Despite challenges posed by increased material costs, supply chain disruptions and labour shortages, the UK construction industry continues to grow

What areas can I work in?

Careers in the property and construction sector can be grouped into:

  • architecture
  • 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
  • valuation.

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:

  • Amey
  • Arcadis
  • Arup
  • Atkins
  • Avison Young
  • Balfour Beatty
  • BAM Construct UK
  • Barratt Developments
  • Carter Jonas
  • CBRE
  • Countrywide
  • Cushman & Wakefield
  • Grosvenor Group
  • JLL
  • Kier Group
  • Knight Frank
  • Laing O'Rourke
  • Lendlease
  • Morgan Sindall
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Redrow
  • Savills UK
  • Skanska
  • VINCI Construction UK
  • Willmott Dixon.

In addition to these major recruiters, 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 £23,000 to £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.

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.

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 as an architect - also see how to become an architect - demands great attention to detail, accuracy and creativity. 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
  • excellent time management
  • teamwork.

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 construction internships 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.

Search for work experience in property and construction.

Where can I find property and construction graduate schemes?

The largest 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.

For example, Balfour Beatty runs a two-year technical graduate scheme that allows you to study towards a relevant professional qualification with industry bodies such as RICS and the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

By joining Redrow's property graduate scheme, you can join either the divisional or group support development programme. With the former, you'll rotate across different areas of the business during the first year, and then get to specialise in the second year. This also includes a construction-based programme where you'll gain experience working on a Redrow development site. The group support scheme provides an opportunity to work in functions such as finance, marketing, IT, legal or sustainability.

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 are the construction industry challenges?

Employing around 2.66 million people in the UK (Statista, 2022), the UK construction industry contributes over £110billion a year to the economy.

However, despite posting strong growth figures for the first few months of 2022, it's clear there are still challenges ahead - with threats posed by rising inflation, the higher cost of energy and materials, as well as disruptions to the supply chain.

One of the biggest concerns relates to meeting construction demand over the next few years, due to the lack of skilled labour.

According to The skills construction needs (2022), a five-year UK construction industry outlook report from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), 266,000 workers are needed by 2026 to meet the expected growth.

Tim Balcon, chief executive of the CITB, has revealed that construction managers and carpenters/joiners will be among the professions most in demand, along with civil engineering technicians, electronics technicians, estimators and valuers.

The industry also has to go some way to change the way it's perceived as male-dominated and lacking in diversity if it's hoping to attract a new generation into the property and construction sector.

When addressing the issue of equality, diversity and inclusion, the CIOB has noted how there's been a noticeable shift within construction in recent times towards ensuring the built environment is more inclusive and diverse.

Despite this, women still only make up 15% of the workforce (dropping to 2% for those working on site), with organisations such as Women into Construction working to promote gender equality in construction through employment programmes and support.

Sustainable construction is also a pressing concern across the globe. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the construction industry accounted for nearly a third (30%) of worldwide energy usage in 2021.

As a major contributor to the UK's carbon emissions and waste, the construction industry is under mounting pressure to choose renewable and recyclable materials, increase project efficiency and adopt greener supply chains to reduce its environmental impact, in line with the government's Construction 2025 strategy.

Find out more

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