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Construction and the Built Environment

Ways in

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General Construction

  • Entry is possible at all levels. Some vacancies, such as Apprenticeships, might be open to people who have few formal qualifications, but who can demonstrate a keenness to learn and a reasonable level of literacy and numeracy, Other roles, especially those as technician level, may require level 3 qualifications (such as A levels). Some management level jobs may require a degree or equivalent qualification.
  • Team working, practical and problem-solving skills are vital. It is also important to like working outdoors in all weathers, be physically fit and be comfortable working at heights when needed.
  • Apprenticeships are a common route into the construction industry - particularly for skilled based jobs at craft and technician level but they are becoming increasingly competitive: relevant work experience and any contacts you have in the industry will be very helpful.
  • Training at operative level is usually on the job, working with more experienced operatives, but new entrants also receive more formal training in health and safety. Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards are used in the construction industry to demonstrate that the card holder has been trained in health and safety and is competent in a particular occupation, or is working towards becoming competent.

Architecture, Surveying and Planning

  • For jobs at technician level, such as architectural technicians and surveying technicians, young people can either start through a technician Apprenticeship, or study for an HNC/HND or a degree before starting work. A range of construction-related subjects may be acceptable, but architectural design, architectural technology, quantity surveying practice, valuation, spatial data management or town planning, as appropriate, are the most relevant.  
  • To become a qualified architect it is necessary to complete a relevant architecture degree followed by experience in an architect's office.
  • Entrants to town planning usually have a degree or postgraduate qualification in planning accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI).

Building Services

  • Entry is usually at technician or degree levels with the exception of cavity wall insulation technician and thermal insulation engineers, which have no set academic entry requirements for training.
  • The usual entry qualification for a building services engineer is an accredited degree in a relevant subject, such as building services engineering or architectural engineering. An alternative route is to train as a building services trainee engineer (sometimes called a technician engineer).
  • For cavity wall insulation technicians there are no set academic qualifications but GCSEs in English and maths could be an advantage as cavity wall insulation technicians need to be able to calculate quantities and keep written records.
  • Heating and ventilation engineers usually train via an Apprenticeship, as do refrigeration engineers. Useful GCSE subjects include maths, physics, English, and design and technology.
  • There are no specific academic requirements needed to become a thermal insulation engineer, though some companies may ask for four GCSEs (A*-C), including maths, English and a science. Apprenticeships are available through the Insulation and Environmental Training Agency (IETA).

Civil and Structural Engineering

  • Accredited degree programmes form the required educational base for becoming a professionally qualified civil or structural engineer. Minimum qualifications are generally two A levels including maths and five subjects at GCSE (A*-C) or equivalent.
  • It may also be possible to start as a trainee technician with four GCSE's (A*-C) via an Apprenticeship scheme. Engineering qualifications not accredited with the ICE can be 'topped up' with further learning.

For courses in higher education, see UCAS

For courses in schools and colleges, see UCAS Progress

For Apprenticeship information, including vacancies, see the National Apprenticeship Service