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The UK has an established world-class reputation in construction and design, particularly in the case of land mark developments. The construction industry remains one of the UK's biggest exports, generating revenues of over £120 billion a year and employing 2.8 million people. Also, many of the big construction recruiters are greatly increasing the number of graduates they now take on. The sector embraces civil and structural engineering, construction, building services and surveying, and blurring into engineering construction, where scientific, mechanical engineering and construction disciplines all meet. A construction graduate career incorporates everything from house building to constructing dams and bridges; to road, rail and air transport infrastructures; and industrial plant, power stations and gas platforms.

The construction sector includes all graduate-level construction disciplines such as quantity surveying, construction management, civil and structural engineering, architecture etc. It includes all aspects of property development, management and investment, and it covers areas such as housing and town planning. In other words, this sector covers the entire property and construction project life cycle - through designing projects and building them to selling them, investing in them and managing them afterwards.

Particularly with the bigger companies in the sector, the work can involve spending long periods overseas, in working environments as diverse as deserts and oil platforms, and moving from project to project anywhere within the UK or world-wide. This will either be a major attraction or major turn off for most graduates considering a career in the sector. The obvious exception to this would be working for a local authority employer.

The sector’s historical reputation for adversarial relationships between contractors and consultants is changing rapidly with the introduction of partnering, design and build and Public Private Finance projects.

Average Construction Graduate Salary

Construction Graduate Career Path

Managing a construction project involves a variety of people in different roles. Before construction firms are involved in a project, architects provide the initial plans. They can also co-ordinate building designs as changes manifest themselves throughout a job's duration. Architects consult with owners, planning departments and a number of other interested parties in proposing designs. Architectural practices are no different from firms in any other sector, they can be small, medium or large, though some of the largest employers such as the government, commercial organisations, banks and retail firms now contract work out. Architects, like most professionals in the property arena, can often work unsociable hours, but there is always the possibility of travel and eventually setting up on your own.

Structural Engineers oversee the design, safety, efficiency and elegance of buildings, bridges and other engineering structures. Much of their work involves analysing stresses and weaknesses in existing or proposed structures and finding remedies for them. They also advise on appropriate materials and oversee construction and repair. Civil engineers are concerned with transport systems, industrial production, municipal services and environmental improvement projects. They are involved at all stages of major building projects, from planning to completion. Specialist areas include engineering in these areas: Transportation, Municipal, Geotechnics and Highways.

One of the great things about construction is its flexibility as you are always going to be gaining valuable experience and therefore do not necessarily have to follow a set career path. Once you've started training in construction you can progress and divert your career by gaining further qualifications and experience into roles in engineering, finance or consultancy because all require numeracy and project management skills.

Qualifications and Skills Needed

What proportion of candidates as a percent we place into Construction graduate careers and the typical qualities graduate employers look for.

GRB Placements for Construction by Degree

Typical Candidate Attributes

If you are an undergraduate on a construction-related course, chances are you want to find out as much as possible about all the exciting and varied opportunities that construction companies have to offer you including:

  • Sandwich year/industrial placement
  • Work experience opportunities during or after graduation 
  • Sponsorship opportunities
  • Mentoring
  • Events and corporate days to gain employment opportunities
  • Graduate profiles
  • Company project information
  • Information for projects and dissertation

These main routes into the industry provide just the right amount of training for you. However, one of the great things about construction is its flexibility as you are always going to be gaining valuable experience and therefore do not necessarily have to follow a set career path. Once you've started training in construction you can progress and divert your construction graduate career by gaining further qualifications and experience. The possibilities therefore are endless.

A relevant degree (like architecture, civil engineering, landscape surveying, construction and building studies) is advisable. The skills required do vary according to the area of work, but communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team are important. Strong academic knowledge and experience is necessary for architects, engineers and surveyors, who must all undertake accredited degrees and training courses. Employers will be looking for your problem solving, project planning and relevant experience you may have gained during your degree (some companies sponsor undergraduates through university and some course are able to offer industrial placements). Construction can be creative, but you need to be practical, financially astute and aware of the bottom line. Good IT skills are important, particularly for design roles.

Sources for Further Information

Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Structural Engineers
Chartered Institute of Building
Institute of Maintenance and Building Management
The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors