(Careers in construction, part 3)

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been sharing what we know about some of the careers people can choose in construction. So far, we’ve looked at what it means to take up physical, on-site jobs like bricklaying and roofing but, while these are common and important roles, the sector offers a much broader range of possibilities than this.

In fact, construction is one of the biggest industries in the world and so there are literally hundreds of career pathways to choose from. For instance, there are Architects, CAD technicians, Quantity Surveyors, Site Engineers, Contracts Managers, Estimators, Construction Managers, BIM Coordinators, Commercial Managers, Health and Safety professionals, Environmental Consultants and a whole host of other back-office roles like accountancy, office management and digital marketing.

In this third and final part of our Careers in Construction series, we’re going to give a brief overview of five of these roles.

1. Architect

Architects play a vital role in construction, providing the sector with services around the planning and design of buildings and their surrounding space.

Architects are usually creative people that, in their design role, can turn something that often begins with an idea of what a building might look like into a design concept that can bring that building into construction. As well as needing creative vision, this requires a great deal of technical knowledge and responsibility.

On top of satisfying the client around the visual appeal and functionality of a building, architects have responsibilities around public safety and need to make sure their design and structure complies with building and safety regulations, local planning regulations, and restrictions.

This is a demanding role which requires advanced education (degree and postgraduate degree), the completion of work placements/ internships plus the need to pass professional exams.

2. Quantity Surveyor

Quantity surveying is a hugely varied role that the industry relies on in terms of ensuring that construction projects are viable from the outset and reach an outcome that meets all legal and quality standards as well as offering the best value for money.

Some of the tasks of a Quantity Surveyor include cost planning and management, value engineering, tender analysis, contract administration, procurement, valuations, assessing the costs associated with design variations and the production of company pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) documentation.

Because it involves taking charge of (and maintaining control) of the project budget, this is a career that definitely requires mathematical skills. University level qualifications are normally the first step and other useful personal characteristics include being highly organised, having strong negotiating skills and of course being knowledgeable about building materials and legislation.

3. Contracts Manager

In construction, a Contracts Manager helps to win and manage building contracts. They are usually the main point of contact for clients, site and project managers, helping to negotiate terms and conditions, set project deliverables, keep projects on schedule and control costs.

Working sometimes on-site and at other times in the office, some common duties include developing and presenting project proposals, meeting with clients to find out their requirements, agreeing budgets and timescales with clients, managing schedules, attending site meetings to monitor progress and making sure all agreed technical standards are met.

The role requires people who are good with numbers and IT, can pay close attention to detail and usually who also have prior experience in the construction industry.

4. Health and Safety Professional

Health and Safety Advisors and Officers are responsible for ensuring that companies and their employees are following all the relevant health and safety regulations in their industry. In construction, this is another varied role which involves auditing sites, carrying out risk assessments, offering recommendations for improved practices, updating policies and investigating any injuries, accidents or health problems that arise.

The key attributes required for this job include good communication skills, an eye for detail, problem solving skills and an in-depth knowledge of health and safety legislation.

5. Environmental Consultant

Over recent years, the construction industry has been taking measures to ensure that building projects do everything possible to protect the natural environment during the construction phase and that building structures become more sustainable and eco-friendly.

Meeting environmental obligations in construction is a complicated matter which often requires specialist knowledge. That’s where an Environmental Consultant can step in – offering advice on things like how to minimise water, soil and air pollution, recommending greener construction methods, and helping companies to implement best practice around waste management and the safeguarding of biodiversity.

Because much of what they do supports environmental regulations, Environmental Consultants can also play a key role in helping companies to secure planning permission, assess land for construction viability, and testify on their behalf in the event of any legal challenges.

Involving both field and desk-based research, the role requires people who are methodical, have advanced education in a science/ technical field and can turn complex information into reports that non-scientific/ technical people will be able to understand.

So many more opportunities

Like many other industries, construction requires all kinds of people and different levels of expertise in order to function properly.

Because of high demand, it needs to boost labour supply in traditional roles like bricklaying, roofing, plumbing and carpentry but it also needs people to consider entering careers such as the ones highlighted in this blog.

As the sector is also constantly adapting to new technologies as well as the introduction of new regulations, the possible career paths in construction are widening even further. For instance, there is already a need for more people in the industry to have high tech skills that will enable them to work in fields such as drone pilots, robot engineers or 3D printing. Who knows what else the future will bring!


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