Do you need a degree to start a construction company?

By Khalid Noor, 2020.


Construction contractors or construction managers who run construction projects similarly to one who would start their own construction business and may want to run projects themselves tend to have degrees such as a bachelor’s degree. This article however, will discuss if a degree is actually a requirement to start a construction company.


To provide some context, if one is looking to be hired as a contractor or construction manager then more education in their respective field is more attractive to employers for various reasons. It is going to put you far ahead of other candidates without the experience and education background. 


That being said, you do not need a degree. On the other hand, while you don’t exactly need to complete a certificate either, completing some forms of certificate are extremely beneficial and it can be argued that without them it will be extremely difficult to learn a trade. Certificate III coupled with an apprenticeship goes a long way and gives you a proper foundation to launch off of.


Many contractors have gone this route. Without even a certificate, competition can be quite difficult when going up against others who have completed relevant certifications. It is increasingly more common that for a contractor it shows competence and illustrates the required training is already there for what is required in the field.


Before becoming a construction manager or starting your own business many individuals often attain skills through hands-on training working on construction sites, starting off working as labourers as well as apprentices and through internships that provide them advantageous training whether it be in plumbing, carpentry or any other field or trade. 


So while you don’t need a degree it is highly recommended you get certified in something and gain some valuable experience. Unlike other industries the possibilities are endless in construction especially when it comes to certification there is so much to choose from.


The most useful way of enhancing your skills within the construction industry is completing the certifications in an upward trajectory from a certain point. As you go further up, the difficulty rises and so do your skills and competency and grasp on the construction industry.


The Qualifications Framework (AQF), which is the national policy for regulated qualifications in Australia. has a total of 10 levels, beginning at Certificate I and ending at the Doctoral Degree level. While you certainly don’t need to proceed all the way up to the doctorate level as we have established the degree is not mandatory, there are a few previous levels in the certificate range that will greatly aid you in your endeavours in the construction industry as a solid foundation is imperative and extremely difficult to gain on all on your own.


The level you currently preside at on the AQF will determine how you progress in learning. Here is an outline of some of the prominent levels where most students of building and construction find themselves at: Certificate II, Certificate III, Certificate IV, and Diploma. 



Certificate II


Certificate II is the second level in the AQF. This is typically the first stage where you would be able to enter a trade in the construction industry with the exception of plumbing. At this stage you will also likely begin an apprenticeship based on your course, with courses ranging from bricklaying to carpentry and a host of others. The length of the course here is roughly 6 to 12 months. 



Certificate III


Next, you land at Certificate III. It can be quite difficult  to learn a trade without Certificate III and an apprenticeship, it is recommended to complete this level before going off starting your own construction company as you now have some solid foundations to work with. It is also quite difficult to compete with those withCertificate III and above without one. This certificate level stresses the core competencies covered in the previous level of Certificate II. These competencies are completed with the introduction of more theoretical concepts. You will be provided with the competency to confidently go out and join the workforce at this stage. That being said, there’s no reason to stop here.


At this stage it is stressed to continue your education further and there is an emphasis on this. The timeframe for completion at this level is longer and can take up to 2 years and even up to 4 if an apprenticeship is included. This level also has a focus on specialisation.


Certificate IV


The level of Certificate IV is a level where many who are inexperienced in construction will enter. Why is this? Simply put, Certificate IV is a level that enables one to acquire the necessary skills and qualifications without having to go through the rigorous steps of Certificate I followed by Certificate II and Certificate III, hence it is an alternative starting point for some.


To expand on this, this Certificate has a wide array of areas of specialisation to pick from, so the breadth of this certificate is quite large. At the same time, it is not so complicated that previous experience is required, however it is the case that the course can be quite demanding in order to get you up to par.


Commonly undertaken is the Certificate IV in Building and Construction, where you gain knowledge and competencies in planning projects, applying codes and regulations, and managing resources effectively. It also seeks to increase your knowledge in building and construction to a greater level. For beginners in building and construction, this is the perfect starting point to build skills and experience.


Certainly for someone looking to start a construction company this is an excellent way to gain some knowledge and experience that greatly sets you up for success in your construction journey.





The last level to be looked at is that of the Diploma which represents another increase in difficulty as  beyond this level is specialisation at the university level. Everything at this level is much more intense, for instance there is the aforementioned and the commonly completed Certificate IV in Building and Construction and then there is the Diploma of Building and Construction. 


The Diploma of Building and Construction follows on from the Certificate IV in Building and Construction. You will have through the diploma learnt how to apply building codes and regulations, prepare contracts and permits, and effectively manage construction projects, however due to the significant advance in difficulty it is aimed at 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. 


Completing the diploma is highly advantageous however, it takes your skills to a whole new level and it will undoubtedly set you apart from the rest. 


You might not require a degree but you will certainly need a license of some sort at some point. To elaborate on this, certain jobs that are greater than $10,000 such as home building will require you to obtain a domestic builder license and you will be required to be registered with the Victorian Building Authority. The application process for the license can be extremely difficult for someone with no knowledge however completing a Certificate IV can greatly help you in the process, especially as Certificate IV does not need any previous experience to start and complete it hence it is the perfect start for someone wanting to start their own construction company.


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