Graduates in a range of specialisms are needed in the property and construction industry - to overcome skills shortages and help the sector recover from the pandemic
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
For examples of job roles in this sector, see property and construction jobs.
You may also want to explore graduate engineering jobs.
Who are the main graduate employers?
Some of the largest companies in the property and construction sector are:
- Avison Young
- Balfour Beatty
- BAM Construct UK
- Barratt Developments
- Carter Jonas
- Cushman & Wakefield
- Grosvenor Group
- Kier Group
- Knight Frank
- Laing 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.
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. You could consider taking a conversion course if you've already been to university.
Take a look at what you can do with a building and construction management degree.
You can also read more about construction management courses or search postgraduate courses in civil engineering and construction.
In some areas 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.
Some other professions don't always require a degree. You could consider entering this sector through a construction apprenticeship.
For information on entry requirements and qualifications for specific roles, see our property and construction 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:
- commercial awareness
- IT literacy
- negotiation skills
- problem-solving skills
- strong numeracy
- strong time management
Find out more about the general skills that employers want.
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 don't formally advertise opportunities. It's therefore likely you'll need to make a speculative application.
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. Search for property and construction graduate schemes.
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, recruitment sites such as Careers in Construction (CiC) and specialist recruitment agencies such as Randstad will all help you find work.
Alternatively, search graduate jobs in property and construction.
What challenges does the construction industry face?
With an ageing workforce perceived as male-dominated and lacking in diversity, it's no wonder fewer young people are interested in entering property and construction.
The technology is outdated and the industry as a whole has underperformed in recent years. Sustainable construction is also a pressing concern. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the construction industry currently accounts for over as third of worldwide energy usage.
However, before the pandemic struck, things were set to improve. Of the 200 leaders and influencers surveyed across the construction industry in the Causeway Construction's Digital Front Line report (2019), four-fifths (81%) stated that they were committed to improving their businesses digitally. Those already adopting digital technologies had seen increased efficiency through increased profitability (39%), increased workforce productivity and reduced operating costs (81%).
The move towards sustainable construction is also significant - the increasing use of renewable energy sources, as well as improvements to areas such as waste recycling models and structure design and management, could have a huge impact on global spending - saving billions per year.
Despite this renewed cause for optimism, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed how the UK's construction output fell by 40% in April 2020, as the nation went into lockdown. The government has since responded by committing £1.3billion towards infrastructure and housing projects, as part of a plan to boost skills in the sector and help to stimulate a green economy recovery.
Find out more
- Learn more about the property and construction sector.
- Consider these 9 graduate careers for surveyors.
- Read our 7 tips for getting into civil engineering.