How to Become a Construction Worker (2023)

In the UK, the construction industry accounts for approximately 3 million jobs and 10% of total employment. A career in construction means being involved in the building, repairing and maintaining of structures, often working on a building site. A construction worker is a skilled occupation that is currently in demand due to an aging workforce and post-Brexit immigrationrules, making it a better time than ever to pursue this career.

If you’re interested in becoming a construction worker, you need to be aware of what requirements you may need to meet. This includes the ability to fulfil the demands of physical labour on a daily basis. In this article, we outline what qualifications, skills and experience you may need to pursue this career and how you can meet these requirements to become a construction worker.

What Qualifications Does a Construction Worker Require?

If you are considering a career in construction, there are several routes that you can take to develop your skills and achieve qualifications that improve your chances of employment.

College Courses

One option that you may decide on is a college course, such as a Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills or Level 2 Certificate in Construction Operations. Note that some courses may be named with some variation to this, like the City & Guilds Level 1 Extended Certificate in Construction Skills – Multi-Skill that is offered at York College, for example, but the learning outcomes will be similar.

Level 1 courses are at an introductory level. You can take this if you have no prior knowledge or understanding of the construction industry but recognise that it is an area in which you want to pursue a career. These courses are designed to develop an understanding of the basic practical skills that are essential in construction craft trades.

(Video) How to become a construction worker in 4 steps

Some modules may be optional and could include general construction principles, health and safety, plumbing, electrical installation, building maintenance, bricklaying, carpentry, joinery, and construction painting and decorating. There is often a large practical element to college courses, giving you the opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge you have learned and demonstrate your skills as part of the qualification.

Typically, you will need to meet certain entry requirements of having:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course.
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course.

However, this isn’t always the case, so don’t let this deter you if you are interested in becoming a construction worker through a college course. It’s always best to do your own research to understand the specific requirements of the courses that you are interested in pursuing.

How to Become a Construction Worker (1)


If you don’t think a college course is a suitable fit for you, you may want to consider an apprenticeship instead. Apprenticeships are available to anyone over the age of 16 (with no upper age limit) residing in England. For a construction labourer job, you may take a groundworker intermediate apprenticeship. This means that you will develop the skills necessary to prepare the ground before construction works can happen. A groundworker may be involved with removing vegetation, installing drainage and other pipework, as well as laying concrete.

An apprenticeship will train you on the job, meaning it is hands-on and you will learn the skills required as you go. It is a job; you will be employed from the first day you start, be paid a wage and get holiday pay. You will work alongside experienced construction workers and gain the skills that are required through undertaking them on a daily basis. You will also be given allocated time for study related to the role. This will be equivalent to one day a week but may be split differently, such as fortnightly study.

To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you usually need to meet certain criteria and have some GCSEs, often English and Maths. As with a college course, you should check the requirements for the specific type of apprenticeship that you are interested in yourself as they do vary.

Now might be a good time to apply for an apprenticeship as there are likely to be many available. In the 2021 Budget, the government announced that they are extending and increasing payments made to employers in England who hire new apprentices. This is likely to entice employers to hire more apprentices, meaning there will be more opportunities available to you.

(Video) The Construction Business : How to Become a Construction Worker

Applying Directly for Jobs

Neither a college qualification or an apprenticeship are essential requirements for a career as a construction worker. Even so, they are very useful in proving that you have the required knowledge and skills to be competent in the role. Because there are no set requirements, you can apply directly for jobs as an on-site labourer or trainee. However, if this is the path you wish to take, it will be helpful if you have some on-site experience or have worked in a builder’s merchants.

Going straight into work will allow you to develop your knowledge and skills from experienced colleagues. Your employer may also support you with further training to help you specialise in an area of construction.

How to Become a Construction Worker (2)

Other Qualifications

Although there aren’t any essential requirements to becoming a construction worker, there may be some requirements set by either your employer, or the principal contractor or client at the site you are working at.

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

While it is not a legal requirement, many employers require the construction workers at their site to hold a valid Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. The card is proof that you have had the appropriate training and possess the relevant qualifications to carry out your job on the construction site. It is seen as instrumental in improving health and safety standards on UK construction sites.

CSCS issue a number of cards, depending on the different occupations and qualifications in construction. For example, if you are undergoing an apprenticeship, there is a specific card for this. The requirements for the apprentice card can be found on the CSCS website, here.

