Construction Graduate Jobs and Opportunities
The construction industry covers all aspects of the design, planning, building, repair and demolition of private and commercial buildings and public infrastructure.
Areas of Study in Construction
Most jobs in construction do not require a university degree. A TAFE certificate or apprenticeship is usually sufficient for physical, technical or operative jobs such as carpenter, bricklayer, electrician, joiner or machine operator.
This guide however will focus on the jobs in construction that do require university qualifications. These jobs require extremely high levels of technical expertise and knowledge, and grounding in management and business understanding. They include:
Architects design and in some cases supervise the construction of buildings and environments. An architect may also be called in to a construction site to provide advice during the building process as an architectural consultant.
- Civil/Structural Engineer
Civil and structural engineers design and create buildings, bridges, roads; and other public and corporate structures such as ships and oil rigs. They construct systems and structural components with the intent to maximise safety, comfort, useability and efficiency.
- Electrical Engineer
Electrical engineers are involved in the generation and distribution of power through electrical machinery and circuitry. In construction they may be called to connect new buildings to an electrical grid, or to design new electrical systems for buildings, mines, ships or public infrastructure such as lights.
- Construction/Site/Project Manager
Site, project or construction managers work with clients to understand their requirements; then plan, coordinate and control the entirety of the building project. The job combines human resources, time- and quality-management, mathematics, public safety and client communication.Construction managers are responsible for the translation of the client’s wishes into a financially and functionally realisable physical product.
- Building Surveyor
Building surveyors give advice on property and construction, determining the condition of existing buildings (defects, the extent of repair required); providing feasibility studies; advising on sustainable construction, energy efficiency, disability access, safety, preservation of historic sites; costing and scheduling for projects. A building surveyor (or a team) is required for every major construction project, and many repairs.
- Cost Engineer
Cost engineers are essential to the building industry, involved in the budgeting, planning and monitoring of construction projects. While financial advisors are sometimes used to fulfil this role, the cost engineer specifically applies scientific principles and techniques to the financial problems of estimation, costing, management, planning and profitability analysis. The work of a cost engineer often overlaps with that of a construction manager. They may also work under the title of quantity surveyor or construction economist.
With regards tertiary qualifications in construction, there can be a significant overlap between university and TAFE degrees for certain skills and jobs. Civil, structural and electrical engineering and architecture are offered at all major universities, while the skill-set required in construction and project managers can be provided in a university degree (as an associate degree or a specialisation within a Bachelor of Science) or learned at TAFE level. Some universities even partner with TAFEs (like Curtin University with Holmesbrook TAFE) and count TAFE courses as credit to their university degrees. Similarly, building surveying is offered by some universities (such as Victoria University) as part of a Bachelor of Technology, and at other universities (like CQ University) and TAFE institutions it is offered as an associate degree.
Because much of the work revolves around the application of knowledge and skills in practical settings, industry experience is an important prerequisite for most careers in the technical and management construction jobs. Fortunately for engineers, practical work experience is built into the university degree. For architects, building surveyors and construction managers, work experience may not be part of tertiary qualification but internship and vacation positions are still available with construction companies and contractors in such roles as assistant project manager, surveyor or designer.
Construction Salary Estimates
Salaries in construction vary depending on job and location, increasing with experience gained in the field. Entry level salaries for building surveyors are around $56 300. Graduate architects earn a median salary of $62 000, with higher rates of pay in Perth and Sydney than Melbourne, Brisbane or Adelaide. Building and construction managers can expect high starting salaries, around $80 000.