Can building and construction be self taught? What are the best ways to learn building and construction?

By Khalid Noor, 2020.


When it comes to construction, wondering if it can be self taught is a question that may arise from time to time when considering building and construction as a pathway. There are many things you might hear scouring the internet and other people’s opinions such as going to a construction site and asking around, or remodelling a home for instance, which are touted as ways to begin your learning. 


However, it begs the question, what are the logistics of getting onto a construction site? And if you did, what are the odds someone will want to take you under their wing after pestering them with no experience. In terms of remodelling not everyone is in a position to remodel a home.


So what are the best ways to learn construction? Some form of education to ease your way into the construction industry, picking up trade and engaging in an apprenticeship is the best way to get into construction and this article will aim to highlight that.


The building and construction industry is one that possesses a significant range of expertise and job roles of which many seek to attain. Unlike many other industries, the possibilities are endless. From carpentry to bricklaying, all the way to more advanced roles such as a professional builder or project manager, look no further than construction to expand your horizons. 


If we select one of those aforementioned trades, such as carpentry for example, and apply the question of ‘can it be self taught?’, we find out that at a basic level yes, you can learn carpentry, but without learning it through a Certificate III and 3 year apprenticeship, it will be impossible to be hired as a professional carpenter as you are not fully qualified. Thus it can be seen, going the self taught route is not recommended and can be a limiting factor and how far you progress in your construction journey.


The process of undertaking courses in construction is a way of continuously increasing one’s skills and experience within the construction industry. Those skill sets acquired can be quite diverse depending on the avenue taken, hence the journey of gaining knowledge in construction will vary from person to person.


A point of contention among aspiring entrants into the industry is how to better themselves in their discipline. It can be unnerving at times to finish up to a certain point (whether that be in completing courses or gaining hands-on experience) and feel unsure of how to progress further. This article aims to provide helpful advice on the best way to learn building and construction and how to navigate it and consequently progress to a career in construction.


There are several levels in the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which details the standards for qualifications in Australia. They include levels such as Certificate I to III and then outside of that Certificate IV and Diploma as well as undergraduate and graduate degrees at university. However, the focus will be on the certificates and diploma before the undergraduate level, with a specific focus on the Certificate IV and Diploma levels while briefly touching upon Certificate I to III.


By separating these levels, it becomes easier to analyse what is studied in construction as you can understand the quality of courses and how they progress through each difficulty level.


What must also be brought to light is that each course within a level is composed of units of competency. The competencies define workplace requirements or abilities which are required in order to perform tasks in the workplace within the confines of the singular course or multiple courses completed.


The first level to touch upon is the Certificate I. This is the very first level and is one of two common entry points in the AQF hierarchy for beginners. The other being at the Certificate IV level which will be discussed later. At level 1 you learn about concepts in the world of construction at a basic level. There will be core competencies at this level introduced which will be built upon and fine tuned in later levels. This level is generally aimed at school leavers looking to enter the construction industry at an early point and less so for those looking to gain basic knowledge in construction.


Following on is the Certificate II. This is the next stage after level 1 or Certificate I, and naturally there is a rise in difficulty as well. It is considered the first stage where you are able to enter trade in the construction industry, with an exception to plumbing. This level includes working in an apprenticeship with courses such as joinery, carpentry, bricklaying and others on offer. From here you can also branch out and specialise in a different area or stick to one.


Certificate III is the culmination of what you’ve been learning from Certificate I and II. Core competencies are completed now with the introduction of more theoretical concepts. At this stage you should be gaining the abilities and skills as well as confidence to aim to join the workforce and search for suitable jobs at your level of skill. Through the introduction of greater theoretical ideas, this level enables you to develop on the learning objectives taught at level 2, providing you with the abilities and competencies to seek to join the workforce and search for applicable and suitable jobs. There is also an emphasis at this level on continuing your education further than settling on employment straight away.


As aforementioned, there is also the Certificate IV which is also an alternate entry point into construction. As opposed to going through Certificate I to III, many individuals that are inexperienced in construction will enter at this level. The reason for this is simple, this course enables you to acquire the necessary skills and qualifications without having to go through Certificate I to III. This added flexibility is extremely appealing to potential students. The course is wide in its scope and as a qualification level offers a variety of different specialisations to choose from. 


The Certificate IV in comparison to the previously mentioned Certificate levels is more demanding in its content. On the other hand, what you actually study isn’t so difficult that it would require you to have previous experience, hence it is a great entry point into the construction industry. 


Commonly undertaken at this level is the Certificate IV in Building and Construction. In this course you gain knowledge in many areas of construction such as planning projects, applying codes and regulations and managing resources effectively. This is the perfect entry point for beginners as you will be trained to a degree that will make you quite knowledgeable in construction, and open the doors for further training in hands-on roles. 


The level of Diploma represents another increase in difficulty from the Certificate IV and is highly recommended to undertake after the completion of the Certificate IV, with the rise of difficulty to be expected (especially considering it can lead to further specialisation at university level). All aspects of courses at this level become more detailed and complex. For instance, a course at this level is the Diploma of Building and Construction, which follows up on the Certificate IV course mentioned in the previous level.


Upon completion of the course, you will have learnt how to apply building codes and regulations, prepare contracts and permits, and effectively manage construction projects. Because of the advance in difficulty, It targets tradespeople and other employed people in the construction industry who are looking to advance their skills in management and development of residential/low-rise construction. It is a huge plus for people currently at the Certificate IV level to progress to Diplomas to enhance their building and construction skills and experience. Becoming more advanced in your area of specialisation will significantly help you to showcase your rise in ability in order to apply for more roles of a demanding nature. 


Parker Brent is an accredited provider of building and construction courses, specialising in the Certificate IV and Diploma of Building and Construction, which are designed to give you the best head start in beginning your construction journey. For more details, enquire now.