How to get construction work experience in 5 ways (and tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Getting experience in construction can be beneficial to your career if you aspire to work in fields such as city planning, urban engineering or real estate development. There are various work opportunities available to you, which can equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary for further advancing your career in construction. Learning about what's possible can help you set more realistic goals for yourself. In this article, we discuss how to get construction work experience and explain why you may benefit from it.

Why you may want to get experience in construction

Learning how to get construction work experience is beneficial if you aspire to work in site management, quantity surveying or engineering, including civil and structural engineering. Contributing part-time to a job in construction can strengthen your existing skill set and improve how you work on interior design or architectural projects. The construction industry also allows you to develop many transferable abilities, which you can then use in other fields, like management. Since many types of jobs are available to aspiring construction professionals, pursuing this path can be ideal for career changes who want to explore new professional challenges.

Related: How to write a construction worker CV (with an example)

How to get construction work experience

To determine how you want to get work experience, it's helpful to determine where you are in your career and set measurable goals for yourself. Here are some ways in which you can improve your skills and get experience in construction:

1. Secure an entry-level position

The construction field offers various work opportunities to people with little or no professional experience, making securing an entry-level position one of the best methods for getting construction experience. If you're interested in entering the field this way, you may consider becoming a labourer or an assistant to an experienced engineer or designer. To qualify, it's often necessary to demonstrate that you can be physically active for long periods and have the ability to lift heavy objects. Basic understanding of workplace safety is desirable, but many employers offer on-the-job training that teaches you about that.

Related: How to become a construction labourer: a step-by-step guide

2. Become an intern

A construction internship can be a great option if you aspire to advance your career in the field further or when you're working towards a related university degree. As an intern, you'd have a chance to discover what it's like to work in construction. It's also an excellent opportunity to learn from an experienced professional, like a construction manager or engineer, who'd offer you their support and guidance. Some areas of construction in which you can intern include:

  • construction management

  • quantity and building surveying

  • cost management

  • facilities management

The main difference between an entry-level job and an internship in construction is that employers require less experience and knowledge from interns. It's also common for interns to earn less than entry-level professionals. This happens because many internships are part-time programmes or last for a few months, as opposed to entry-level roles, which are generally permanent.

Related: How to write a labourer CV (with tips)

3. Choose a degree with industry placement

If you're considering a degree in construction or engineering, you may have a chance to get construction work experience during your studies. To make that possible, you can choose a longer undergraduate course with an industry placement. Students who pursue this path often work full-time during their third year. Typically, an industry placement directly relates to the course you're completing. In some instances, it's also possible to pursue several placements during one year, which can help you explore more specialisations and decide which one is right for you.

Related: A guide to earning a construction management degree

4. Find a summer job

Although summer jobs tend to be the most popular among students, working in one can be a great solution even for those working full-time. Many construction areas are highly seasonal because they require construction professionals to spend most of their workdays outdoors. Getting construction experience during the summer months presents you with more options. This includes many construction gigs for freelancers and other part-time employment opportunities with different work schedules that can better align with your work situation.

Related: Q&A: what is seasonal work? (With advantages and tips)

5. Engage in a volunteering project

If your motivation for getting construction experience is to improve your skills and gain a new perspective on the industry, volunteering might be perfect for you. As a volunteer, you're likely to have a flexible schedule and contribute as much time as you want to the project. Depending on your situation and expectations, there are different types of volunteering. For example, you might help develop affordable housing locally as a member of an organisation that aims to end homelessness. It's also possible to volunteer abroad, where you'd help rebuild homes and schools for underprivileged communities.

Related: 12 social, professional and personal benefits of volunteering

Types of construction jobs

In addition to opportunities that help you understand construction, you can explore more specialised jobs that teach you about specific construction methods. Here are some types of construction jobs to consider if you plan to get additional experience in the field:

  • Carpentry: Getting work experience in carpentry can be ideal if you aspire to improve your work with wood or fibreglass. To qualify, it's helpful to know how to read blueprints and building plans, the ability to create simple design drawings is also desirable.

  • Construction labouring: As a construction labourer, you'd mostly perform manual and physical work that may require you to lift objects or clear spaces regularly. It's a great option for people who want to enter the construction field, as it gives them a general overview of the field.

  • Plumbing: Additional plumbing experience may be necessary for you if you specialise in construction for residential or commercial buildings. Working alongside experienced plumbers, you'd learn about plumbing systems, garbage disposals or sewage lines.

  • Glazing: Working in glazing requires precision and strong attention to detail and can be especially beneficial for you if you work in design, architecture or a related field. By getting hands-on experience in this specialisation, you can improve your technique when designing skylights, shopfronts or regular windows.

Related: 11 common construction job titles (and what they mean)

Tips for securing a job in construction

If you want to work in construction, there are several things you can do to demonstrate you're prepared for it and increase your chances of impressing recruiters. Here are some tips that can help with that:

Obtain professional health and safety certificates

Working as a member of a construction team requires you to follow industry and workplace safety regulations. Many employers offer construction professionals on-the-job health and safety training, but obtaining a certificate before applying can help you demonstrate you're qualified and prepared. It also shows that you know how to ensure you and others in the workplace are safe.

Related: What are common construction management risks (and how to avoid them)

Find opportunities within your network

Ambitious construction professionals are usually in demand, as there are always some renovation or building projects that clients want to commission. This means you may have a chance to secure a job in the field by contacting people within your network. It's usually a good idea to start this process by asking your friends and family about any work opportunities. Then, you can also consider connecting with construction managers on professional networking websites.

Related: 14 of the best networking strategies and where to use them

Prepare for a construction interview

If a recruiter thinks you're a good fit for a job in construction, they're likely to want to interview you. In addition to discussing your background and experience, it's helpful to know how to answer questions about construction materials and techniques you'd use in the role. This is especially important in more specialised jobs, such as when you want to work in quantity surveying or construction management.

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