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Qualifications for a Career in Construction

Construction is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, employing millions of people across the country. It’s an incredibly exciting sector to work in, offering a wide range of different projects to get involved with. With the right skills, experience and training, a career in construction can take you anywhere.  As with any career path, in there are certain construction qualifications that are essential, both for those taking their first steps in their career and for those looking to progress upwards. Below, we break down some of the key construction qualifications that can help you throughout your career.


Apprenticeships are an excellent starting point, giving you the necessary introduction to the industry. Combining practical, on-site experience with training and education, they enable you to learn vital skills for your future career, while also preparing you for the necessary construction qualifications. You’ll be in full-time employment throughout your apprenticeship, meaning you can earn while you learn.

Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degrees

For a career in certain specialist areas of construction, such as engineering, quantity surveying or town planning, you’ll be required to complete an accredited undergraduate or postgraduate degree. For other areas, while specialist degrees can be an advantage, they are not essential and applicants can be accepted with other construction qualifications.

Alternatively, you may have the option to complete a conversion course. These are intensive postgraduate programmes, usually vocational, that run for anywhere between a few months and a few years depending on which route you take.

Higher National Certificates (HNCs) and Higher National Diplomas (HNDs)

Another option is to complete a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND). HNCs and HNDs are still classed as undergraduate qualifications, like a degree, but take less time to complete and are usually designed to prepare you for a specific career.

The HNC takes one year full-time or two years part-time to complete, and is equivalent to the first year at university. The HND takes two years full-time or three to four years part-time and is the equivalent to two years at university.

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs)

National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are a qualification gained through a mixture of practical experience and off-site learning. They are usually, but not always, gained as part of an apprenticeship, and run from the introductory level 1, up to level 6, which covers senior management.

Construction Qualifications and Competency Cards

Competency cards are an excellent way to demonstrate to prospective employers and the wider industry that you have the right skills, training and experience.

The most well-known card scheme is the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS). There are a number of different CSCS cards you can apply for, depending on the work you’ll be carrying out and the NVQ level you hold. Individuals can apply for their own card online, or employers can apply for cards for their workforce instead.

The Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) is another popular option, providing skills cards for the plant sector of the construction industry. CPCS is recognised by the UK Contractors Group and Major Home Builders Group as the preferred card to demonstrate compliance with codes of practice.

The Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) has been the industry recognised scaffold training scheme for over 40 years and is the preferred qualification for all major industry organisations including: CSCS, National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC), Health and Safety Executive (HSE), trade unions and Build UK.

The National Association of Shopfitters (NAS) provides shopfitters and interior contractors with accreditation via the Shopfitter and Interior Contracting Competence Scheme (SICCS).

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