You want to build a career in construction, but you have no experience – is it possible to get started? The short answer is an emphatic yes, and this article will explore what your options are, the various routes available and what skills you may need. Whether you have industry experience or not, there are various roles and opportunities available within the construction sector.
Desirable skills in construction
Construction jobs come with a wide range of tasks and working conditions, so there are plenty of skills and traits beneficial to workers in the industry. Each profession will have its own skill requirements, but there are certain skills which are desirable across all construction roles.
So, what are the best skills to have to get a job in construction with no experience?
Communication, verbal and written, is one of the most important skills you can have in a construction career. Quick, honest and concise communication is great for building relationships with your team and clients, as well as spotting and solving problems, ensuring projects can be completed on time.
Self-management is being able to manage your own time and how you work, without your manager having to tell you. For example, using your initiative to organise where your tools and equipment are and how they’re handled can really speed up the job you’re working on, and will be greatly appreciated by your manager and colleagues.
No matter your role in construction, whether you’re onsite or in an office, you will likely be working closely with others. Building positive relationships with others is key to success within the industry, as having a good understanding of how your colleagues work will naturally lead to better results. Additionally, companies in a supply chain work closely together, so building relationships with those outside your company is just as important, too.
Willingness to learn
All construction professionals, from those with decades of experience to newbies should have a willingness to learn new things. This is particularly important for entry level jobs though, as the quicker you learn and adapt to new ways of working, skills, technology and techniques, the sooner you can progress through the industry.
Problems are a natural part of working life, they happen – how you respond to and deal with them is the important thing. Identifying a problem early on can save a lot of time and money in the long run, so being able to think on your feet is a valuable asset.
Routes into construction
Before we take a look at some of the best entry level construction jobs, lets explore some of the most common ways to start a construction career. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge into a job, any of these could be ideal for you.
Apply for an apprenticeship
If you have an idea of the area of construction you want to work in, you can apply for a construction apprenticeship. Open to anyone over the age of 16, they are a combination of practical, on the job experience and academic learning. A couple of the benefits (there are many) of starting an apprenticeship is you can earn money while learning and gain hands-on experience. This means there are no student loans to pay off.
When you are ready, we have advice on how to apply for an apprenticeship, as well as available apprenticeships in England, Scotland, and Wales.
Gain work experience in construction
Work experience is free to do and involves shadowing someone in a construction role that interests you to learn more about it first-hand. A great benefit to this is the opportunity to make contacts in the industry, which may help you further down your career path. You’ll also know if the role is right for you because you will see typical days play out. Work experience also gets you skills you can add to your CV. It’s just one of the many options for getting into construction without a degree.
On-the-job training and a part-time college course
College courses are available for construction roles, with varying lengths and types of qualifications available. As well as Study NVQs and City and Guilds you can also obtain BTECs, A Levels or GCSEs depending on the job you are looking for. Some allow you to study from home or online and most courses are free, but you may want to get more hands-on experience.
For that, you can look into on-the-job training, which is exactly as it sounds. You work and earn money while studying for a qualification. This might mean you have to be supervised or get sign off on your work until you are fully qualified, but it does give you real life experience in the role which some people find helps them study.
Entry level construction jobs
These construction jobs allow you to start with no experience at all, and are a great way to get started. You will learn as you go, starting with simple tasks and moving on as you progress. Below are some of the jobs that let you do this.
For many of these roles, work experience on a construction site is the fastest way to start training. Be aware that you may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.
Bricklayers work across many projects, from huge commercial building construction sites to domestic houses and decorative projects. You can start out with no experience as a construction site labourer, then take on training as you go. You can also find an apprenticeship or college course if you prefer. Find out everything from salary expectations to typical hours for a bricklayer here.
Carpet fitters lay carpets and vinyl flooring, measuring up the rooms, estimating the materials needed for the job, installing and securing the carpet. It is a varied role with no formal entry requirements, and can lead to a job in contract management or buying. Good attention to detail and the ability to work well on your own are crucial skills for carpet fitters. Find out more and how to apply here.
This role doesn’t have any formal qualifications, but does involve driving heavy machinery, so some experience as a site labourer would be helpful. You can use work experience too, which could help you pick up other skills that could be handy for a different role if you wanted variation. Some skills you need for an entry-level crane operator role are good spatial awareness and an understanding of how to use and maintain machines and tools. Learn more about becoming a crane operator.
Becoming a demolition operative requires no official qualification, however work experience, previous work on construction sites and any previous experience of public health and safety are all useful. Demolition operatives are responsible for dismantling unsafe or obsolete buildings and structures, so the ability to use your initiative alongside a keen eye for detail is beneficial. Find out more here.
General construction operative
Construction operatives, or labourers, are involved in a lot of different tasks on a construction site, including carrying out manual work whilst a project is in progress. This makes it a great entry-level role as all tasks can be built upon for other roles further down your career path. An employer may offer training in a particular area of construction, too. Find out how to apply for construction operative roles.
Working as a groundworker is a great way into the industry, as there is often no experience or qualifications required to start as a trainee groundworker. Groundworkers are usually the first tradespeople on a construction site, preparing the ground and getting it ready for building to begin. A good level of physical fitness and an eye for problem solving are useful skills for prospective groundworkers. Find out more here.
Maintenance operatives keep construction sites in good working order, carrying out repairs and fitting items like doors or skirting boards. Work experience in DIY is a great way to make contacts and pick up the skills for this role. Find out more about maintenance operative roles.
You’ve likely seen the temporary metal structures surrounding a building under construction – they are what scaffolders construct, allowing construction professionals to work safely at height. There is no set route to become a scaffolder, and it is an excellent entry point into working in construction. If you’re comfortable working at height, have good hand-eye coordination with a decent level of physical fitness, scaffolding could be for you. Find out more about what the role involves here.
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