2.2s: which employers accept them in construction, civil engineering and quantity surveying?

'I have got a 2.2 in my degree. How can I start a career in construction, civil engineering and quantity surveying?' We investigate which employers accept job applications from candidates who haven't got a 2.1.

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The construction industry has always been interested more in a candidate’s skills than in their academic qualifications.

If you are looking for jobs with a 2.2 degree, the truth is that they will be harder to find than if you have a 2.1. But unlike in some other career sectors, a good number of construction, engineering and surveying employers do open their graduate programmes to people with a 2.2. The construction industry has always been interested more in a candidate’s skills (particularly their people skills, management abilities and practical approaches to problem-solving) than in their on-paper academic qualifications.

A list of the construction, civil engineering and quantity surveying graduate jobs that accept 2.2s in 2021

  • AECOM accepts 2.2s
  • Amey accepts a minimum of a 2.2 for its graduate programmes.
  • Atkins and its sister business Faithful+Gould accept 2.2s for some of its graduate programmes, particularly if you have a masters; check the individual job postings.
  • Babcock International Group accepts graduates with a 2.2 or above for most of its schemes, including civil and structural engineering.
  • BAE Systems accepts a 2.2 or above for its graduate development programmes (with the exception of finance).
  • Balfour Beatty will take a 2.2 for most of its graduate jobs.
  • BAM Construct UK and BAM Nuttall don’t specify a minimum degree grade.
  • Barratt Developments requires a 2.2 or above its ASPIRE graduate programme and doesn’t specify a degree grade for its accelerated programmes.
  • The Berkeley Group doesn’t specify a degree grade requirement.
  • ISG’s graduate programme accepts a 2.2.
  • Kier Group accepts a 2.2 for its graduate programmes.
  • Lendlease accepts 2.2s for some of its graduate programmes.
  • nucleargraduates accepts a 2.2 for its graduate vacancies.
  • Skanska UK does not appear to be specifying a minimum degree grade on its graduate job advertisements.

NB: This is not an exhaustive list.

Construction, engineering and surveying jobs can open up all year round, so search targetjobs regularly for vacancies and check their entry requirements.

It's also worth investigating opportunities with smaller employers who may be able to be more flexible when it comes to your degree result. A number of construction employers also allow you to register your interest in the company and submit a CV ‘on spec’; they will be in contact

How to get a graduate job in construction with a 2.2

Even when applying to employers who accept 2.2s, you’ll still be up against students who have a 2.1 or a first. To put it bluntly, you need to write an outstanding application.

Demonstrate your commitment to a career in construction

On your CV, in your covering letter or when answering appropriate application questions, clearly outline what you have done to further your interest in construction. These actions could include:

  • any industry-related work experience or voluntary work you have done
  • any online or in-person events or initiatives that you have taken part of as part of your course outside of it
  • being a member of, and active participant in, professional bodies or industry-related student societies, eg your civil engineering society
  • any research projects or reading you’ve done as part of your course, for example into the latest technologies.

We are aware that many of the above activities may have been stopped or paused by the pandemic – many construction employers had to cancel their placements, for example. Don’t worry too much about this; construction employers know that this has been an unprecedented time and will not expect a ‘busy’ CV during this time.

However, it will enhance your chances if you are able to show that you have used this time to further develop your passion for the industry (such as attending industry-related webinars, getting more actively involved with your professional body) and developed your skills in other ways – our feature on 14 career-friendly activities you can do while social distancing should give you inspiration.

Even if a piece of work experience or an extracurricular activity doesn’t seem relevant to the construction industry at all, the chances are it will be more relevant than you think. For example, if you shelf-stacked at a supermarket, you would have multi-tasked when interrupted by customers with enquiries and when working on site you will need to multi-task when faced with interruptions and unexpected events. Identify and make the most of these points of similarity.

Get suggestions for how to write up your lockdown experiences on your CV

Impress through research and being specific

All construction employers want to hire graduates who want to work for their employer in particular – not just any employer and definitely not their biggest competitors! As such, the graduate recruiters who accept 2.2s are likely to take a well-researched and considered application from a candidate with a 2.2 over a sloppy, generic application from a candidate with a first.

So research the employer thoroughly and use your findings to substantiate your reasons for applying. For example, if you are stating that you are applying to a company because of its range of projects, write about specific projects – say why they impress you and make you want to work for the company.

Practise online psychometric tests and online aptitude tests

The largest built environment employers increasingly use online tests as a way of ‘sifting’ candidates, setting test scores as a cut off point to differentiate between applicants. You will usually need to pass these before you get to see an interviewer face to face and so it is worth putting in the time to do as many practice tests as possible. Go to targetjobs ‘psychometric test’ section for links to free and paid-for practice tests. The most common tests set by employers in the construction, engineering and surveying are numeracy, inductive reasoning and situational judgement.

Will a postgraduate degree cancel out a 2.2?

This really does depend on the individual employer. One or two 2.1-seeking employers have told us in the past that they might accept 2.2s if the candidate has achieved a distinction or high grade in a masters-level qualification – but this is by no means guaranteed. Before deciding to embark on postgraduate study in an attempt to make up for your undergraduate results, contact a range of employers to get a feel for whether it is worth the expense and time.

What if I have mitigating circumstances for my 2.2?

If your 2.2 is due to extenuating circumstances, for example bereavement or a period of illness (including Covid-19), you can usually still apply to the employers that normally require a 2.1. ‘We look at genuine circumstances that have prevented the students from obtaining the grade they were hoping for,’ says Melissa Hopper, graduate recruitment manager at Mott MacDonald. ‘Each case is looked at on an individual basis.’ To confirm whether 2.1-seeking employers will consider your application, look at their graduate recruitment website or contact the recruitment team (via email, phone or face to face at a careers fair). Also read our advice on how to approach employers about mitigating circumstances and what to say.

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