Construction is the business of building properties and other structures for residential, commercial or public use. This includes:
The construction industry is concerned with getting the materials to create a structure, the building process itself and everything that goes into making the structure usable, such as putting in utilities like water, electricity, gas, a phone line and internet.
If you work in this area, you could focus on building houses, sky-scraping office blocks, hospitals, schools, bridges or roads.
Property is about the buying and selling, leasing or letting of buildings and structures, as well as their maintenance and management.
Construction and property jobs focus on:
Town planners: Shape the way our towns and cities are laid out. They look at the community needs of a place and work out where our homes, shops and public transport should go. They can plan affordable housing and approve new developments as well as develop parks and open spaces.
Architects: Design and restore buildings as well as the space around them. They are there from the start of a project, right through to the end, overseeing construction and making sure things are done on-time and within budget.
Engineers: Help architects decide which materials to use to make the safest and strongest structures. Civil engineers can put together blueprints and budgets, as well as assess the impact of a new building on the environment. Structural engineers work out how to keep something standing against the non-stop forces of gravity and weather. For more on engineering jobs, check out our Engineering Career Zone, or learn more about the different types of engineering jobs.
Surveyors: Use their scientific skills to map out and assess the quality of land or property, to work out what it is worth and how it can be used. Their work is varied, from drawing up plans, models and budgets for new building projects, to checking a house is safe and stable before buyers put their money on the table.
Construction managers: Run the building process, managing tradespeople on site and making sure that everything goes safely and according to plan.
Tradespeople (sometimes referred to as tradesmen or builders): Skilled workers with specialist construction knowledge, who put together our buildings and other structures. Some tradespeople are all-rounders but many choose to focus on a particular skill, from bricklaying to roofing, painting, carpentry, masonry or welding.
Estate agents: Get properties on the market, advertise, show them around and negotiate between buyers and sellers.
A career in construction for property may be for you if you:
There are also eco-friendly construction careers within the renewable energy industry.
To work as an architect, a town planner or an engineer, you will need a professional degree, which you can gain by going to university or completing a degree apprenticeship with an architecture firm.
For each of these careers, you should study physics and/or chemistry at GCSE. It’s useful to choose at least one of these subjects at A-level: maths, physics, chemistry, design technology, graphic design or IT, as you will often be working with computer programmes.
Architects need to study for seven years including two years' professional experience.
Surveyors can become qualified through a degree, a Higher National Diploma, BTEC or an advanced apprenticeship in construction. You will need GCSEs in English, maths, IT and science as well as A-levels with at least one Science subject.
Tradespeople tend to train through intermediate or advanced apprenticeships in construction. You should aim for at least five GCSEs including maths and English.
To work as a construction manager you will usually need a foundation degree or higher national diploma in construction management or something similar. A degree apprenticeship is available in the role construction site manager or you could train to be a construction site supervisor through a higher apprenticeship.
Estate agents can usually train on the job, with an intermediate apprenticeship being a good way to do this. It helps to have some previous work experience in a customer service job though, to show you are a good communicator.
If you want to learn more about apprenticeships in this area, have a look at our article on apprenticeships in construction.
There are lots of qualifications available for different skills including: chartered surveyor, chartered architect or chartered town planner.
Tradespeople and construction managers can study towards NVQs and diplomas as they work and estate agents can also gain industry qualifications through the National Federation of Property Professionals.
Please see the How do I get there? section for qualification routes you'll need for particular jobs.
It took 11,000 glass panels to cover the Shard building in London, Western Europe’s tallest building, which stands at 308 metres tall. 95% of the construction materials used to build it were recycled.
With a brief during the pandemic, the UK construction industry has been creating more and more buildings and structures each year since 2012.