Building a successful career in construction is more than just being up for the physical challenge of the job. It’s a hands on industry that relies on people with practical skills and know-how but also planning and managerial skills and a high level of professionalism.
Although many start their careers at the bottom and it can be tough at times, the industry can be incredibly rewarding and can offer a great deal of career progression.
So, what makes for a successful career in construction? We take a look at the skills and experience you’ll need to make it:
Hands On Practical Skills
This really is a given in the construction industry as it relies so heavily on practical skills. This includes good hand-eye co-ordination and a level of fitness to be able to complete the physical aspects of the job.
Both verbal and written communication skills are required to be able to progress in the industry. Not only for communicating with clients and customers but also for managing and communicating with staff and co-workers to ensure a project is running smoothly and issues and ideas are shared in a way that is understood by all involved. Being a good listener also goes a long way with clients and staff.
Many roles in the industry rely on critical thinking and the ability to anticipate and react to problems quickly with the client’s best interest in mind.
A technical skill that can be learnt over time and through training but is essential for career progression is reading blueprints and understanding construction, plan and shop drawings.
Construction is by its very nature a team effort – not one person is responsible for the success of a project. This requires being a good team player and as you progress, being a good manager or people and inspiring and motivating those around you as well as yourself.
Every project will have a commercial aspect and understanding this can be a real asset in your career, as business is about profit – for you/your company and the client. Cost accounting and financial analysis are also key skills that can be honed to ensure a successful career.
Projects that overrun are costly for both the construction team and the client. Being able to manage your own time, and that of you staff is imperative to a strong career – as is an assertive attitude and prompt response.
Enthusiasm, dependability and flexibility
These three traits have been cited as essential for a construction worker. It can be tough, so you need enthusiasm to complete the job in hand. You need to be dependable and turn up and do as you say you will. And, as projects invariably change due to various factors, you need to be able to adapt to change easily.
Innovative and creative
Many successful construction professionals enjoy being creative and innovating in their work – and this can give you the advantage over someone else in the same position as you. Balancing this with risk assessment is a great skill to to have.
Sound health and safety knowledge and awareness
Safety – for yourself, your co-workers and staff and your client is imperative. Keeping this at the forefront of your mind will ensure everyone is safe and secure in the working environment and will help anticipate and prevent problems and dangers.
To excel in a career in construction, and move beyond the hands on elements of the job, a good business-head is required. Being able to hone your entrepreneurial and business skills to generate profit and run a sustainable business will help in many higher level roles in the industry, even if you do not run your own business.
Legal and contractual skills
These skills can complement the hands on and the business management traits attributed to a successful career in construction. Being aware of legal aspects of construction will give you a broader awareness of the full scope of the project in hand and allow you to adhere to contracts and anticipate issues in advance.