Likewise, there is a labourer card that is valid for 5 years. There are more requirements that you must meet to gain this certification. You need to have passed the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test for operatives and hold one of the following:

  • An RQF Level 1/SCQF Level 4 Award in Health and Safety in a Construction Environment.
  • An SCQF Level 5 REHIS Elementary Health and Safety Certificate.
  • A CSCS approved alternative qualification.

You can find out more information about the CSCS and what types of cards are available on their website.

(Video) We Became Construction Workers And This Happened

There are other certification schemes that you may need to be a part of. This will depend on your specific job role and what your employer requires. For example, if you operate machinery then you may need to hold the skills card issued by the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS).

Online Awareness Training

As well as holding a valid Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, you will benefit from having undertaken training courses. This both improves your knowledge and keeps you safe while at work. At High Speed Training, we offer a variety of health and safety courses that help construction workers to be safe and engaged in their workplace.

Training courses that may be relevant include:

  • Asbestos Awareness (Category A)
  • Workplace First Aid
  • Basic Health and Safety Training
  • Health and Safety Training for Employees
  • Manual Handling
  • Working at Height

While it is not essential to have taken any of this training to become a construction worker, developing these skills and having certification of this will be beneficial.

How to Become a Construction Worker (3)

What Skills Do I Need to Work in Construction?

To work in construction you need to have a variety of skills. It is important that you recognise what a career in construction involves and whether you are capable of developing the skills required. Although rewarding, the job can also be very demanding, with long hours (typically 42 to 44 a week) and sometimes evening and weekend shifts and work away from home.

You will need to have the following skills:

  • A good level of fitness required to carry out physical work daily.
  • Knowledge of building and the construction industry.
  • The ability to pay attention to detail and be thorough.
  • The ability to work well with your hands.
  • Good communication skills and the ability to work well with others in a team.
  • The ability to use, maintain and repair tools and machines.
  • Accepting of criticism and able to work well under pressure to meet deadlines.
  • An understanding of the importance of health and safety.
  • Basic maths knowledge.
  • The ability to carry out simple tasks on a computer or hand-held device.

Depending on your place of work and specific duties, you may be required to have additional skills that are specific to the daily responsibilities. For example, if you need to work with certain plant machinery, you will need to be 18 years old and hold a driving licence.


If you possess these skills and qualities, you could be a good fit for a job role in the construction industry. While some skills need to be developed through practical work, the theoretical aspect of many skills can be learnt through online training courses, such as those previously mentioned.

How to Become a Construction Worker (4)

Roles and Responsibilities of Construction Workers

A construction worker may also be referred to as a construction labourer, groundworker, or general construction operator. Tasks that they carry out during a typical working day may include clearing vegetation and preparing the ground before building commences, and manual work while the project is in progress.

Construction workers are often responsible for a wide range of tasks which may include:

  • Marking out and digging trenches for building foundations and drains (groundwork).
  • Putting up panels to hold concrete in place as it sets (formwork).
  • Building temporary structures, such as scaffolding and bracing.
  • Operating concrete mixers to lay concrete for foundations, floors and beams.
  • Laying drainage pipes.
  • Laying kerbs and paving, and resurfacing roads.
  • Operating hand machinery such as saws and drills.
  • Operating machinery such as dumper trucks and excavators.
  • Assisting colleagues on-site by replenishing the required materials.

The majority of these responsibilities require a lot of physical work, including lifting and transporting various materials. As a result, it is crucial that you have the physical strength and stamina to be able to carry out the role of construction worker. You will likely be working on a construction site and you may be required to work at height and be outdoors in all weather conditions.

There are many job roles within the construction industry but a construction worker is considered to be one of the best jobs for someone looking to start their career in the sector. In terms of career progression, you may undertake further training and/or qualifications to specialise as a qualified tradesperson, such as a plant operator or bricklayer. You may want to progress to a more senior role, such as a site supervisor or team leader. Or, you may establish yourself as a self-employed contractor. Becoming a construction worker opens up various opportunities for you to specialise in the industry.

If you think you have some of the skills needed to become a construction worker and the responsibilities of the job appeal to you, then this may be a suitable career choice for you to pursue. Having an understanding of what the job role involves is important before you start any specific training. Next, you could consider the different ways to get into the construction industry and carry out some of your own research to find out what is available to suit your individual needs.

Further Resources:

  • PPE in Construction: Safety Guidance and Checklist
  • Ten Common Construction Site Hazards



Career DevelopmentTraining


How to Become a Construction Worker? ›

While formal education

Teacher education or teacher training refers to programs, policies, procedures, and provision designed to equip (prospective) teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, approaches, methodologies and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, school, and wider community. › wiki › Teacher_education
is not required to enter the occupation, some construction laborers take classes as part of an apprenticeship. Construction laborers and helpers learn their trade through on-the-job training (OJT). The length of training depends on the employer and the specialization.

