Working in construction with GCSEs (or similar)

Entry level jobs in construction tend to be based on practical skills.

You don’t always need qualifications to work as a labourer or a plasterer, but many people start by taking an apprenticeship or by studying vocational qualifications. For some specialist jobs such as land drilling and piling (the production of deep foundations), you need to be at least 18. Not all construction jobs are physical and out on site. You could also find work in the office of a construction firm or in an estate agency, for example.

Example jobs

Kitchen fitter
Installing kitchens in homes or businesses.

Highways maintenance operative
Building and maintaining pavements, roads and motorways.

Thatcher
Repairing and replacing thatched roofs.

Piling operative
Working in construction on the production of deep foundations for buildings.

Carpenter
Making wooden objects and structures.

Joiner
Constructing the wooden components of a building.

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

You will need experience and qualifications to earn the higher salaries.

Pay levels graph

Typical working conditions

  • For some roles, you could be working outdoors in all weathers. You could be working at heights or in a confined space.
  • You will work around 40 hours per week, normally Monday to Friday. There might be some evening or weekend work.
  • You will need to work closely with a colleague or a team.

Qualifications needed

You will usually need to pass a health and safety test and get a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card before you are allowed on site. When you are choosing your GCSE options, consider taking a vocational qualification such as a diploma or certificate in construction or a GCSE in design and technology. This might help you to decide if you are interested in the industry. If you are hoping to work in an office setting, GCSEs in maths and English will be important.

Career path

An apprenticeship will help you to become skilled in a particular job area such as bench joinery or roofing. The qualifications and experience you gain should open the door to new opportunities as a skilled tradesperson with higher pay. If you prefer to work in an office setting, you might choose an apprenticeship in estate agency or business administration.

Useful links

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Information to help you decide if a job in construction is right for you

The Construction Industry Training Board

Apprenticeships in construction