Building and construction

If you’re a practical person who’s interested in communities and the environment we live in – or you care about a more sustainable future – building and construction could be for you.

You don’t have to get your hands dirty if you want a career in building or construction, although you can if you want to. The construction sector is one of the largest in the UK economy and there are a huge number of roles you could go into – from building services engineer, surveyor or health and safety officer to plumber, electrician or stonemason. You could progress to becoming a project manager, director, or running your own business.

In the past year, almost 150,000 production manager and director roles were available in the UK. If you’re passionate about the environment, you could use your skills to push for a more sustainable industry too.

The impact you could make
  • Be involved in creating the sustainable cities, roads, and infrastructure of the future.
  • Plan or oversee the construction of new homes in urban areas, whether as a town planner, quantity surveyor or production manager.
  • Improve health and safety in buildings, through things like risk assessing a building or project and identifying potential fire risk hazards.
What you could study
  • Introduction to law and regulatory framework
  • Quantity surveying private and commercial practice
  • Building science and materials
  • Construction technology
  • Environmental science and services
  • Economics and management

Study options

Options to study in this field include:


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Example module
"The economic geography and planning module. The emphasis on cities is awesome, and I’ve loved learning about how our built environments shape us."
Second year land economy student, University of Cambridge
Example assignment
"Creating a bridge using software, then applying that in real life in the lab to make a similar bridge, watching it come to life, really was very satisfying."
Second year construction engineering management student, Aston University, Birmingham

Subjects it's useful to have studied first

Some building and construction courses or apprenticeships will have requirements for previous qualifications in certain subjects. Entry requirements vary, so always check with the provider.
Design technology
Hard skills you'll develop
  • Project management
  • Procurement
  • Construction
  • Agile methodology
  • Subcontracting
Soft skills you'll develop
  • Communications
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Operations
  • Problem-solving
78% of students
say they're likely to recommend this subject, based on the experience they've had so far of studying it
(UCAS architecture, building, and planning subject guide survey 2023)

Careers: Where it can take you

Find out more about your career prospects from studying building and construction. The following information is based on a typical construction project management role.
Average salary
Up to £66,874
Available jobs
73,237 vacancies in the past year
4.94% growth over next eight years

What is a… quantity surveyor?

You’ve probably heard of a quantity surveyor, but do you know what they actually do? Quantity surveyors work out how much a construction project will cost, prepare bills for the quantities of materials and other things that go into a big building project, and advise on contracts. They’ll also keep an eye on the budget for a project as it’s going along, and make sure there’s no major overspend. 

Getting in: Entry requirements

Find out more about what you'll need to study building and construction at university or as an apprenticeship.

Average requirements for undergraduate degrees

Entry requirements differ between university and course, but this should give you a guide to what is usually expected from environmental and earth science applicants.

A levels
Scottish Highers

The expert view

Surveying is a multifaceted discipline that plays a crucial role in shaping our environment. Surveyors are responsible for measuring, mapping, and analysing land, property, and construction projects. They provide the foundation for infrastructure development, urban planning, environmental conservation, and much more. The breadth of the surveying sector encompasses various fields, including land surveying, geospatial surveying, quantity surveying, and hydrographic surveying, to name just a few. Surveyors are instrumental in ensuring accurate land ownership records, safe and sustainable construction practices, disaster management, and the preservation of our natural resources.

Considering an apprenticeship?

Applying for an apprenticeship is just like applying for a normal job. Here’s what you need to know:
  1. Deadline

    Apprenticeships don't follow the same deadlines as applying to uni, the deadline is down to the employer.
  2. Where to apply

    You apply directly through the employer.
  3. No limits

    You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application; you can do as many as you like.

  4. Apply to university and apprenticeships

    There's nothing stopping you applying to university through UCAS, while also applying for apprenticeship vacancies.

Explore further

Go deeper into topics around building and construction with the following:
  1. Metroun Quantity Surveying YouTube channel

    Follow Metroun Quantity Surveying – run by a trio of senior quantity surveyors who want to help students and existing surveyors understand the workings of the industry and the job roles within it.
  2. First Site podcast

    A relatively new podcast hosted by Construction News, with discussions around environmental issues like decarbonisation and the financial state of the construction sector. A useful way of understanding the nuts and bolts of the industry, alongside Construction News’ website
  3. Royal Institute of Chartered Surveying (RICS) website

    As well as information about industry regulation and qualifications, the RICS website has lots of information about careers, networking, industry news, and plans for a sustainable built environment. Check out their Future Foundations feature on their YouTube channel too.

Application advice

Whether it's personal statement tips or what to write in a cover letter for an apprenticeship application, our application advice will help you get ahead in your building and construction journey.
Skills, experiences and interests to mention
  • How can you demonstrate you understand the role you’re applying for? Show you understand the industry you want to study in by talking about sites or publications you read, news you follow, or places you’ve been that inspired your interest.
  • What work experience have you had, or part-time jobs, either in the industry or elsewhere that demonstrate your ability to problem-solve and think innovatively?
  • Could you show you have what it takes to work towards a long-term goal? Maybe you learned a musical instrument or worked towards a theatre, choir or orchestra performance? Do some of the subjects you’ve studied illustrate planning and commitment?
  • When have you had a leadership role, and how did you guide or motivate a group of people? Have you been captain of a sports team, a prefect or led a school club? Many jobs in the industry will require these sorts of skills.
  • Think about the subjects you liked at school and how they would be needed in your chosen subject. For example, maths and physics for calculations and budgets, DT for design and planning, or geography or sociology for understanding our communities and the built environment.

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