8 popular construction trades (with salaries and duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 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.

Construction trades offer a varied selection of careers within manual labour. For those who find stagnant office work unfulfilling, working in construction may be an ideal choice of career. Before selecting your chosen field, it's important to be aware of the different trades within construction on offer so you can make a choice that's fulfilling for you. In this article, we explain what defines a construction trade, the benefits of the work and different trades with average salaries and common duties.

What are construction trades?

Construction trades are some of the oldest and most respected jobs. Focusing heavily on manual labour, construction employees can place themselves in various roles that help build or maintain building structures and interiors. This can include work with electrical equipment, creating installations and managing work sites. Within many trades, you can work for yourself and be self-employed. This allows you to choose your own work schedule and work on terms that are agreeable to you. You're then able to lend out your services to private clients or as part of a team of employees on housing developments.

Some construction employees choose to work as a franchise as part of a larger group of other tradespeople. While working in construction you may tend to residential needs or be part of large commercial development projects. For example, building an extension on someone's house or contributing to a new-build housing development. Both types of employment mean you have a varied and diverse range of tasks and responsibilities.

Related: What is project management for construction? (Plus types)

Popular construction trades

Here are some of the most popular trades to consider, plus information on their primary duties and average salary:

1. General labourer

National average salary: £21,883 per year

Primary duties: A general labourer is a tradesperson who completes manual work in the production of buildings and property development. General labourer work includes laying bricks, operating machinery, window fitting and clearing work sites. They also order work and building materials and strictly follow health and safety regulations. Labourers work long days and are always kept active.

2. Building inspector

National average salary: £28,820 per year

Primary duties: A building site inspector ensures all operations and practices on a building site are consistent with rules and regulations. They carry out visits and inspections of building and development sites to assess their overall safety and functionality. Building inspectors have extensive knowledge of construction health and safety and the ability to keep up to date with changing codes of conduct. Building site inspectors also offer solutions and guidance to make a construction site a safer environment.

3. Plumber

National average salary: £30,393 per year

Primary duties: Plumbers are tradespeople who work to maintain and instal plumbing, water, heat and drainage systems in buildings or residential homes. Plumbers constantly work to assess water damage, make repairs to plumbing systems and instal bathroom facilities. A plumber has extensive knowledge of tools and basic maths for carrying out measurements. Plumbers also repair central heating systems, cut shapes and pipes and deal with drain and boiler issues.

Related: 10 high paid construction jobs and their responsibilities

4. Brick mason

National average salary: £31,389 per year

Primary duties: The brick mason, or bricklayer trade, revolves around work on construction sites or home improvements in residential housing. Mainly they lay bricks to build new foundations. Bricklayers also work to create new walls and chimneys for houses. They also attend to building repairs and improvements, like house extensions. Bricklayers have an eye for detail to lay bricks correctly so they can safely support a roof or foundation. Within their daily tasks, brick masons lay bricks, shape bricks with power tools and use measurements like spirit levels to lay bricks evenly.

5. Electrician

National average salary: £33,942 per year

Primary duties: Electricians work in the trade to instal, repair and assess electrical fixtures and equipment. An electrician works with wires, circuits and various machinery to test their effectiveness and make sure they're safe to use. They have knowledge of electronics and power tools and follow health and safety rules throughout their work. An electrician assesses electrical problems residentially or as part of a team on a construction site. An electrician also assists with fitting sockets and lighting fixtures.

Related: What is construction project management? Tools and stages

6. Scaffold builder

National average salary: £35,102 per year

Primary duties: Scaffold builders are tradespeople who work to erect pieces of scaffolding around buildings for other builders to work from. This role requires huge amounts of physical strength to constantly move and lift heavy pieces of metal scaffolding and equipment. They also have an eye for detail and knowledge of safe construction to ensure they build all fixtures properly, without danger to other employees. Scaffold builders also deliver and drop off pieces of scaffolding at different locations, instal guard rails and place planks of wood for secure walking around the scaffolding.

7. Site manager

National average salary: £42,039 per year

Primary duties: Site managers are responsible for running the staff on a construction site. They take charge to head up the planning and operations of a development and ensure a construction project runs smoothly and keeps within production deadlines. Site managers also are responsible for maintaining a level of safety on the site for all tradespeople. A site manager also has good communication and interpersonal skills.

8. Carpenter

National average salary: £42,528 per year

Primary duties: Carpenters focus on the building and construction of wooden structures and home fittings. Carpenters need knowledge of construction practices and quick maths skills for structure measurements and fittings. Carpenters regularly use a range of tools and machinery to build their wooden fixtures. For example, hammers for implementing nails. Carpenters work as part of a larger team on construction sites. They create wooden features for new homes. This role also helps with residential decors, like putting up shelves and placing floorboards.

Related: How much does a bricklayer apprentice make? (with FAQs)

Benefits of pursuing a trade within construction

Here are some of the main benefits of pursuing a trade within the construction sector:

Good pay

One of the main advantages for people to work in the construction trade is the high rate of pay than other career paths. Due to the amount of labour these roles typically require and the long days and hours, many construction careers compensate well. It also serves as steady work, with holiday pay when employed. If you work in a trade self-employed, there's no limit to the amount of money you can make from your trade.

Physical fitness

No matter which construction trade you work in, there's a focus on manual labour. For example, heavy lifting and keeping on your feet for long hours. Though it can be tiring work, roles in construction help to keep you physically and mentally strong. You simply can't maintain this amount of regular exercise from an office job.

Related: A guide to earning a construction management degree

Low requirements

Unlike many career paths, these trades require relatively little formal education or qualification. GSCEs at a minimum are advantageous, but as long as you can show you're fit and strong enough to work, you can apply for many manual labour roles. Some more specialised trades like electricians require qualifications or study through something like an apprenticeship.

Teamwork

One of the great parts about working in a construction trade is the ability to work as part of a team. You also get the chance to integrate with a variety of construction employees on larger projects, like housing developments. Working as a team helps to boost a construction employee's motivation and morale and form a positive and collaborative atmosphere.

Related: 10 high paid construction jobs and their responsibilities

Location diversity

Those working in these trades typically work in a variety of locations and have no fixed location, unlike you would working in an office. You're likely to be working on projects that are at different locations. Once a construction project is complete, you move on to the next elsewhere. This variety of work environments means you don't feel stagnant or confined within your role or trade.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

Related:

  • How To Write A Plumber CV (with Tips, Templates and Examples)

  • How to become a boiler engineer in 5 steps (plus key skills)


Explore more articles