How do I get started in the construction industry? ›

How to become a construction worker
  1. Earn a secondary education. Candidates often need a high school diploma or GED before applying to be a construction worker. ...
  2. Complete an apprenticeship. ...
  3. Take the OSHA certification. ...
  4. Finish specialty certifications. ...
  5. Improve their resume.
Mar 10, 2023

Why is there a labor shortage in construction? ›

A lack of public education about — and exposure to — construction and trades is a major cause of the labor shortage. A 2017 Builder story found that only 3% of people aged 18-25 wanted to work in construction.

How do I become a construction worker in NYC? ›

Have a High School Diploma or equivalency (GED/HSED) Have eighth-grade reading and math comprehension or above. Be interested in a career in the construction trades. Be willing to commit to a multi-year paid apprenticeship program with a union (after the pre-apprenticeship)

How do construction workers use geometry? ›

Geometry is used to design with the best angles to make structures as strong as possible, using shape, size, position and other properties. Civil engineers use geometry to design and assemble shapes to construct freeways, tunnels, bridges and more.

What is the highest paid construction trade? ›

Top 10 Highest Paying Construction Careers
  • 1) Senior Project Manager.
  • 2) Architect.
  • 3) Civil Engineer.
  • 4) Construction Manager.
  • 5) Heavy Construction Equipment Supervisor.
  • 6) Construction Estimator.
  • 7) Construction Inspector.
  • 8) Civil Engineering Technologist.
Aug 26, 2022

What is the easiest construction job? ›

11 Construction Jobs You Can Get With Little to No Experience
  • Flooring and Tile Installer.
  • Painter.
  • Insulation Installer.
  • Asphalt Laborer.
  • Landscape Laborer.
  • Roofer.
  • Solar Panel Installer.
  • Let Joblist Help You Find the Right Construction Job.

Does the US need more construction workers? ›

National payroll construction employment was 231,000 higher in December 2022 than in December 2021. “Despite sharp increases in interest rates over the past year, the shortage of construction workers will not disappear in the near future,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu.

What is the demand for construction workers? ›

ABC predicts demand for labor to increase by 3,620 new jobs for every $1 billion in new construction spending, on top of the current, above-average job openings.

Is there still a labor shortage in 2023? ›

Economists are predicting a slowdown in labor market activity in the U.S. in 2023 due to a likely recession, a continued battle with inflation, more layoffs and higher unemployment. But data shows the far greater concern lies in something that's not so changeable: demographics.

How much is a construction permit in NY? ›

LPC assesses a fee of 15 cents per square foot for new 1-3 family residences, and 25 cents per square foot for all other new buildings.

How much does New York construction union pay? ›

$38,200 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $56,247 is the 90th percentile. Salaries above this are outliers.

How much does a construction job pay in NYC? ›

$38,800 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $51,700 is the 75th percentile.

How hard is calculus? ›

Calculus is widely regarded as a very hard math class, and with good reason. The concepts take you far beyond the comfortable realms of algebra and geometry that you've explored in previous courses. Calculus asks you to think in ways that are more abstract, requiring more imagination.

Do you need to be good at math to be a construction worker? ›

3. Reading and Mathematics Skills. Construction jobs will require you to know math, algebra, and geometry, calculate building materials, keep track of measurements, and determine adjustments if necessary.

Do construction workers need to know math? ›

In the modern world, builders use math every day to do their work. Construction workers add, subtract, divide, multiply, and work with fractions. They measure the area, volume, length, and width. How much steel do they need for an office building?

How can I make a lot of money in construction? ›

Here are a few things to do, starting today, to be more profitable as a construction contractor.
  1. Be Selective with Projects. ...
  2. Have the Right Team in Place. ...
  3. Network to Build Relationships. ...
  4. Create Word-of-Mouth Referrals. ...
  5. Reduce Bonding Costs. ...
  6. Get a Contractor's License. ...
  7. Cut out Waste. ...
  8. Invest in the Business.
Mar 22, 2019

Can a construction worker become a millionaire? ›

Some millionaires, however, trace their fortunes to their time working as plumbers, farmers, construction workers, bus drivers and janitors. Here's a look at the millionaires who built their fortunes on the foundation of the high-paying manual labor jobs that got them started.

