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Graduate jobs and schemes in construction

How do you get a graduate job with construction employers?

You apply for either a graduate programme or a specific job in a particular location. Larger construction employers and infrastructure employers offer UK-wide graduate schemes (in which case they will often ask you to specify location preferences) and sometimes advertise individual jobs in particular offices. Other organisations will advertise one-off roles.

The recruitment processes run by larger construction companies tend to involve multiple stages:

  • An application form, which might ask you questions and/or ask you to submit a CV and cover letter
  • Online tests – typically situational judgement tests (SJTs) or numerical
  • A telephone or, occasionally, a video interview
  • An assessment day, which typically involves group exercises, case studies or technical exercises, presentations and an interview.

For smaller organisations, you will typically email a CV and covering letter and attend a face-to-face interview.

We have construction-specific advice for graduate online applications, CVs and covering letters,  face-to-face interviews, video interviews and assessment days on TARGETjobs.

You can also read our article on answering commercial interview questions here.

You don’t always need a 2.1 or a first; many employers will accept 2.2s because they are typically more interested in your skills and experience than your academic results.

What skills do you need for construction jobs?

These vary slightly according to the role but, alongside some technical knowledge, most construction jobs require evidence of your:

  • Problem-solving capability and the ability to change plans according to changing circumstances
  • Decision-making and leadership
  • Good relationship-building, communication and influencing skills
  • Prioritising and organisation: both for yourself and of others
  • Commercial awareness

Read our tips on how to develop the non-technical skills needed for construction industry jobs here.

What kind of jobs can I get in construction?

The range of graduate careers in construction is vast: from management roles (such as construction or site manager, project manager, design manager and facilities manager) to engineering roles (including building services engineer, electrical engineer and mechanical engineer) to sustainability roles (such as environmental adviser). To find out more about quantity surveying and civil engineering roles, see our search results pages here:

Graduate jobs in quantity surveying

Graduate jobs in civil engineering

Graduates can usually find construction jobs with:

  • Construction consultants and construction contractors
  • Architectural practices
  • Housebuilders and property developers
  • Property firms
  • Infrastructure and utilities companies, such as Network Rail
  • Local authorities and public sector organisations (in smaller numbers)

What degrees do you need to get a graduate job in construction?

In general, you will need a construction or building-related degree. For example:

  • Building services engineers typically require a building services, mechanical or electrical engineering BEng or MEng, but employers may accept another type of engineering or a physics degree if you have a strong interest in construction
  • Construction managers will need a construction-related undergraduate or postgraduate degree; a few companies can take on graduates without a construction subject and sponsor them through a postgraduate conversion course, but this is rare nowadays
  • You can apply with any degree for a facilities manager job, but many employers prefer a construction or business subject
  • If you want to advise on sustainability matters, for example as an environment manager, you usually need a degree with a strong emphasis on the environment.

What is it like to work in construction?

The typical construction project involves multiple organisations: from the original client… to architects and consultancies that focus on the design stage... to the contractors and subcontractors that build it… to the facilities management and services companies who maintain it.

This means that working in construction is very sociable; it involves a lot of interactions with different professionals, clients and, in some cases, members of the public. It also means that there is a role for all types of skills sets. There are roles that involve a great deal of technical knowhow and roles that involve being able to lead others and see the bigger picture of a project. There are roles that require you to be out on site all day and for you to be sat at a desk in head office. Working hours vary, too: if you are out on site, you will probably find yourself starting earlier and finishing later than at a normal office job and may need to work shifts, while those who have an office job are more likely to work standard office hours, with occasional overtime near deadlines. Most people working in construction enjoy being able to say 'I helped build that' when they see the finished project.

Find out more about the day-to-day work of different construction professionals in our 'job roles explained' section..