It takes time and resources to navigate a career path, you spend time trying to understand the various pathways and what leads to what. You try to plan ahead and think about the most optimal pathos or even what you may want to specialise in the future. It can be worrying because one wrong perceived step can set you back. Suffice it to say finding the best career path best suited to your needs and interests is not an easy task.
It would be a stretch to say you could possibly know all the different jobs out there, so in that sense there is no point in stressing out at all, rather it is more prudent to gather the information you can and take the first step into the unknown. Of course, you want to take an educated step, not only on some of the potential possibilities but a step that is informed by your own needs and interests.
It wouldn’t be an understatement to say there never really hasn’t been a time where there has been this much variability and choice throughout history. It is important to note that Australia and its citizens are subject to many privileges in the aspect of careers which a lot of less privileged countries do not have access to. There are far more chances that exist here in Australia not only to do things over if you misstep, but to take your first steps at different ages so you can go about your career how you see fit.
There can also be a case to be made that there is simply too much choice and this abundance of choice can lead to a disorientating effect for the one that lacks clarity in choosing their own pathway. There exist many individuals who go through the Australian educational system and 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 an area that has abundance in its offerings that making a decision to go down a route that will lead to a specific job will take more time and consideration. 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.
This blog aims to demystify the different career pathways in the building and construction industry as well as potentially what pathway you should pick according to your needs.. 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.
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.
The next career path to look at is construction manager which can be similar in some aspects to the role of the builder, however there is an important distinction to make. Let us establish the difference in the roles with clarity so we can understand what it is a construction manager does.
Builders one one hand build homes and commercial/industrial structures and they also renovate, excavate and demolish structures. A Builders’ work can be quite physically demanding as builders may do some or even all the tasks all on their own.
Construction managers like builders lead the project, however construction managers mainly stick with overseeing/supervising the whole construction process or parts of it. Construction managers are more hands off in their role as they will delegate tasks to various individuals in different processes or stages of construction.
It is important to note that the path to become construction manager is usually obtained through a Certificate IV or Diploma in Building and Construction and even sometimes a bachelor degree. Due to this, their path is more to do with the theoreticals rather than the practicals of construction which would be obtained pursuing other pathways, so their role is not physical.
Employed builders tend to make less than construction managers, however if a builder does well they may move onto other roles such as construction management itself. However, if a builder is self-employed there is a potential to make even more money than if they were employed by a firm if their business was lucrative.
There are different figures regarding how much builders earn. Builders earn a fairly decent amount, with the average hourly pay being $36.45/hour which translates to $1458 per week for a 40 hour work week and roughly $75k a year as a salary.
Plumbing is a high demand job in Australia and this is expected to stay that way for the time being. The actual job of a plumber is going to be more specialised and specific than that of a builder as a plumber’s main focus lies in the installing and repairing of water, drainage, gas, sewerage and pipe systems. Expanding on this, the work plumbers conduct may 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.
Carpentry and Joinery
Another job that is fairly popular and hence is a must on this list is the role of a Carpenter/Joiner. In reality, carpentry and joinery are two different roles, however they essentially belong to the same family. Both Carpentry and Joinery combined lead to development of structures and fixtures of wood, plywood, and wallboard, and cuts, shapes and fits timber parts to form structures and fittings. Separating this, we see carpentry puts the materials together to form the structure whereas joinery is the construction of wood and other similar materials in a workshop.
Some further tasks that may be involved:
- 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
There is actually a fair amount of demand for those skills in carpentry and joinery in the industry, hence if aiming to go down this path you’ll be in luck as there are not above average levels of individuals aiming to enter this career path or trade in construction, while the demand is fairly high, so there is less pressure to compete.
A lot of these roles share similarities in their requirements. There are a fair few hurdles to pass through to gain access to these jobs, the most important being education. Within Australia there is the Australian Qualifications Framework, which specifies the standard for educational qualifications in Australia. The Australian Qualifications Framework exists as an assurance of quality and certification for those who undertake these jobs in the industry.
The Australian Qualifications Framework or AQF for short has 10 levels of competency within it. It starts Certificate I and ends all the way at the Doctorate level for those who may want to specialise to the highest level possible.
Each level has a variety of courses that exist within it, and hence there are different pathways to take in the industry depending on which course you take and what you want to specialise in. It is important that one knows the courses available to them so they may be able to better navigate their pathway through the industry.
A good example of this is 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. Some people mention learning on the job, however a lot of roles require certifications and then licences to operate, as without this there is no way to really maintain a standard in the industry of the quality of work that is expected. Hence in the example previously mentioned someone would complete the Certificate III in Carpentry and Joinery and would have simultaneously undertaken apprenticeships for hands-on training.
Construction managers on the other hand as aforementioned are hands off, so someone who has absolutely no experience and doesn’t even know their way in the industry would go ahead and start with the Certificate IV in Building and Construction. Doing this will give them various skills, a few examples of skills gained are:
- Managing occupational health and safety (OH&S)
- Applying building codes and standards to construction processes
- Conducting on-site supervision of projects
- Reading and interpreting plans and specifications
- Arranging for building applications and approvals
They may then move onto the Diploma in Building and Construction which is the next level up, and doing this will open more doors for them in terms of avenues to go in their career, as they can become more specialised in different areas of their choosing.
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. For more information about our offerings, enquire here today.