What blue collar jobs pay the most? ›

10 high-paying blue-collar jobs
  1. Construction and building inspector. ...
  2. Structural iron and steel worker. ...
  3. Locomotive engineer. ...
  4. Radio and telecommunications equipment installer. ...
  5. Gas plant operator. ...
  6. Electrical line installer and repairer. ...
  7. Boilermaker. ...
  8. Powerhouse, substation and relay repairer.
Mar 10, 2023

What trade is hardest on your body? ›

The most physically demanding trades involve a lot of lifting, bending, and climbing, and are also often quite dangerous. Right off the bat, roofing is often considered to be the most dangerous of any of the construction trades.

What is the hardest trade to learn? ›

When asked what type of work was most difficult to master (out of 32 different trades), the two groups of respondents (the average age of which was 43 years old) were in agreement again — electrical work was the hardest to master, followed by carpentry, HVAC, and cabinets/countertops.

What trade is easiest on your body? ›

Electricians. If you're looking for a skilled trade that's not physically taxing on your body, you might consider becoming an electrician. In this field, you won't be lifting heavy loads or working with big equipment. Instead, you'll be working with electricity all day.

What state pays construction workers the most? ›

Highest-Paid Construction Workers By State
RankState90th Percentile
1New York$64,000
46 more rows
Apr 17, 2023

What state makes the most money in construction? ›

As an example, the hottest states for construction workers in terms of average pay include Hawaii, coming in with an average construction industry annual salary around $70,000 and Illinois with an average yearly salary of more than $68,000. The rest of the best states for construction employment include: New York.

What state has the most construction work? ›

Texas. The Lone Star State employs 104,130 construction laborers, more than any other state in the nation. Texas is also home to the highest number and value — at approximately $152.7 billion — of energy and utilities projects in the U.S. construction project pipeline.

What is the best construction job to get into? ›

15 Best-Paying Construction Jobs
  • Construction Manager. Construction managers handle the lion's share of planning, budgeting and overall supervision of construction projects from beginning to end. ...
  • Elevator Installer. ...
  • Architect. ...
  • Estimator. ...
  • Boilermaker. ...
  • Building Inspector. ...
  • Plumber. ...
  • Brick Mason.
Nov 22, 2022

Are construction workers happy with their jobs? ›

At CareerExplorer, we conduct an ongoing survey with millions of people and ask them how satisfied they are with their careers. As it turns out, construction workers rate their career happiness 2.7 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 9% of careers.

Are there any benefits of being a construction worker? ›

Great benefits

Here's something that you may not get in that restaurant or retail job: health, dental, life, and disability insurance. And let's not forget paid time off, vacation days, and sick time. Your construction job likely will offer these benefits in addition to your regular wage.

How can people afford to live without working? ›

The only way to make a living without a job is to generate passive income. You can't just charge everything to a credit card. Passive income is money you generate without having to consistently work for it. It typically involves making an upfront investment in the form of time or labor.

Why is it so hard to hire right now 2023? ›

A global pandemic impacted every employment sector, as well as supply chains. Conditions brought significant changes to the workforce, such as remote work and hybrid work. Relocations away from major cities, a reaction to some quarantines, also occurred.

Will it be hard to get a job in 2023? ›

Overall, the job market is likely to slow down in 2023 as compared to the historically low unemployment rates of 2022. This is considered a return to normal economic conditions. However, new jobs will be created, and there will be opportunities for diligent job seekers to find work.

What can I build in NY without a permit? ›

  • Small site development - including finished grading and planting; fencing; and re-paving of existing roadways, parking lots and walkways.
  • Bleacher projects which involve only the installation of pre-engineered, factory-built equipment without foundations or sitework.

How do I get a construction license in NY? ›

To obtain a Home Improvement Contractor License, please visit the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs or call (212) 487-4060. If you need to renew, change or update your license, call (212) 487-4104.

How big of a building can I build without a permit in NY? ›

Size: Up to 120 square feet – no permits needed. Above 121 square feet – plans, approval, and permits required. Height: Maximum 7 feet 6 inches.

What's the highest paying union job? ›

Here is a list of 27 high-paying union jobs for you to consider in your career search:
  • Actor.
  • Automotive mechanic.
  • Marine service technician.
  • Ironworker.
  • Airline manager.
  • Carpenter.
  • Firefighter.
  • Customer service representative.
Mar 10, 2023

What is the highest paid trade in the union? ›

The Highest-Paid Trade Jobs
  • Radiation Therapists. ...
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologists. ...
  • Dental Hygienists. ...
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians. ...
  • Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians. ...
  • Boilermakers. ...
  • Construction and Building Inspectors. ...
  • Electricians.

