From parade ground to construction site

Prior Military training and work experience can all count as invaluable transferable skills when looking to move into the construction industry. For example, if you completed a relevant apprenticeship during your Service, then this training will be just as valuable in construction.

If you are a former officer, then your leadership skills could make project management a good career choice. Other Military disciplines such as IT, engineering, logistics, transport, and administration all have a potential crossover to the construction industry.

If you do need to re-train, there are plenty of routes to your new career in construction – you could complete an apprenticeship (there are no upper age limits on adult apprenticeships), study at college with work-based learning or you could complete a conversion course if you have a degree that doesn’t directly relate to the industry.

You can potentially get help with the cost of re-training, with funding and bursary schemes available from organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers and the National Federation of Builders. The Prince’s Trust also offers grants of up to £500 for those under 30 looking to

With skilled tradespeople in such demand, pay and career progression opportunities are also favourable, as are the opportunities to work for yourself.

Qualified and experienced electricians can expect to earn around £36,000 a year, plumbers over £31,000, while construction site managers can bring home up to £65,000. Self-employed tradespeople can set their own rate.

Could construction be for you?

We’ve chosen to outline three different construction career options open to ex-Forces personnel but this is just the tip of a very broad industry. A full A-Z list of construction jobs and careers can be found at:


Role: Install, inspect and test electrical wiring and equipment, both domestic and industrial

Entry requirements: To work as a qualified electrician, you need an NVQ Diploma or Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) at Level 3 in Electrical Installation. Construction apprenticeships are a good way into a career as an electrician. You usually need at least four GCSEs, including maths and science. Some apprenticeship schemes are open to people over 25, though if you are employed you could work towards the NVQ Diploma without doing an apprenticeship.

Salary: Newly trained electricians can earn £14,500 – £19,000, with their salary rising to around £30,000 with experience. Senior or master electricians can earn in the region of £30,000 – £36,000.

Civil Engineer

Role: Civil engineers play a key role in planning, designing and managing construction projects, including site investigations and risk assessment.

Entry requirements: You usually need a three-year Bachelor of Engineering degree or four-year Master’s degree in civil engineering. If you already work in the industry as a technician, you could qualify as a civil engineer by studying part-time for a BTEC HNC/HND, Foundation degree or degree in civil engineering or through degree apprenticeships in construction.

Salary: Newly trained civil engineers can earn from £20,000 – £40,000, rising to £60,000 with experience. Senior, chartered or master civil engineers can earn up to £80,000.

Plant operator

Role: Plant operators use heavy machinery such as bulldozers, cranes and excavators to dig, lift and move materials on a building site.

Entry requirements: There are no formal entry requirements to train as a construction plant operator, but some employers ask for GCSEs or equivalent vocational qualifications. Construction companies and construction agencies often want people with some on-site or relevant experience.

Salary: Newly trained plant operators can earn in the region of £20,000, rising to £30,000 with experience. Senior plant operators can earn up to £40,000.

The Construction Skills Network recently reported that construction output is expected to grow over the next five years, with around 150,000 new jobs set to be created.

Find out more about a career in construction Go Construct is an industrywide initiative aimed at getting more skilled people into the construction workforce.

Funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), its website provides a wealth of career and training information, guides and resources.


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