A guide to graduate careers in construction

Careers Advice
16 May 2019 | Careers Advice | thomas thomas

For graduates, construction is an industry that offers a broad range of opportunities and career paths including architect, surveying, electrician and more. We spoke to Andy Mason, academy director of the work-based training academy COSAC, to learn more about what’s on offer in the industry.


As a building surveyor, you will be the go-to person for professional advice on construction and property queries. From undertaking surveys and identifying any faults, your main duties will be ensuring buildings are up to scratch and advising on how to fix those that aren’t.

There are many degrees that can help you get into surveying, including economics, geography, mathematics as well as urban and land studies. Alongside a degree, a surveyor will need to be a keen problem solver and have a practical mindset.


If you have a technical and creative mind and an eye for detail, then architecture could be the path for you. Architects work at the foundation of the construction industry, drawing up plans for housing developments and offices and restoring historic buildings.

A successful architect will need to have both the creativity to develop innovative design concepts and the technical skills to create accurate drawings. An architecture degree usually takes around three or four years and involves a mix of theoretical and practical study. You then undertake professional experience Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, which normally takes four years to complete.

Project management

Project managers oversee the entire construction of the site, ensuring all work is completed on time and to the client’s specification. Day-to-day, you will be in charge of outlining the goals and objectives, working out deadlines for each job, and monitoring the progress of the teams.

For this role, a graduate can have a degree in any subject, but construction related subjects such as geography or architecture is usually preferred. If you want a head start in the role, you can take a postgraduate course in project management. While it is uncommon for graduates to enter the project management role straight away, graduate schemes usually help you get there quickly, as an assistant project manager.

Civil and structural engineering

Whether it's covering the entire process as a civil engineer, or focusing on the design and materials used as a structural engineer, these roles play a crucial part in any construction project. Working both in the office and on-site, engineers are responsible for meeting building regulations and ensuring safety.

While engineering degrees offer a strong foundation for this career, any science-based course can also provide a foundation of knowledge and skills that are needed for the job.

Working in a trade

Tradespeople are the face of the construction industry, taking on specific jobs like electrician, joiners, bricklayers, demolition and more. A degree isn’t normally necessary depending on what trade you are thinking of going in to. A common route is through an apprenticeship scheme, which mixes both practical work and theory. Technical trades, such as electrical engineers however can require a degree because they involve intricate knowledge of complex equipment and how to handle them safely.

The qualifications for construction

Since construction covers such a broad range of roles, each position calls for different skills and knowledge, however there are some general requirements.

Anyone that works on site will need to acquire the appropriate CSCS card – this shows your employer that you have the correct training and knowledge needed to carry out your job safely. For those working with heavy machinery, a CPCS card is needed as well.

Project managers on the other hand require SMSTS to show that they understand general on-site safety, as well as first aid training, while electricians will need to obtain an ECS card.

For information on COSAC and the training courses available, visit: .cosac.co.uk/

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