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Demolition operative

Demolition operatives demolish and dismantle old and derelict structures and buildings.
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What does a demolition operative do?

As a demolition operative, you can work in one of the following roles:

  • labourer – preparing the site, putting up rails and safety screens, laying dust sheets and separating out reusable building materials after demolition
  • mattock man/mattock woman – stripping out fittings, removing doors and windows, dismantling roof structures
  • topman/topwoman – does all the tasks of the others as well as cutting steel framework at heights, stripping off fragile roofs and instructing others in safe demolition practices.

You use tools like hammer drills, oxyacetylene cutting equipment, plant machinery and explosives. You might also use crane-mounted industrial magnets to recover metals, burners to incinerate materials, and put concrete slabs through crushers to make aggregate for road building.

You have to follow strict health and safety regulations at all times, and you would be trained in the safe removal of hazardous materials like asbestos and toxic chemicals.


What do I need to do to become a demolition operative?

There are no set entry requirements, although a background in general construction, as a labourer, plant operator or tradesperson, may give you an advantage when looking for work. You  need to be aged 18 or over to work in demolition.

You could apply for jobs directly with demolition contractors. Some employers may ask for GCSEs in maths, English, and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications.

You may be able to get into this career by completing an apprenticeship in demolition plant operation, offered by CITB. If you are under 18, you will start as a general plant operative, then move into demolition once you reach 18.


Related skills

  • Literacy
  • Physical fitness
  • Teamwork

Vocational route

CITB Apprenticeship in Demolition Plant Operation

Desirable qualifications

  • GCSEs in maths, English, and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications

Where to find out more


Where could I be working?

You could expect to work in all weather conditions, and the work can be dirty and dusty. Work involves travel between sites and this may include overnight stays away from home.


Job families