How To Become a Construction Worker

Updated 3 April 2023

A construction worker is responsible for projects relating to the construction of residential and commercial buildings. If you are technically minded, have a passion for the outdoors and have an eye for development, construction could be an ideal career path for you. In this article, we offer a numbered step guide on how to become a construction worker followed by insights on the required qualifications, education and skills. We'll also tell you how long it takes to become a construction worker and whether it is a well-paid profession.

Read More: How To Change Careers

How to become a construction worker

The key to becoming a construction worker is to gain as much real-life experience as possible. Follow these numbered steps if you are looking to enter a career in construction work:

1. Achieve high school grades at year 10 level or above

Candidates can apply for construction worker roles at an entry-level after they have finished year 10 at a minimum. Alternatively, you can continue your studies to complete the senior secondary school years 11 and 12. Institutions of higher education recognise these certifications.

2. Complete an apprenticeship

Once you have finished school, you can then apply for apprenticeship positions. As an apprentice, you can gain valuable hands-on experience learning the trade. You can use the opportunity to develop your skills alongside a qualified construction worker. If the site manager is pleased with your work, they may offer you a more permanent position at the end of your placement.

Related: Top 10 Certificates in Construction (With FAQs)

3. Earn VET certification

Working towards a Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification can significantly increase your professional profile, particularly when seeking entry-level positions. As you train for the certification, you can develop knowledge of the construction industry and strengthen your occupational skills. You may also have the opportunity to build the foundations of your technical skills by undertaking supervised practical activities in a specialised work area.

Related: Vocational Training: Definition and Different Types

4. Purchase your own protective equipment

Although many employers provide suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) or offer reimbursements, supplying your own equipment is deemed professional. In preparation for your career in construction, you may purchase a hard had and protective glasses. You may also choose to buy a pair of protective boots. The employer will likely provide technical equipment.

5. Tailor your resume

When applying for roles, you can constantly update your resume starting with your most recent education, certifications and work experience. Pluck keywords from the job description and incorporate them in your personal statement or skill set to show you align with the job requirements. Ensure the information is relevant to construction work.

Related: How to Write a Construction Worker Resume Objective

6. Apply for jobs as a construction worker

Since most employers' post job vacancies online, you can check out platforms such as job boards, company pages and social media sites. When applying through the internet, consider sending/attaching your resume as a PDF file to ensure the format stays intact. Reach out to your educators or contacts from the construction industry to enquire about potential job availability.

Related: 32 Construction Worker Interview Questions (With Answers)

What does a construction worker do?

Construction workers primarily handle tasks that revolve around professional manual labour. Their duties ultimately work towards constructing, renovating, or demolishing a building, depending on the client's instructions. A construction worker can use technical skills to determine accurate measurements to structure necessary rooms and spaces. Additional duties construction workers often perform include:

  • Preparing specialist equipment and operating large machinery to take apart a structure or assist with construction tasks.

  • Assessing risk and overseeing testing procedures to assure the safety of all equipment on site.

  • Loading and transporting necessary supplies and resources from local traders to the building site.

  • Measuring and cutting core materials such as timber, plaster, metals with precision.

  • Utilising hand tools such as saws, hammers, drills, screwdrivers and blow torches safely.

  • Learning specialised trades including electric work, carpentry stone masonry or plumbing while on the job.

  • Working with team members to carry out tasks such as heavy lifting, installation and cementing.

  • Following safety procedures across the site to maintain the productivity of the project and team.

Related: How To Become a Stone Mason in 4 Steps

Construction worker requirements

Formal qualifications are not usually a necessity to start a career as a construction worker. Most employers are keen to employ candidates who have obtained sufficient on the job experience. However, team leaders or managers often oversee the training of an apprentice or those relatively new to the profession.

Aside from general handiness skills, you can maintain high levels of physical fitness to complete practical tasks over a long duration successfully. At times, construction workers work at rooftop levels or higher. Therefore, you may work at potentially great heights.

What education do you need to become a construction worker?

Year 10 certification is the minimum requirement requested by most employers. However, if you'd like to increase your employability, you can obtain a year 12 certification. Some secondary schools offer construction courses for a small additional fee. However, if your school does not offer this course, an educational qualification in advanced mathematics will suffice.

Candidates who have set career aspirations to achieve a managerial role in construction work may become a Bachelor of Project Management or Construction Management. You can also study in similar fields such as applied science or quantity surveying. Many of these courses often entail a work placement, introducing you to practical construction work.

What qualifications do you need to become a construction worker?

Many hiring managers seek candidates with a VET qualification in construction. Each course delivers essential industry knowledge and offer training in a specialised area which is attractive to employers. During the course, you may gain professional insights into quality assurance, safety protocols and training policies.

To become a construction worker, you can also obtain a TAFE certification. During the course, you can cultivate the necessary skills, manage building projects, partake in contract management, understand quality control and communicate with clients. You can also learn a specific trade, providing you with the fundamental certification to start your own construction business. Here are examples of TAFE certifications you could obtain:

  • Certificate III in Bricklaying

  • Certificate I-II in Construction

  • Certificate III in Construction Crane Operations

  • Diploma of Building and Construction

  • Certificate III in Formwork/Falsework

  • Certificate III in Rigging

What skills do construction workers need?

A construction worker needs a combination of technical skill and physical endurance. We have listed some essential skills a construction worker requires:

  • Mathematics: crucial elements of the job such as accurate measurements and project costs heavily rely on a construction worker's mathematical ability.

  • Resilience and stamina: a construction worker spends most of their working day outside. At times, you may need to work through challenging conditions such as freezing temperatures. You may also complete heavily lifting tasks and remain focussed when precision is vital.

  • Communication: construction workers often work in a team to complete a project. While on-site, construction workers maintain strong levels of communication, essentially when a member is undertaking a task that poses a threat to health or injury to others. These professionals can also liaise with client's or site managers to communicate which equipment they require, budget costs and deadlines.

  • Self motivation: unlike office-based jobs, trained construction workers complete their duties without the supervision of a manager. This means they have a thorough understanding of their responsibilities and have the drive to work without constant direction.

  • Problem solving: in any profession, technical mishaps are inevitable. It is down to the construction manager to provide resolutions efficiently.

  • Time management: construction workers meet frequent deadlines to ensure they complete projects promptly. They can ensure that they work to realistic timelines methodically. Time management also allows construction managers to utilise their resources and client's time best.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

How many years does it take to become a construction worker?

The fastest way to become a construction worker is by starting an apprenticeship or traineeship following the completion of year 10. The duration of an apprenticeship depends on the company you have joined. However, the average paid construction apprenticeship lasts around 4 years.

If you decide to take the university route, a bachelor's degree typically lasts 3-4 years. You can extend your studies by around two years to achieve a master's degree in construction or a similar field.

Related: How To Create a Career Plan

Do construction workers get paid well?

Trained construction workers earn a national average base salary of $69,959 per year. This figure varies depending on the state your job is based in and your level of experience. Sydney NSW is currently the highest paying state where construction workers earn an average of $120,895.

Related: Top 25 Highest Paid Jobs

The companies mentioned in this article are not affiliated with Indeed in any way.


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