary between universities so it is essential to check them out beforehand. The minimum age to register as a qualified civil engineer is currently 25.
There are several stages of training, firstly completing a period of initial professional development. You must then pass a professional review, and finally gain membership into the Institution of Incorporated Engineers. An apprenticeship for this job is available at the National Construction College.
As a commercial manager job focuses on the legal and financial aspects of construction, you will need the quantity surveying knowledge and skills to manage these aspects of a building, covering the design, construction and post construction phases.
A degree is the most common and expected entry route, although it is possible to study part-time and combine your learning with a junior entry level post to gain on-the-job work experience.
As contracts manager, you will have overall control of a number of projects, co-ordinating the work of sub and main contractors and monitoring contract progress. School leavers can complete NVQ and equivalent qualifications through training schemes or modern apprenticeships - however most companies will expect you to have an HNC, HND or degree on entry.
There is no single way to qualify as an engineer but all routes into the profession involve a mixture of study, on-the-job training and experience.
Apprenticeships are the main entry route for school and college leavers ages 16 and 17. These are available at two levels: apprenticeship for apprentices and advanced apprenticeships.
The training leads to work-based nationally recognised qualifications at National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 2 or 3, and trainees also get a wide range of broader work skills.
No specific entry requirements are needed to train as an estimator, although GCSE’S in science, technology, and particularly maths will be helpful for measurements and estimations.
You will be trained on-site and issued day release to college to complete theory training. There are apprenticeship schemes available, and employers are happy to offer work experience to people hoping to get into the trade.
You will need to complete an HND/HNC in order to become a facilities manager, although opportunities to progress through a company from a trainee up to the post of facilities manager are available.
Training is done on the job and includes things such as building inspection, quantitative building studies and construction law. You may also attend day or block release at college to complete the theoretical side of your training.
Health and safety
Most new entrants to this role have a BTEC higher national certificate, diploma (HNC/HND) or a degree. However, it is possible to start in a junior health and safety job and work your way up to supervisory and management positions with training and experience.
The usual route into a mechanical engineering position is as a graduate. However, you may be able to apply for an apprentice technician position with a company if you're under 24. You will need four or five GCSEs (A to C grades in subjects such as maths, science, english, and design and technology.) Some employers may also require one or two A Levels in maths and science or equivalent qualifications.
No specific academic entry requirements are needed to train as a planner. You will be trained on-site and issued day release to college to complete theory training.
There are apprenticeship schemes available, and employers are happy to offer work experience to those hoping to get into the trade.
It is possible to become a project manager by taking a job in a firm as a trainee technician and then, after some training, go on to do a degree course. To gain a technician's place, you may need the appropriate BTEC or NVQ/SVQ qualification.
Employers have their own training programmes, which sometimes combine their assessments with those of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB). This helps students work towards NVQ/SVQ Levels 3 and 4 in site and project management.
There are no specific requirements to begin training as quantity surveyor, although most entrants have A Level or higher.
To become a qualified quantity surveyor, you will need to get a BTEC or HND/HNC, and to achieve this you will need four GCSE passes (A to C) / standard grades (1 to 3).
Qualifications can be achieved via the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or the RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors). To join the CIOB you will need to hold an honours degree plus have 2 years relevant experience, or pass the CIOB examination.
There are several ways to qualify as a surveyor and achieve chartered status with RICS. You can study full time to achieve a degree or post-graduate award, or study part time whilst in relevant work.
You will need to have a degree, diploma or HND/HNC to train as a site engineer, particularly in building and construction, or civil/structural engineering.
Employers will be happy to offer people hoping to enter the industry on-site experience, and there are apprenticeships available. Entering the industry as a trainee technician is a good place to start - you can then progress on to more supervisory roles with experience.
Training will be given on-site, and sometimes employers will issue day release to college for theoretical training.
To train as a site manager, you will usually need a degree in one of the following; building, building studies, construction engineering management, building technology or building management.
It is possible to begin in the trade as a basic technician or craftsperson, and do a degree part-time whilst working. To become a technician, you will need a BTEC/SQA.
There are no set entry requirements to train as a skilled tradesperson, although GCSEs/standard grades in maths, english and technology may be helpful for the calculations, measurements and theory. Apprenticeships are the usual route in and enable you to earn while you learn.
A degree, BTEC or HND in structural engineering is required for you to train as a structural engineer. There are several stages of training, which begins by completing a period of initial professional development. You must then pass a professional review, and then finally gain membership into the Institution of Incorporated Engineers.
- Further Education colleges across the UK offer an opportunity to gain NVQs, GNVQs, BTECs or HNDs in a wide range of construction-related courses.
Training for Success is a scheme for young people aged 16 - 24. It offers training opportunities through job-ready and apprenticeships. A list of approved training organisations is available from The Department for Employment and Learning.
Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) provides information, assistance and training throughout the UK. CITB has five campuses around the country, where four year apprenticeships are available to young people aged 16 and over.
Construction Youth Trust is a UK-wide charitable trust which aims to support young people under the age of 30 to acquire the skills they need to enter the construction industry.
The Learning and Skills Council offers five apprenticeship schemes in construction, as well as engineering disciplines and property services.
- The Learning and Skills Council also runs a National Skills Academy for Construction. Mobile training centres are going to be established on-site at major construction projects throughout the UK.
- Major contractors across the UK also operate training programmes for school leavers.
Have any burning questions? Check out the frequently asked questions here.
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