Launch your career in property and construction by researching the types of job available, who the main employers are and what qualifications you'll need to get started
What areas can I work in?
Careers in the property and construction sector can be grouped into:
- building control
- building services engineering
- building surveying
- civil engineering
- construction management
- estate agencies
- estate management
- facilities management
- historic buildings conservation
- housing management
- land surveying
- property development
- quantity surveying
- structural engineering
- town and country planning
You may also want to explore graduate engineering jobs.
For examples of job roles in this sector, see property and construction jobs.
Who are the main graduate employers?
Some of the largest companies in the property and construction sector are:
- Balfour Beatty
- BAM Construct UK
- Barratt Developments
- Carter Jonas
- Countrywide Group
- Cushman & Wakefield
- Kier Group
- Knight Frank
- Lang O'Rourke
- Mott Macdonald
- Savills UK
- VINCI Construction UK
- Willmott Dixon.
Discover more construction companies. In addition to these examples, jobs can be found in architectural practices, construction consultancies and housing organisations.
There are also opportunities with local authorities, infrastructure providers and organisations that own historic properties, such as English Heritage and the National Trust.
What's it like working in the sector?
You can expect:
- a fast-paced working environment with strict deadlines
- starting salaries of between £23,000 and £30,000 on graduate schemes
- self-employment to be possible with experience and chartered status
- the opportunity to work abroad either full time or on individual projects
- to spend significant time on site, even in management roles.
Do I need a related degree?
For specialist areas of the property and construction sector, including architecture, engineering, surveying and town planning, you'll need an accredited degree at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Search postgraduate courses, consider taking a conversion course or read more about construction management courses.
In areas such as estate management, facilities management and construction management, a specialist degree can be an advantage, but many entrants have other qualifications. A business-related degree may be required for graduate schemes in commercial areas such as marketing and HR, while larger companies are always looking for IT and digital experts.
A number of property companies advertise graduate schemes for those without a related degree. These offer support to new employees to gain relevant surveying or planning postgraduate professional qualifications. Find out more about graduate schemes.
For specific information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.
What skills do employers want?
The skills you need vary from job to job. For example, to be an estate agent it's vital that you're a brilliant communicator and salesperson. Working in architecture demands great attention to detail, accuracy and creativity. And becoming a property developer requires the ability to negotiate deals and identify opportunities.
Skills shortages are a major problem in the construction industry. This means that you can impress employers and put yourself in a great position when it comes to job vacancies by demonstrating that you have skills such as:
- commercial awareness
- IT literacy
- negotiation skills
- problem-solving skills
- strong numeracy
- strong time management
Where can I get work experience?
Major employers in the property and construction sector often advertise industry placements and summer internships on their websites.
You should check whether you're eligible as these are sometimes restricted to penultimate-year students, or those studying a degree accredited by a professional body, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Most employers are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that do not formally advertise work placements or shadowing opportunities. You will need to make a speculative application to secure a position.
Meanwhile, many degrees in relevant subjects include optional or compulsory sandwich placements, giving you another opportunity to gain experience. Find out more about work experience and internships.
To explore work placements and internships that are available now, search for work experience in property and construction.
How do I find a graduate job in property and construction?
Large property and construction companies have formal graduate schemes in technical areas, such as surveying, planning, engineering and environmental management, as well as in commercial areas including operational or project management. Look at the careers section of their websites for more information.
Smaller organisations in the sector tend not to recruit through graduate schemes, but hire as and when they need new staff. Specialist press such as Building and recruitment sites such as Careers in Construction (CiC) are among the best places to find vacancies.
Jobs are often advertised on the websites of professional associations. You can also use a specialist recruitment agency, for example Randstad.
Alternatively, search graduate jobs in property and construction.
What challenges does the construction industry face?
The construction industry faces a number of key challenges, including:
- Ageing workforce - more than a fifth of the construction workforce is over the age of 50, so employers are eager to attract talented new graduates.
- Brexit - the construction industry has relied more heavily on skilled European Union (EU) workers than many other sectors, so the uncertainty around the UK's future relationship with the EU makes planning future projects difficult.
- Image - younger workers are sometimes put off by the public perception of construction as a male-dominated workforce that lacks diversity, something that many employers are attempting to change.
- Productivity - in the last two decades the UK construction industry has failed to improve its poor levels of productivity, but embracing new technologies and methods such as off-site manufacturing could solve this.
- Skills shortages - around a fifth of vacancies are not properly filled because employers can't find candidates with the right skills and qualifications.