Achieving a successful career in construction depends upon a good balance between practical experience and qualifications.
There are a variety of ways you can get qualified to work in construction from studying part time whilst you work to attending a full time university course. This article will identify the key types of qualification in construction but remember it is a wide and varied industry with many different career paths and alternative ways to progress.
City and Guild Certificates
The City and Guild certificate training scheme covers many construction careers such as site maintenance and a multitude of construction crafts. The training technique provided by the City and Guild Certificate involves a lot of practical work, which ensures that once you are qualified you will have the skills you need for your chosen occupation. The courses are run at many colleges across the UK and the certificate is also accepted by the CSCS card scheme so when you have qualified you may apply for the Blue or Gold Skilled Worker card depending upon the level you have achieved and your occupation. The City and Guild Certificates are particularly popular with craft occupations as they cover many specialist careers.
A BTEC Level 2 First Certificate and Diploma is a college course which is available across the UK. It is designed for beginners in the industry and is considered a great foundation course for learners wishing to pursue further qualifications such as an NVQ or a full BTEC National qualification. There are also BTEC Higher National Certificate and Diploma courses available at Higher Education Colleges and some universities. However the BTEC is not recognised by the CSCS card scheme if you wish to apply for a CSCS card you may need to go down a profiled route or take the required NVQ qualification.
The Construction National Vocational Qualification, or the Construction NVQ, is considered the industry standard qualification in construction. It is a popular scheme as its flexibility allows learners to work and get qualified at the same time.
The majority of UK apprenticeships schemes are also involve the achievement of an NVQ. The NVQ apprenticeship route is available for a wide variety of trades including; carpentry, plastering, scaffolding, stone masonry, bricklaying, and many more.
By achieving an NVQ you will be eligible for a CSCS card and the colour and type of card will depend upon your NVQ level and your occupation. For example achieving an NVQ level 3 will enable you to apply for the Gold CSCS card
If you have the time and the money undertaking a university degree is a great way of gaining a construction qualification. A significant number of construction related occupations will require you to have a university degree such as an Architect, Structural Engineer, Civil Engineer, Project Manager or Planner. Entry into the university route normally requires the candidate to hold good GCSE’s and A-Levels in the relevant subjects, including science and mathematics.
As part of your university course you may undertake a sandwich year or industrial placement. This means that after two years of university study you will go and work full time for a year in construction job relevant of your chosen university degree. The sandwich route offers valuable on site experience and it could lead to a job offer upon graduation if you do well.
Alternatively you can do a university degree part time whilst you work. Many large contractors will pay for you to train one day a week. This route takes longer but you have the added bonus of earning money whilst you study and gaining practical experience at work.
One of the added values of attaining a university degree in construction is the opportunity to become a member of one of the Professional Industry Bodies. The main Bodies include:
Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Institute of Structural Engineers (IStructE)
Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE)
Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
Association of Cost Engineers (ACostE)
Institute of Electrical Technicians (IET)
Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT)
Architects Registration Board (ARB)
Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE)
Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS)
Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE)
National House Building Council (NHBC)
Home Builders Federation (HBF)