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Demolition 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 Demolition Operative. This page details the following Information:-

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

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Demolition operatives, also known as demolition workers, demolish and (more commonly) dismantle buildings and structures varying from single storey blocks, tall chimneys and bridges to large industrial units such as decommissioned power stations. Demolition can de done in one of three ways: manually, using heavy plant machinery and by use of explosives. Often, a combination of all three are employed.

Demolition operatives work involves site preparation, stripping out floors, roofs and fittings and removing re-usable materials such as timber and bricks. Some metalwork can be recovered using industrial crane-mounted magnets, and concrete slabs may be put through a crusher to produce aggregate for roadworks. Operatives are also trained in the safe removal of hazardous material such as asbestos and lead.

As an operative, there are various levels of responsibility:

Demolition Operative 1 (labourers) are involved in erecting and dismantling screens, safety rails, dustsheets and fences around sites. They also prepare materials for re-use.

Demolition Operative 2 (Mattockman/woman) may strip out fittings, remove doors and windows, prepare and erect roof protection, demolish roof structures and carry out hand demolition.

Demolition Operative 3 (Topman/woman) carry out the above tasks and cut steel at heights, strip fragile roof coverings and instruct others in safe demolition practices.

A variety of hand and power tools are used to carry out jobs including pneumatic hammer drills and oxyacetylene cutting equipment. Operatives also employ plant machinery such as 360-degree excavators with demolition attachments.

Health and safety plays a major role in operatives work and strict regulations must be adhered to.

Hours and Environment

Demolition operatives work a basic 39-hour week, but weekend work and overtime are often required.

The work is conducted in dirty, dusty, noisy conditions, and in all weathers. Protective clothing is always worn, and in some cases breathing equipment might be required.

Periods away from home are common and, due to the amount of travelling, a driving licence is often useful.

Skills and Interests

To work as a demolition operative you should:

  • have a responsible attitude towards safe working practices
  • be physically fit and comfortable working at heights
  • have good manual skills for operating tools and equipment
  • be able to work as part of a team.


There are no formal qualifications required for this work. Some GCSEs (A-D)/S grades (1-4) can be useful, including maths, English, science subjects and design and technology. You need to be at least 18 years old. Under 18s wanting to get into demolition work, could train initially as construction plant operatives. See Construction Plant Operator.

A background in more general construction as a labourer or tradesperson, may be helpful in gaining an initial position with a company, although this is not essential.


Training is provided on the job. You can work towards NVQ/SVQ in Demolition (Construction) levels 2 and 3. Units include the preparation and clearance of work areas, demolition/dismantling of concrete, timber, steel and brick structures, demolition/dismantling of fragile roofs and cladding and the safe movement and signalling of loads.

Employers also provide induction and safety training covering areas such as control of asbestos and lead, accident prevention and control, electricity on sites, fire prevention and control, and law relating to demolition work.

Further short courses may be provided in oxygen and fuel gas cutting and the fitting of abrasive wheels. You may also undertake emergency first aid training.

The Certificate of Competence of Demolition Operatives (CCDO), which is affiliated to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), will be required to work on the majority of sites. There are seven levels of entry dependent upon experience:

Demolition Site Operative (Green Card)- temporary or inexperienced worker
Demolition Operative 1 labourer (Red Card) - minimum one years experience
Experienced worker (Blue Card) - minimum two years experience but no previous card
Demolition Operative 2 Mattockman/woman (Blue Card) - two years'' or more and hold NVQ/SVQ Level 2
Demolition Operative 3 Topman/woman (Gold Card) - three years'' or more and hold NVQ/SVQ Level 3
Demolition Chargehand (Gold Card) - must hold a Topman/woman card and undergo two-day Chargehand training
Demolition Supervisor (Gold Card) - again you must hold a Topman/woman card and complete a 12-week distance learning programme.
For details about the card scheme and training courses, contact the National Federation of Demolition Contractors or CITB-Construction Skills below.
Construction plant operative 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).


Specialist firms of demolition contractors are the main employers, with a few demolition operatives working for general building and civil engineering companies. Experienced demolition operatives can progress to supervisory and management positions.

Annual Income

This section is intended as a guideline only. There are nationally recommended minimum rates of pay for demolition operatives.

General operatives can earn between £12,500 and £15,000 a year.
Fully qualified operatives can earn around £18,000 a year.
With experience and supervisory responsibilities, demolition operators can earn £20,000 upwards.

Demolition operatives may earn significantly more for specialist duties such as operating plant machinery or using explosives. Overtime and various allowances can also increase income.

Further information

National Federation of Demolition Contractors
Resurgam House
1A New Road
The Causeway
TW18 3DH
Tel: 01784 456799

Other Useful Demolition Operative Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Demolition 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 Demolition 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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