Graduate jobs and schemes in construction

How do you get a graduate job 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

Graduates can usually find construction vacancies 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)
A specific degree grade isn't always asked for: traditionally, construction employers are more interested in your passion for construction and your skills than your academic results.

Do you apply for graduate schemes or individual jobs?

You can apply for both. 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 specific roles in specific locations.

What about deadlines for construction jobs?

The number of graduates a construction company takes on depends on how many projects they have in the pipelines. This means that, while individual jobs will have deadlines and some graduate schemes will initially have closing dates in the autumn term, some schemes may re-open or be 'open' for applications all year. Don't be complacent, though: even those construction recruiters that keep their vacancies open all year prefer to fill the majority of their positions with candidates who apply before Christmas.

What degrees are welcome?

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

  • Building services engineers require a building services, mechanical or electrical engineering BEng or MEng
  • 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, 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 focuses on the design stage... to the contractors and subcontractors that build it… to the facilities management and services companies who maintain it.

Find out more about how a construction project gets built.

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.

What skills do you need for construction jobs?

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

  • Problem solving and the ability to change plans according to changing circumstances
  • Decision-making and leadership
  • Good relationship-building, communication and influencing skills
  • The ability to prioritise
  • Commercial awareness, which includes being aware how your actions will directly affect the profitability of a project
Read our tips on how to develop the non-technical skills needed for construction industry jobs here.