What are the different career options in the building and construction sector? Which should I opt for?

Discovering a career path is daunting. The path to finding what is best suited to your needs and interests reflects this, because it takes time and resources. Most people can attest to this. You could even say it is a gift and a curse at the same time. 


On one hand, there are a plethora of jobs that exist, and it would be implausible to suggest that you could learn about and be aware of each and every one of them. Such variability and choice has never been seen before in any previous time in our history. Not only that, but as a first world country, Australia and its citizens are subject to many privileges in the aspect of careers which a lot of other lower socio-economic countries do not possess. There are ample opportunities to begin schooling from different levels (e.g. primary, secondary, tertiary) all which give you the chance to develop your career in the way you see fit. 


On the other hand, because there is so much on offer, it is quite easy to become disoriented. You might begin to scratch your head wondering what you enjoy the most, and in the end make no decision, ultimately remaining in the same position you were in before. Many people who progress through the Australian educational system slowly become more confused rather than focused as to what the end goal of their careers will be. And it isn’t as if there is some sort of free trial. Time is finite, and if you spend enough time in one area whilst feeling unsatisfied, you may decide to stick it out instead of taking a leap of faith because of the energy required.


Construction is one of those areas that has so much to offer that actually making a decision to go down a route that will lead to a specific job takes much more time and thought. As an example, you could begin your construction journey looking to become an electrician, or, alternatively, a plumber. Both roles are quite popular, however differ significantly in practice. There are few, if any skills that can be transferred between both jobs. 


That is why in this blog we seek to illuminate the different career options in the building and construction sector, and what you should choose. We have highlighted some of the most common roles which should give you a general idea of what to expect, and hopefully provide a peace of mind so that determining and cultivating a career path is straightforward. 


different career options in the building and construction

Professional Builder


To start things off, we begin with the job of a Professional Builder. As the name might imply, it is generalised to some degree. Professional Builders design, organise, lead, control and coordinate the building and construction process of projects (which can vary in size, resources and scale), as well as the resources needed to complete it which includes labour, capital, materials etc. They also must be able to ensure compliance of occupational health and safety (OHS) from all individuals involved in a project. As you might infer, Professional Builders have quite a bit of responsibility on their shoulders. Not only do they need to ensure workers are accounted for, but they must keep a birds eye view on all facets of the construction process from beginning to end. Some other tasks of Professional Builders include:


  • Interpreting architectural drawings and specifications
  • Coordinating labour resources, procurement and delivery of materials, plant and equipment
  • Ensuring projects are completed on time and within budget
  • Operating and implementing coordinated work programs for sites
  • Ensuring adherence to building legislation and standards of performance, quality, cost and safety.


As expected, there is strong demand for this role within the industry. It is generally suited to those with a knack for leadership and management, as well as extensive experience in building and construction. 



Plumber (General)


The job of a plumber is more specialised when compared to a professional builder. A plumber’s responsibility is to install and repair water, drainage, gas and sewerage pipes and systems. Some more expanded roles include:


  • Studying blueprints, drawings and specifications to determine the layout of plumbing systems and materials required.
  • Installing hot and cold water systems and associated equipment.
  • Installing water-based fire protection systems, including fire hydrants, hose reels and sprinkler systems.
  • Designing and installing sanitary plumbing and water supply systems, discharge pipes and sanitary fixtures.
  • Fabricating and installing soil and waste stacks.


Plumbing has an added benefit of further specialisation. This is geared towards people with specific interests that cater to their personalities, which in turn would enhance enjoyment of the role as well as performance. For example, you could become a Water Plumber, or a Fire Services Plumber. 


Keep in mind, however, that plumbing is also a job that is high in demand, which is expected to remain constant for the foreseeable future. 


Carpentry and Joinery


Another job we can list that also has added popularity is the role of a Carpenter/Joiner. Technically speaking, carpentry and joinery are two different roles, however they are basically two peas in the same pod. Joinery involves constructing wood and similar materials in a workshop, whereas Carpentry involves building the materials together to form a structure. Combining the two roles together means the tasks involved consist of constructing and installing structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, and wallboard, and cuts, shapes and fits timber parts to form structures and fittings.


Some further tasks include:


  • Studying drawings and specifications
  • Determining materials required, dimensions and installation procedures
  • Ordering and selecting timbers and materials, and preparing layouts
  • Cutting materials, and assembling and nailing cut and shaped parts
  • Erecting framework and roof framing, laying sub-flooring and floorboards and verifying trueness of structures


What separates carpentry and joinery from the roles mentioned above is that there is a moderate amount of demand. So while it is a role that is common, the actual number of people seeking this role in the job market is at a standard level. Therefore, you may expect less pressure and competition when pursuing this job compared to the other two jobs mentioned above. 


What all these roles share as similarities is requirements. It goes without saying that there are numerous hurdles to pass to be eligible to apply for such jobs. Perhaps the most important is education. Obtaining the correct qualifications goes a long way to achieving your career goals. Australia follows the Australian Qualifications Framework, which specifies the standard for educational qualifications in Australia. 


The framework has 10 levels of competency, beginning at Certificate I and ending at the Doctorate level. Different courses exist at each level, and many act as stepping stones on each other as a way of building knowledge in a clear and concise manner. It is incumbent on you to understand which courses you need to do to be eligible for application for these roles and many others. 


For instance, to work in carpentry and joinery, one would need to have completed a course in an area that relates to it, such as a Certificate III in Carpentry and Joinery. Or for the job of a Professional Builder, you would need a Diploma of Building and Construction (Building).


Another component is a pre-apprenticeship, which is essentially on the job training designed to quickly enhance your skills in your chosen area of expertise. 


So which career option should you opt for? Well, it is entirely up to you. Make a contention to yourself to research every kind of role that may interest you, and from there learn about the pros and cons of each role which will ultimately help you to determine what career path is best for you in the building and construction sector.


Parker Brent is an accredited provider of courses in building and construction. We currently offer the Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) and the Diploma of Building and Construction (Building). Enquire for here for more details.