What is the highest paying union job in NYC? ›

What are Top 5 Best Paying Related Union Jobs in New York
Job TitleAnnual SalaryMonthly Pay
Union Owner Operator Amazon$257,958$21,496
Union Owner Operator Truck Driver$212,973$17,747
Credit Union Cio$168,571$14,047
Cio Credit Union$168,571$14,047
1 more row

How much does a handyman make a year in New York City? ›

$36,077 is the 25th percentile.

What is the hourly rate for a contractor in NYC? ›

As of May 12, 2023, the average annual pay for a General Contractor in New York is $85,641 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $41.17 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,646/week or $7,136/month.

How much do NYC steel workers make? ›

$42,400 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $69,521 is the 90th percentile. Salaries above this are outliers.

What's the hardest math? ›

The Continuum Hypothesis is a mathematical problem involving the concept of infinity and the size of infinite sets. It was first proposed by Georg Cantor in 1878 and has remained one of the unsolvable and hardest math problems ever since.

Is it OK to fail calculus? ›

No, it is normal for the majority of the students in a calculus class in college. to pass the course. It is normal to find calculus a difficult course, and it is normal to have to study hard.

What's harder than calculus? ›

In general, statistics is more vast and covers more topics than calculus. Hence, it is also perceived to be more challenging. Basic or entry-level statistics is much easier as compared to basic level calculus. Advance level statistics is much much harder than advanced level calculus.

How to start a construction company with no construction experience? ›

  1. Research Your Local Market. Your first question should be whether a construction company is even a viable option in your area. ...
  2. Write Your Business Plan. ...
  3. Register Your Business. ...
  4. Find the Right Licenses & Permits. ...
  5. Secure Insurance & Liabilities. ...
  6. Get the Funding You Need. ...
  7. Grow Your Business. ...
  8. Conclusion: Don't Go It Alone.

How to make money in the construction industry? ›

Here are a few things to do, starting today, to be more profitable as a construction contractor.
  1. Be Selective with Projects. ...
  2. Have the Right Team in Place. ...
  3. Network to Build Relationships. ...
  4. Create Word-of-Mouth Referrals. ...
  5. Reduce Bonding Costs. ...
  6. Get a Contractor's License. ...
  7. Cut out Waste. ...
  8. Invest in the Business.
Mar 22, 2019

How do I move up in the construction industry? ›

Completing an apprenticeship is one of the most accessible and effective ways to advance your career in construction. Unsurprisingly, many individuals choose to kick-start their construction careers by pursuing an apprenticeship, equipping them with the necessary skills and qualifications to progress in the industry.

Is construction good for money? ›

Yes, construction workers make good money when compared to other jobs in similar industries and with similar qualifications. Construction workers do most of their training at their jobs, so they do not need to go through expensive, time-consuming programs.

Why does construction make so much money? ›

This is another reason construction jobs pay well: it's difficult to outsource or replace them. Since construction jobs aren't easily outsourced, workers can demand (and receive) a higher wage for their work. Employers have to hire workers right here, so they have to pay them what they're willing to work for.

How much profit should you make on a construction job? ›

The ideal profit margin target is 8% to 15%. Profits do not always guarantee a higher salary for the contractor. The contractor's salary is included in the overhead expenses. Any profits made should be reinvested in the business.

Are construction workers in high demand? ›

The construction industry in California is booming. Demand for property in cities across the state continues to grow. This is driving the need for AEC firms to hire skilled professionals. This demand will create unlimited opportunities for construction professionals looking to level up.

How to bid out construction jobs? ›

How to Bid a Job
  1. Follow the bid instructions studiously.
  2. Properly account for all your overhead costs.
  3. Only work with subcontractors who are skilled and reliable.
  4. Ask the client for clarification whenever necessary.
  5. Keep your information organized.
  6. Provide every detail necessary to state your case.
Aug 22, 2022

Do you have to be strong to do construction? ›

While some jobs in the building trades can be physically intense, there are many that don't require brute strength or really much strength at all. It's one of the biggest myths of construction work! In fact, many people choose a career in the building trades because of the physical aspects.

What do construction workers wear? ›

Construction workers typically wear work suits or work pants and a hard hat while working on a construction site. They also usually wear safety glasses, work gloves, and earplugs for protection.

How long does it take to build a construction? ›

How long do new construction homes take to build? First, let's consider the time it takes to have a new home built from scratch. In 2021, it took an average of 7.2 months from start to completion to build a home after a permit was issued, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


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