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Construction Operative Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Construction Operative. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Construction Operative
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Construction Operative Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Construction operatives, also known as building operatives, groundworkers or labourers, work on the construction of houses, factories, offices, roads, bridges, airports and many other structures. They prepare the ground for building, marking out and digging shallow holes and trenches for foundations and drains, erecting hoardings, safety signs, barriers and site huts. They also set up and dismantle ladders and scaffolding, prepare building materials such as cement and plaster, transport, stack and remove materials, and lay drains, pipes, manhole covers and inspection chambers.

Common tasks include:

  • formworking - erecting and dismantling temporary wooden or metal structures used in moulding liquid concrete
  • steel fixing and bar-bending - bending and fixing bars used to reinforce concrete structures
  • concreting - layering and smoothing concrete for foundations, floors and beams
  • steel piling - moving, inserting and removing interlocking steel sheets which form temporary retaining walls for excavation work
  • drain laying - guiding large sections of pipe into place as they are lowered by crane
  • roadworks - concreting, laying kerbs, paving and surfacing.
  • Operatives use a variety of hand and power tools including mechanical mixers. They may also use plant equipment, particularly for the movement of loads. Some construction operatives work closely with other tradespeople, such as bricklayers, as part of a team or ''gang''.

Hours and Environment

Construction operatives work a basic 39-hour week, often starting early in the morning. Overtime at weekends and evenings is required when deadlines need to be met. Seasonal work is quite common and working away from home for short and long periods may be necessary.

Construction operatives work inside and outside in all weathers and often at heights. Protective clothing such as safety helmets, ear defenders, goggles and boots are worn for most jobs. The work is physically demanding, and involves using a range of tools and carrying heavy or awkward materials.

Skills and Interests

To be a construction operative you should:

  • be physically fit
  • be familiar with construction or civil engineering terms, methods and materials
  • have good practical ability
  • be able to follow written and verbal instructions
  • be comfortable working at heights
  • be able to work as part of a team
  • have an awareness of health and safety issues.


There are no set entry requirements, but you usually need a good basic education. GCSE/S grades in maths, English and design and technology or equivalent vocational qualifications such as a Foundation/Intermediate GNVQ/GSVQs in Construction and the Built Environment may be helpful.

Other entry-level awards include City & Guilds Basic Construction Skills (6051), BTEC First Diploma in Construction and Construction Industry Training Board Foundation Award (Construction Crafts).

If working with plant machinery, you will need to be 18 or over and a driving licence may be required.

To gain entry to an apprenticeship or training scheme, you may have to pass a selection test.


Training is normally provided on the job with day or block release at local colleges or training providers leading to NVQ/SVQ qualifications. You work towards NVQs/SVQs in Construction and Civil Engineering Services (Construction Operations) levels 1 and 2.

Options include:

Concreting operations
Drainage construction
Laying kerbs and channels
Excavation of holes and trenches
Reinstatement of excavated surfaces and pavements.
A three-year Construction Apprenticeship Scheme (CAS) is open to people aged between 16-25. You are registered by an employer and earn a wage while following a structured training programme.
New Deal schemes may be available for people who have been unemployed for six months or more. These provide an allowance and training and can lead to a job and further training through the CITB, a company or private training provider. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus for details.

Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) may be available for people aged 16-24.
For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).


Construction operatives work for building or engineering contractors, local authorities and other public organisations. Contractors tend to use temporary staff or self-employed operatives rather than offer permanent jobs. There are opportunities overseas in contract work.

It is possible for operatives to progress to technician level or to become supervisors, and to move into specialised areas of work.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only. The Building and Allied Trades Joint Industrial Council (BATJIC) agrees minimum wage rates annually.

Trainee operatives earn up to £12,500 a year.
With qualifications, operatives earn around £16,500.
Experienced construction operatives with additional responsibilities may earn up to £20,000 a year.

Overtime and various allowances can significantly increase income. Those self-employed negotiate their own rates.

Further information

CITB-Construction Skills
Bircham Newton
King''s Lynn
PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577

Other Useful Construction Operative Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Construction Operative job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Construction Operative Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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