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There are many different roles in the world of construction, ranging from craft roles, technical roles, and managerial roles. Working in construction can be challenging at the best of times, and can prove to be one of the most strenuous sectors that someone can be employed in. It can also be one of the most rewarding sectors, both financially and emotionally.

This article aims to highlight the different roles within each sector and help you gain a better understanding of what is involved In construction, the positions that are held, and the basic workings of each sector.

While it may be easy to assume that construction workers and not very well educated, this could not be further from the truth. There is an element of education and vocational training that is required to become a construction worker, and many of those working in the field are highly qualified. The world would be a very different place without construction, We wouldn’t have the buildings and structures that we are so accustomed to nowadays and we would most likely not be as advanced as we are. Construction also provides employment to more than 2.1 million men and women across the UK and plays a pivotal role in helping boost the economy.

If someone says ‘tell me one position in construction’ the first thing that the majority of people will say springs to mind is ‘labourer.’Of course, a labourer does indeed work in construction and it can fall under any number of categories.  Just to give you a rough idea of how big the construction industry is, in 2015 here were just over 2.1 million jobs spread over both public and private sectors worth an estimated 103 billion pounds sterling input into the British economy. Of the 2.1 million positions held, women only make up 11% of the workforce with just 1% working on-site. Those working as bricklayers, roofers and within specialist crafts are so low in comparison to men that no actual figure can be obtained.

To begin with we’re going to start with craft roles and what They entail. Craft roles are predominantly male oriented and only 1% of the workforce is female. More is currently being done to encourage women to take up trade positions and encourage equality and equal opportunities throughout the entire construction industry.

Wood occupations

For centuries, wood has been utilised as one of the major building materials, both in Europe and across the globe. Its availability, ease of use and cheap cost makes it an ideal material in the world of construction.  The work sector dealing with wood is known as wood occupations and it is a trade that many young men and women begin to learn at college after finishing secondary school.

Wood remains as one of the key building materials in the construction world and It can be found in the key structures of buildings and is still often used in constructing houses, Apartments and office blocks.  Having a good hand to eye coordination is essential in wood occupations, as is an enjoyment of using the hands and many electrical tools throughout the day.

Bench Joiners are skilled in manufacturing wooden objects and are involved in the manufacturing and joining of wood.  As an example, some of the items built by bench joiners of Doors, that windows and frames, Staircases and fitted furniture.

Carpenters are probably the most recognized of all the wood occupations and craft, construct and put together the inner workings of many structures.  Carpenters are also the ones who enjoy the highest salaries of all the craft trades.

Exterior occupations

Exterior occupations cover the work performed by those who work as bricklayers, construction managers and those dealing with exterior parts of building work. Those working in the exterior occupations field provide the basic foundations of structures from the ground up. Bricklayers provide the walls and bases of properties and provide a strong foundation to build upon. Those working in exterior occupations must usually have a good understanding of mathematics, a keen eye for detail, an element of chemistry and a steady hand.  Mathematics is involved in working out sizing and placement, chemistry helps with the mixing of cement and mortar and involve precise quantities to be mixed up. To much cement vs water and you will have a brittle mix that won’t stand the test of time, too little cement vs water and you will have an unusable liquid cement that takes too long to cure.

Interior occupations

Interior occupations cover the work performed by those who work as painters, decorators and ceiling fixers. The work of these focuses mainly on the interior of buildings and structures and is what makes a shell of a building a fully functional and usable home, office or apartment complex. Interior decorators are those who paint the walls, ceilings and interior features of structures, taking bare walls and sealing them. Plasterers are also interior workers who turn bare brick walls into the smooth, clean walls we are accustomed to.

Specialist occupations

Specialist occupations cover the work performed by those who work as Thatchers, roofers and Scaffolders. These workers specialise in their field and provide the buildings with their roofs and enable other construction workers to safely scale structures during their work. Thatchers used to be common just a few centuries ago until the introduction of tiled roofs came into being.  That said, there is still demand for Thatchers, especially for maintaining the roofs of graded and listed buildings.

Plant occupations

Plant occupations cover the work performed by those who work h heavy machinery such as those who excavate building sites to lay foundations. When talking about plants, it directly refers to heavy machinery and equipment operated by certain qualified construction workers. Those who work in plant occupations will have to undertake training and testing before being given a plant card that enables them to work on sites using heavy machinery.

