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
- 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 www.ice.org.uk
Institution of Structural Engineers www.istructe.org.uk
Chartered Institute of Building www.ciob.org.uk
Institute of Maintenance and Building Management www.imbm.org.uk
The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers www.cibse.org
Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors www.cices.org
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors www.rics.org
Georgios, Manchester Metropolitan University
"Summer 2008. I was no longer one of the many students of Manchester since the student life had just ended for me. I was eager to begin life on my own responsibility but was also afraid. I had to prepare myself for my first interviews, look smart, enthusiastic and prepared to dazzle people. Right before my interview with an international construction management company, my brother said to me: "Don't look so frightened". And indeed I was. However, the interview and presentation process turned out to be a friendly conversation just between me and an experienced electrical engineer of the company. It makes you wonder how some people have the gift to make you feel relaxed and gain your lost confidence. I could not help from wondering "could all people at this company be like that"? You can imagine my excitement when I was informed about my recruitment at the company.
Summer 2010. Two years after my graduation from the University of Manchester, I work as a graduate at one of the most well-known construction companies of the UK. Doing the same things all day long is not the issue here. During these years, I have worked in two different cities so far (Elstead and Manchester) and was lucky enough to meet many of the 'experts' of the company. I have spent 3 months on a site in Burnley and now we are preparing for a new school in Birmingham. Two years after I have indeed found the answer to my question. Well, yes... all people here are like that!
It's said that gratitude is one of the greatest secrets to happiness. I am grateful to all the people who helped me on my first graduate job!"