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How to Develop Your Career in the Construction Industry

A look at the different options which are available to help you to both start and progress your career in the construction industry
Written on 6/27/13

How to develop your career in the construction industry

Given the diversity of the construction industry, choosing a career path which best utilizes your skills and satisfies your ambitions can be overwhelming. Since it's unlikely you'll land that dream job in your first years in the industry, taking the time to think about how you'll develop your career is a smart move.

Practical development

Construction is one of those careers which rewards the effort you put in. If you're reliable, dependable and willing to take on physical work, labourer positions, including bricklaying and scaffolding, will be available to you without extensive training requirements. The potential to advance these jobs into careers may be limited, but your commitment could impress employers enough to offer you an apprenticeship in a trade, such as carpentry or plumbing.

Academic development

Like any career, your progress from an entry level job will depend on your ability to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you. Lots of positions within the construction industry stipulate either vocational or academic training - you should consider which course of study will be most appropriate to the demands of your intended career:

Apprenticeships: vocational apprenticeships are available to anyone aged 16 or over, not in full-time education. In courses lasting from 1 to 4 years, apprentices work alongside experienced professionals and earn money as they train. The apprenticeship is a structured programme, designed to deliver specific training and hands-on experience.

HNDs and Foundation Degrees: for management or more specialised jobs, a more comprehensive level of study may be required. Higher National Diplomas are for students who are seeking that training - but still want a vocational route into the industry. Similarly, foundation degrees are designed by companies and educational institutions working in partnership, to provide vocational training. As an alternative to more classroom based university degrees, HNDs let students put their training to immediate use and may even be converted to degrees with a 1-2 year 'top up' course.

Undergraduate Degree: usually taking around 3-4 years, degrees represent a significant commitment. A degree may not be necessary for certain vocations but, beyond equipping students with the knowledge and skill to advance in their chosen career, the course of study demonstrates dedication to take on and successfully complete a project. Graduate vacancies are competitive but for fields such as architecture, surveying or structural engineering, university degrees are a necessity.

Professional Qualifications: when you become a professional in the construction industry, your career's development may rely on achieving institutional accreditation. Depending on your area of expertise or specialisation, you'll need to consider which qualifications you need to go for - many managerial positions, for example, may require certification from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

The path to success...

Employees in the construction industry don't ever really stop learning. As new equipment and materials are introduced, new accreditations and skills must also develop. Being aware of these developments and understanding the trends of your chosen field are essential skills - keep yourself appraised of industry news so that, when the opportunity comes, you'll be ready to drive your career in the right direction.

What steps did you take to get in to the construction industry?

Or, if you are thinking about embarking on a career in the construction industry, which route are you planning to take?

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