According to Warwick University  “Most people enter craft careers through apprenticeships; although other types of training schemes are available. A construction apprenticeship is usually a two-year programme to NVQ/SVQ level 2, then a further one-year advanced programme to achieve NVQ/SVQ level 3. Most craft occupations have an NVQ available at both levels 2 and 3. These qualifications are achieved by assessment on-site combined with some college-based training. ”

Those working in the craft field will normally require a good understanding and working knowledge of ventilation, windows and doors, insulation, solar panels, flat panels and vacuum insulation. Of course, much of this is learned via hands on experience and can be taken further with extra studies.

Pay within the field varies and ranges from £17,000 – £25,000 for a demolition operative and  £24,000 – £31,000 for a carpenter. These values can of course vary depending on where in the country you are located, the size and scale of the project and the experience and qualifications of the worker.

The next section is going to cover technical roles involved in construction work. Technical roles can range from assisting those in the craft trades to being involved with the planning, designing and detailing of building formation to completion.

Those working in technical roles work to support and assist those who work as engineers, architects, and surveyors. A technical position will not always require hands on, manual work. In 2014 there were an estimated 72,860 people qualified as technical construction support workers. To give a rough idea of the positions held within the technical support sector, those whose position is of Estimator, buyer, plant technician, roofing technician and site inspector all fall into this category.

To gain access to a technical support position, the worker can do so either via vocational training or through past work experience. The salaries of an average technical support worker are £27,000 – £37,000 for an architectural technician to £33,000 – £39,000 for an estimator.

As an example, a roofing technician: a roofing technician helps provide assistance to roofers by performing duties that require less skill. The duties involved range from holding materials and tools for cleaning the work area to be free of debris. While there is less hands on work involved, the position can actually pay more than those in craft positions.

Another great example is that of an architect. While many people assume an architect only deals with the design and planning side of buildings, they fail to see that an architect is also responsible for overseeing the project, ensuring the safety of both the workers and the public, and that their position is heavily involved from the moment of origination right through to the completion of the project. The architect is usually required to be on site throughout the entire project in case of requirements of adjustments to plans, the need to switch or change building materials, and to deal with the project managers queries and requests.

Professional & Managerial Roles.

The final section will cover professional and managerial roles. These are the upper end positions of the construction field and tend to require the most educational experience. Those involved within the Professional and managerial field will have involvement in all stages of construction from planning through to after construction maintenance of properties. For the majority of professional and managerial positions, the worker will need to hold a higher education qualification such as a bachelor's degree, PhD or an advanced apprenticeship with an HNC/HND.

Some of the more common positions held within the professional and managerial sector are senior executives, civil engineers, town planner, project manager and facilities manager. As the education and prior work experience required stands at a much more advanced level, this is normally reflected in the average annual salary. As an example, an employee working in building control can expect to earn from £33,000 – £37,000 while a  quantity surveyor can expect to take home between £41,000 – £49,000. The majority of females working in construction are found in the professional and managerial sector and tend to be highly qualified workers.

Those working in professional and managerial position are expected to have an excellent and broad working knowledge of many of the varying aspects involved throughout the different sectors of construction. The more experience and knowledge a person has, the higher the salary will be, regardless of sex. It is possible to work your way up to a managerial or professional position from being a craft trade worker and the hands on experience you gain over the years can help you aim for a position of higher standing.

Conclusion

Construction is one of the building blocks of every developed country in the world and provides the foundations for civilisations to grow and expand. While in the U.K construction is predominantly male orientated, Thailands construction field is dominated by females, especially those working in exterior craft, interior craft, and specialist craft roles.

One thing is for sure, construction is a vital employment sector that provides millions with gainful employment while providing the opportunity to progress higher up the career ladder. While it may be all too easy to take a construction for granted, there is a lot of time, effort and money involved in the industry that allows towns and cities to grow at an amazing rate. It is also easy to forget that construction has its roots pre-dating ancient Egypt starting with the most basic of shelters to the eye watering Goliath's that dominate our skylines today. History has taught man much about technique and has allowed us to hone a develop our skills into a fine art form.

Once the reserve of the rich, building and development is expanding across the globe at an alarming rate and is helping fuel the growth in both population and economy. It has allowed us to reclaim land that would have once been an impossibility to develop upon and boosted employment in areas where there was little to none available. A position within construction is not only a fulfilling one filled with opportunity, it can also be a well paid one that will allow you to live a more comfortable life.

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