The construction industry is a sweeping industry with a large array of roles being sought after. As it is so large, the roles are also diverse in range. A plumber and a carpenter will have quite dissimilar skills that they will utilise in their respective goals in a construction project and these comparisons can be drawn across the construction field with numerous other existing roles.
How one may begin their journey may differ depending on the individual themselves. Some might decide upon working from the very bottom, harvesting knowledge sequentially in order to reach a point whereby they are proficient in a particular area of building and construction or have generalised expertise. Others would look at starting from a point where it is easier to progress and expand on areas of study, at the same experiencing a difficult entry in relation to understanding the inner workings of construction.
The latter is usually the more preferred option, particularly for those who are not school leavers. There are construction courses which are designed to give you an advanced learning experience in building and construction while also being accommodating for the varying different levels of experience. At this point it becomes a question of which course to pursue or where should one start? This blog aims to detail the different pathways into construction and highlight the most preferred option.
Before talking about courses, one may wonder about the ability to be completely self taught in building and construction and whether that is a valid path to tread. As there may be different ways of entering the construction industry with gaining certifications and working in accompanying apprenticeships, this question does arise.
There are different opinions one may come across regarding the viability of being self taught in the construction industry with some answers being vague for instance that one should go to construction sites and ask around or some answers being to remodel a home on your own as it is a fantastic way to accumulate experience. These are some common examples of advice given.
The first example given is quite vague, as that general method of ‘asking around’ is not elaborated on, however the second example of advice given relating to remodelling a home has merit. Unfortunately, both pieces of advice have blatant issues.
The first being a vague statement of ‘asking around’ on a construction site, has a lot of unknowns surrounding that action. What are the logistics of gaining access to a construction site? What if there are no visible construction sites in your area? What are the odds of there being someone willing to take you under their wing and start showing you the ropes and taking time out of their day to give you attention when you have no knowledge or available skills on hand at the moment.
While the second piece of advice of remodelling a home can be a good suggestion in gaining experience, you also start to run into glaring issues. Not everyone has a home available to remodel at a moment’s notice, people want to learn quickly and can’t wait for a random house to remodel conveniently. There isn’t also an endless supply of homes. If you seriously want to enter the construction industry you will need something much more structured.
This brings us into the realm of construction certificates and courses. Let us highlight the difference between self learning and simply taking on certifications and apprenticeships through the example of carpentry. Can it be self taught? Yes you can learn carpentry at a basic level, but the question is, will you be hired? Without a Certificate III and a 3 year apprenticeship you will not be hired as a professional carpenter because you are simply not qualified.
This brings us to certificates and which certificate you should study to enter into the construction industry. We have already mentioned Certificate III, in fact there are different levels of certificates. It is important to note that Australia follows the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF), which details the standards for qualifications in Australia. 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. It is also important to note each course within a certain level will be composed of units of competency. These 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 different levels of Certification range from Certificate I to Certificate III with Certificate I being an entry point in the construction industry. Then there is Certificate IV which does not continue from Certificate III but is an alternate entry point into the construction industry and progresses to the Diploma which is the natural continuation from Certificate IV. This article will focus mainly on Certificate IV as the preferred course to study to enter into the construction industry.
As aforementioned there is Certificate I as the first level in the AQF. It is an entry point into the construction industry for beginners. At this level you will learn about different concepts at their most basic level while being made aware of learning objectives to give yourself a grasp on the area of work. There will be core competencies brought forward that will be sharpened in the higher levels of Certificate II and Certificate III which will aim to take things to the next level. An example of a common course taken at this level is the Certificate I in construction which is an appropriate place to start for most as it is the most generalised course. This course is aimed at early school leavers wishing to enter the construction industry at an early age. The Certificate runs from 6 to 12 months with successive levels in the AQF likely running longer.
The Certificate IV is a common entry point into the construction industry and is possibly the best choice for a beginner in the construction industry to delve into the industry. Unlike Certificate I, you will not have to go through three different certificates to demonstrate competency. The beauty of the Certificate IV is that for most looking to get started in the construction industry you will still gain the necessary qualifications without going through three whole certifications. The only requirement is a construction induction card (white card) which permits you to enter construction sites. Certificate IV is a wide-reaching qualification level in that you can choose from lots of different areas of specialisation, or just look from a broad perspective. Content taught is more demanding than previous levels, however what you study isn’t so complex that previous experience is required. A course of frequent completion is the Certificate IV in Building and Construction. In this course, you learn about many areas of construction such as developing skills in planning projects, applying codes and regulations, and managing resources effectively. It also seeks to strengthen your knowledge in building and construction to a high level, which can significantly aid you in seeking opportunities in the job market. As it is a wide-reaching and useful level of the AQF, roles that are typically available to apply for include contract administrators, estimators, site supervisors etc., all of which are challenging in their own way.
Following on from the Certificate IV as the perfect entry point one may choose to undergo the natural progression towards the Diploma of Building and Construction which now will provide a step up and difficulty from the Certificate IV. As this rise in difficulty makes the Diploma a course that is advanced in nature, it will be targeted towards tradespeople and other employed individuals within the construction industry looking to advance their skills beyond their current capabilities in management and development in residential/low-rise construction.
Parker Brent is an accredited provider of building and construction courses, specializing in the Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) and the Diploma of Building and Construction (Building). If you are interested, enquire here today.