Build your own career in construction

19 March, 2021
A female drafts-person and male site foreman reviewing blueprint plans on a table.

Build your own career in construction

Construction is big business in Australia. Our third largest industry, it employs more than 1.1 million people. Despite the short-term impact of COVID-19, the outlook for the sector is strong. The Australian Government will invest an additional $14 billion in new and accelerated infrastructure projects over the next four years, which will support a further 40,000 jobs.

The industry is involved with the construction, demolition, renovation, maintenance or repair of building and infrastructure. The services covered are wide and varied, with people employed with a range of specialist trades and skills sets; from planning and surveying to structural construction and finishing services such as painting and installing floors. Construction is also undergoing unprecedented change as a result of technological innovation in types of construction materials (prefabricated), nature of building architecture (modular) and new labour automation processes.

This change is increasing demand for new construction occupations including programmers, logistics managers, materials engineers, service technicians, environmental infrastructure managers and more. Currently, around one third of the construction workforce is made up of labourers, so there is an ongoing need for people to fill that role. 

The construction industry is divided into three multidisciplinary sectors:

  1. General contractors, who are responsible for the organisation and oversight of plumbers, painters and electricians.
  2. Specialist trade construction, such as brick layers, installers and carpenters.
  3. Civil engineers, who specialise in building roads, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure.

Top employing occupations include carpenters and joiners, electricians, construction managers, plumbers and building and plumbers labourers.

If you enjoy working outdoors, operating a range of tools and equipment, and developing practical skills for life, or a mix of the above, there’s a good chance you’ll find a career in construction that is right for you. Although traditionally a male dominated industry (85.5 per cent male according to a recent survey), the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) has been established to boost the number of female workers.

If you would like more information on working in construction, including typical day-to-day tasks, average weekly salary and links to job vacancies visit yourcareer.gov.au/occupations and use the search feature for details.

For more information on this sector visit Your Career - Construction

What training is required?

There have been significant skill changes in construction around innovations in work practices, the evolving use of technologies, the shift from manual to digital practices and advanced manufacturing practices. As a result, many future jobs in construction are likely to require higher levels of digital literacy and tailored and flexible training to adapt to new technologies.

The construction industry has a significant focus on workplace health and safety (WHS).  Make sure you understand the requirements in your state or territory.

Job finding tip

There are multiple career opportunities in construction. It is important to choose work that you enjoy and are capable of doing. Research potential long-term prospects such as options to move around or up in the industry as you build your skills. Only about half (49.1%) of the employers in construction advertise on online jobs boars, such as Seek and CareerOne. Over a third of employers (36.5%) fill vacancies using word of mouth. It is important to let people know when you are looking for work, as people with experience in the industry are often likely to know who is looking for staff. 

Still wondering about your career path?

Check out the School Leavers Information Kit to see if this is the right option for you. The kit can give you tailored information about education, training and work options as you take your next steps.

If you’d like to talk to someone about a career in the construction industry, you can contact the School Leavers Information Service on 1800 CAREER or text SLIS2020 to 0429 009 435. This service can provide more tailored support about your options and the training opportunities that suit you including help polishing your resume or where to find jobs and training.

More tips to start you on your way

If your wellbeing is being impacted by COVID-19 but you don’t know where to start looking for support, the COVID-19 support page has some information and links that could assist you.

 

Warwick’s story

Warwick Johnstone was 17 when he enrolled in an Australian School-based Apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery.

In his second year, his outstanding achievements in the trade saw him named the Australian School-based Apprentice of the Year at the 2007 Australian Training Awards.

“My Australian School-based Apprenticeship helped me grow up and become independent at a young age,” Warwick said.

“I developed a skillset that I will have for life while completing secondary school which left the option of university study open.

“I had the opportunity to step up into leadership roles throughout my apprenticeship as a leading hand and eventually a site supervisor.”

Warwick said he enjoys his career in the building industry and commenced a Bachelor of Construction Management.

Warwick is now employed by a commercial construction company in Melbourne as a senior estimator for Hutchinson Builders.

“As an estimator, I’ve found it much easier coming from a trade- based background. I have learnt to speak the same language as the sub-contractors and their staff. Without that knowledge in the back of my mind my work would be much harder,” Warwick said.

He has this advice for secondary school students considering an Australian School-based Apprenticeship:

“I think it’s important for everyone entering the trades to know that an apprenticeship is a dynamic career path and can lead you in many directions that may not be clear right now but will continually change, and one day become clear!

“Don’t be daunted by the opportunities in front of you - it is rare that anyone at a young age has a clear idea of exactly what they want to do. Shortlist a few trades you are interested in and approach local businesses to do some work experience.

“Initially, you will be out of your comfort zone, but remember that just because you choose a certain job it does not mean you are committed to that job for the rest of your life.

“There are so many opportunities to move into different areas of your industry or a completely different industry once you are qualified.”

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Take your next step now: find the types of jobs currently available or a short course to build on your skills.