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7 types of professions in construction

This article explores construction professions and looks at the key role they play in the delivery of any construction project.

Construction professionals play an essential role in the delivery of any construction project.

Working closely alongside construction workers, tradespeople and managers, they play key roles in the delivery of construction projects. However, learning how to do these professional jobs follows a very different path to those we have already described, and will involve academic education and years of study.

Professions in construction

We have categorised the jobs in the construction industry into three main types:

  • unskilled jobs that do not require formal training or qualifications
  • trades and crafts which typically require vocational or on-the-job training
  • construction professions.

There are many construction professions, let’s take a brief look at some of those on offer.

1. Buyer, also known as a procurement manager or purchasing manager

Buyers are responsible for purchasing all the materials that will be necessary for a construction project. They provide accurate information to estimators in the planning stages and ensure the profitability of the project by keeping costs within budget.

They must liaise with a large number of suppliers, obtain quotes and manage delivery times. Buyers most often work in an office. While there isn’t a formal route to becoming a buyer, many people study a relevant course at university or undertake a degree apprenticeship, for example in supply chain management or logistics.

2. Estimator

The estimator is the person responsible for accurately pricing a construction job. They must work out client needs and plans, and then accurately estimate all relevant costs including labour, materials, products, equipment, transport and any other associated costs.

The estimator will help to draw up bids for work as well as provide detailed prices for those managing the project to stick to. Much like buyers, there is no formal path to becoming an estimator but most will study a construction-related degree, such as quantity surveying.

3. Building services engineer

Building services engineers design, install and maintain systems that make buildings safe, efficient and comfortable. They’ll be responsible for ensuring that the buildings perform optimally for the people who use them – this includes lighting, lifts, ventilation, alarms, fire systems, energy usage, communications, heating and air conditioning and water systems.

Building services engineers make decisions about the best use of these systems and their life cycles. Their work could be in public buildings like schools and hospitals or private buildings like office blocks.

Building services engineers train through a relevant degree or apprenticeship degree, but can also start out as trainees with a college education or a higher apprenticeship.

4. Structural engineer

Structural engineers help to design and build big buildings and structures, making sure that the structures can handle the pressures and loads that will be put upon them in usage, and ensuring they meet relevant regulations.

They will have to plan and model the structure, simulating the impacts of things like wind, flooding and earthquakes to ensure that the structure will remain stable and safe. Structural engineers advise on materials, design and regulations, and undertake assessments on existing structures to ensure they remain safe to use.

They also advise on any repairs. Becoming a structural engineer most commonly begins with a degree in structural or civil engineering but it is also possible to undertake a higher national diploma and then start out as a trainee, or complete a civil engineering apprenticeship degree.

5. Surveyor

There is a range of jobs in surveying, including building surveyors and land surveyors. Building surveyors assess buildings and advise on the construction, maintenance and repair of buildings. This includes establishing who is responsible for costs, reporting for insurance claims and checking properties meet relevant regulations.

Land surveyors, on the other hand, assess and measure the land to collect information to be used in construction and civil engineering projects, including drawing accurate site plans, often using highly technical equipment.

Both jobs will require an accredited degree before moving into a graduate scheme. Other routes include apprenticeships in a junior role such as a surveying technician, where you may have the opportunity to progress with further training and experience.

6. Quantity surveyor

Quantity surveyors are responsible for estimating the costs involved in construction projects, and also have responsibility for helping to control costs for the duration of the project too.

They work out the quantities required and the costs of labour and materials, to ensure projects come within budget. Quantity surveyors are also responsible for legal, health and safety and standards considerations. You can undertake a degree in quantity surveying, or complete a postgraduate conversion course if you hold a relevant degree.

It is also possible to do an apprenticeship as a surveying technician and then progress to quantity surveying with more experience and more training.

7. Architect

Architects design homes and buildings, as well as designing the adaptation of existing ones and restoration projects. They are responsible for the very detailed, technical and specific plans of a construction project, working within standards, laws, regulations and best practices and choosing appropriate materials.

Architects are responsible for making a client’s ideas come to life, securing planning permission and then monitoring the build to ensure it meets the plans. The most common route to becoming an architect is through a degree, although you can also access the job through a degree apprenticeship.

The degree, practical experience and training, as well as the specific architect qualification, will take around seven years.

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