careers construction operative

Construction Operative Jobs – Young Jobseeker Info

Construction operative jobs… did you know?

With your construction skills you’ll take on some really varied tasks to prepare construction sites. It goes way beyond putting up ladders and scaffolding. You could be making trenches for foundations, creating temporary walls out of thin air (steel sheets, actually) or working on roads. You’ll use all kinds of hand, power and machine tools. With time and training you could get to work with large-scale construction equipment like dumper trucks, too.

Industry: Construction

Construction operative job trends

How much money can you make as a construction operative?

£15,000 – £29,000 (UK average)

Recent labour market information says you can earn on average between £15,000 and £29,000 a year as a construction operative in the UK.

Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, location or the size of the company. Your salary as a construction operative will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.

What entry qualifications and training do you need for this job?

School, college and training

There are no required qualifications for being a construction operative. You may find it helpful to have GCSES (or equivalent) in maths and English to help with your communication skills and taking measurements. An example equivalent to GCSEs would be Technical Awards such as the City & Guilds TechBac.

Level 2 TechBac qualifications are aimed at learners aged 14-16.

Level 3 TechBac qualifications are aimed at learners aged 16+.

For example, with a level 2 Construction Technical Awards you might learn what to think about when planning a new construction project, and might also learn how to apply plasterboard.
You can also train on the job with an apprenticeship. This will give you a qualification combined with real-life experience.

You can also take a college course in building or construction skills. With a vocational qualification and work experience under your belt you could specialise in the construction trade that interests you most.

Useful qualifications include:

  • GCSEs in Construction, and Construction and the Built Environment
  • BTEC Introductory Certificate and Diploma in Construction (level 1)
  • City & Guilds/Construction Skills Foundation and Intermediate Construction Awards
  • Scottish Progression Award/Skills for Work Award in Building Crafts
  • City & Guilds Certificate and Introductory Certificate in Basic Construction Skills

While at school or college, speak to your careers advisor about useful training and/or courses for you to take and find out more about the types of career routes available.

Career progression and further qualifications

In time you could have the opportunity for career options like becoming a site supervisor, estimator or construction site manager.

What experience do you need for construction operative jobs?

Work experience

You can start with an entry-level position or earn money while you get trained with an apprenticeship.

At school/college and beyond, aim to get construction work experience to build your CV. This can involve:

  • Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
  • Work placements in a company

Ask around friends and family to see if you know anyone who works in construction or the building trade. Ask if there are any opportunities for you to do shadowing, work placements or work experience with them.


Apprenticeships are a common way to get into a construction career while getting structured training and mentoring, and also getting paid on the job. Taking a construction apprenticeship will also lead to industry-recognised qualifications and certifications. An example qualification would be a level 2 qualification in Construction Operations.

More specialised vocational qualifications are also available in:

  • Construction and Civil Engineering Services
  • Roadbuilding (Construction)
  • Constructional Steelwork Site Operations


Volunteering shows employers you have an active interest in what construction involves and can help you build up the life and work skills you need. Look for volunteering projects that give you a chance to work with your hands, follow instructions, keep to health and safety guidelines and build as a team.

Check the list of useful construction operative skills below. See if you can present own experience to employers in a way that shows your good understanding of what’s involved.

What skills do you need for construction operative jobs?

Useful skills to highlight to your employer when applying for jobs as a site supervisor or manager include:

  • Practical skills – you’ll enjoy working with your hands
  • Great teamwork skills
  • Good with heights
  • Able to follow instructions, both spoken and written ones

Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.

What does a construction operative do?

Knowing a little more about site management will help you show employers that you understand what this job is about. It can also help you decide if it’s right for you.

You could be hired by a big company or small one. You could be part of a team building a house, a bridge or even a tube station or airport.

You could be working on a general building project, or carrying out roadwork, or prepping (preparing) construction sites.

Example job responsibilities:

  • Preparing construction sites (putting up site huts, safety signs and barriers, ladders and scaffolding)
  • Constructing roads and pavements (which could involve mixing concrete, laying kerbs, carrying out block or flag paving and blacktop surfacing)
  • Setting out foundation areas to be dug
  • Preparing materials like plaster or cement, ready for use, and pouring concrete for use in construction
  • Transporting and stacking equipment, materials and tools

Your first steps into construction operative jobs

To find jobs for young people in this role, search on job boards for construction operative positions with words like these in the title:

  • General Construction Operative
  • Apprentice Construction Operative

Useful organisations and links for construction operative careers

If you’re already working in construction but don’t have any formal qualifications, you can work towards a recognised qualification and a CSCS card with these two programmes:

Having a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) cards shows you’ve been trained in health and safety. It’s a big plus in the construction industry, and all construction operatives need to have one.

Construction jobs you might like...

View job descriptions with average UK salary, useful qualifications and a variety of routes into this career. Or see our full list of careers in construction!

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