How to become a Concrete Operative


How to become a... Concrete Operative

Jessica Tabinor Rail Jobs and Transportation

How to become a Concrete Operative

With widespread investment in infrastructure and a variety of high profile projects taking place around the country, there are excellent opportunities in the UK construction industry for concrete operatives.

Keep reading to find out more about the skills you’ll need and discover whether concrete operative jobs are the right fit for you.

£16-40k dependent on experience

Hinkley Point C / HS2

Apprenticeship, NVQ, City & Guilds


What do concrete operative jobs involve?

Concrete operatives can work in a variety of different industries on a range of projects. They play a vital role in the construction and maintenance of concrete structures. Your day-to-day duties will revolve around the constructing, setting and aligning of concrete forms for buildings, stairs, bridges, roads and more.

It’ll be physically demanding work, taking place in all weather conditions. As with any site-based job, a career as a concrete operative will involve some element of travel, and periods spent away from home working on sites around the country. Work will often be carried out overnight and at weekends to minimise disruption to the public, especially when working on roads.


What is a concrete operative’s salary?

The average salary for a concrete operative can vary according to the location, scale and nature of the project, as well as from one employer to the next. At the start of your career, you can expect to earn between £16,000 and £20,000 per year. However, as you gain more training and experience, this can rise to between £30,000 and £40,000.

These figures are intended as a guideline only. 


What skills do I need?

You’ll need an excellent eye for detail and the ability to understand and follow complex technical drawings and plans. Good levels of hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity are essential, due to the nature of the work. It’s also important to be physically fit, as the work can be quite demanding.

Maths and arithmetic skills are needed to be able to work out measurements and quantities, ensuring any wasted materials are minimised.

You’ll need to have knowledge of the latest health and safety procedures and be able to safely use a range of hand and power tools, as well as larger plant and machinery. Finally, you need to be confident working both on your own and as part of a wider team.


What qualifications do I need?

There are no specific entry requirements for concrete operative jobs, although one of the most common routes is through an apprenticeship. To gain a place on an apprenticeship scheme, you’ll usually need to have a minimum of 4 GCSEs at grade C or above, including Maths, English and Science.

If you want to further your education and training you could undertake a relevant NVQ or City & Guilds certificate.

If you’re going to be involved in plant operations, you’ll need to apply for a CPCS card.

Finally, you’ll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card if you’re going to be working on a building site.


What are the hours and conditions?

In a full-time role, you can expect to work between 35 and 40 hours per week, with your working day often beginning at dawn. You may be expected to work overtime during evenings, nights and weekends to meet deadlines, as and when the project requires it. The additional overtime pay you’ll receive offers an opportunity to boost your earnings.

Your work will take place predominantly outside and in all weathers. It can be dirty, noisy and physically demanding. You’ll be required to wear safety equipment, including ear protectors, a hard-hat, hi-vis clothing and strong boots.


Career progression

With the right training and experience, you could progress to a supervisor or management position. Alternatively, you can opt to specialise in a specific field or area.


Areas of specialism 

There are a number of different areas you could choose to specialise in as you move through your career, including bridge building, motorway construction and maintenance, tunnelling and more.

To search for opportunities across the sector click here. Or, browse our dedicated HS2 and Hinkley Point C pages for more information.