Building, Construction & Engineering

Building, construction, and engineering is a HUGE industry to get involved in. If you’re after a hands-on career filled with tonnes of opportunities to problem-solve and get a strong sense of satisfaction out of seeing a project done and dusted, this could be the pathway for you.

From building private homes to commercial properties such as office blocks, shopping centres and industrial areas, to public buildings such as schools and hospitals: the industry is responsible for a huge cross-section of development. Specialist engineers also assist in the development of roads, bridges, transport networks, electrical networks and much more.

The building and construction industry comprises six main sectors:

  • Building Completion Services
  • Building Installation Services
  • Building Structure Services
  • General Construction and Demolition
  • Signage and Building Surveying
  • Specialist Construction Services

The construction industry also covers things like land development and site preparation and the construction trades, including bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry and electrical.

Many development areas in society require engineers and many kinds of engineers are required to meet development needs! It means there is a broad choice of specialisations for those interested in a career involving putting things together and making them work.

There are five leading types of engineering that contribute the most to the sector:

  1. Mechanical Engineering
  2. Electrical Engineering
  3. Chemical Engineering
  4. Computer Engineering
  5. Civil Engineering

Construction, building and engineering is a growing industry in Australia, and qualified individuals with the right skills are in demand. But it’s not just Australia; almost every country needs skilled and knowledgeable construction workers and engineers to help them grow and develop, so there’s every possibility to take your skills global!

Entry into the sector is as varied as the roles available, so no matter what academic pathway you choose to pursue, there’ll be an opportunity to sta with a career in construction, building and engineering.

What You Could Do

Job roles in the building and construction industry are varied, and people may hold qualifications and skills in more than one specific area.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could pursue:

  • Trades Roles: This includes plumbers, electricians, plasterers, painters and decorators; these workers are specialised in at least one skill area and may work under contract, privately or be employed through a construction agency/organisation. They might work on private projects in private homes or large-scale projects like office buildings or commercial buildings.
  • Heavy Machinery Operator: If you’ve ever been past a construction site, you’ll know they use some pretty hefty equipment to get the work done! In this role, you’ll be required to perform daily maintenance and safety checks of equipment and operate equipment according to health and safety regulations. It also includes appropriately using handheld machinery tools such as scoops, shovel blades, rock breaking hammers, winches and blades.
  • Construction Manager: Construction managers lead a range of building projects from beginning to end. They are responsible for setting and keeping schedules, monitoring finances and budgets, hiring and resourcing the correct people with the correct skills to do the work required, and making certain that everybody is doing what they should, every day. They’ll also problem solve majo issues and keep clients up to speed on delays and additional work to be done.
  • Building Surveyor: Building surveyors are responsible for advising clients about the design, construction, maintenance and repair of buildings. They survey buildings and then report on their findings and make recommendations. They need excellent analytical skills and strong knowledge about different building structures.

There are five leading types of engineering that contribute the most to the sector. Let’s take a look at what each of these does:

  1. Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical engineering is one of the most diverse engineering fields. Engineers in this area of industry focus on the study of objects and systems in motion. Mechanical engineers research, design, build, test, maintain and improve all manner of things we use across our daily lives and society.
  2. Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineers create, design and manage electricity to help power the world. They are problem-solvers who apply the physics and mathematics of electricity, electromagnetism and electronics to process, harness and transmit energy.
  3. Chemical Engineering: Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with studying chemical plants’ design and operation and improving production methods. Chemical engineers develop economic and commercial processes to convert raw materials into useful products.
  4. Computer Engineering: Computer engineers research, design, develop and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks and routers. An important role of computer engineers is to integrate different hardware and components into computer and network systems.
  5. Civil Engineering: Civil engineering might be the biggest sector within engineering as a whole – civil engineering impacts a broad range of our daily living and lifestyles. Civil engineers design, construct, manage and maintain the infrastructure of modern society. Roads, railways, tunnels, buildings, bridges, airports, mines, dams, ports and harbours, water supply and sewerage systems and flood mitigation works are all shaped by civil engineers.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface. Each industry segment will also include administrative or managerial functions that support the sector in significant ways.

Graduate Employment and Gender Split

Although a degree is not always essential for every career pathway in most of the construction and building sector, it is required for engineering. Knowing what graduate employment looks like can help set your expectations and make further decisions.

The Graduates Outcome Survey tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors. Here’s the most recent data for engineering:

  • Engineering Graduates in full-time employment: 83%
  • Engineering Graduates in employment overall: 87.6%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time and/or who may have continued to higher studies; these are great percentages!

*Figures from 2020 survey results.

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within, but it remains a heavily male-dominated industry. Reports indicate that the average split is:

  • Males: 86%
  • Females: 14%

Professional organisations and groups are conscious of the biased split and there is lots being done to support and encourage women to enter the sector – especially engineering.

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Entry-level Trades Roles: $53-$56,000
  • Experienced Trades Roles: $68-$107,000
  • Construction Manager: $108-$152,000
  • Entry-level Engineer: $60-$65,000
  • Senior Engineer: $105-$170,000

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles. Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Any additional qualifications or certifications that give you a specialist niche skillset

Industry Growth

According to the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, the construction, building and engineering industry generates over $360 billion in revenue, producing around 9% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product, and has a projected annual growth rate of 2.4% in the next five years.

The construction industry, in general, has been impacted by COVID-19, with the slowing down of resources and the ability to work on large sites with multiple workers, but it is not anticipated this will slow down industry growth long-term.

The industry is forecast to gradually improve over the next five years, supported by demand for new housing construction and improved opportunities for specialised construction trades.

The most common occupation in the sector is carpentry and joinery, which makes up almost 10% of the workforce. In 2020, overall employment in the sector reached just under 1,180,000 and is projected to exceed 1,282,000 by 2024 – with a 12% growth in jobs between 2020 and 2024 for carpenters and joiners.

Employment for other in-demand occupations such as Building and Surveying Technicians, and Building and Plumbing Labourers is expected to grow by nearly 20% and 11% respectively.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

Entry pathways are varied and will depend heavily on the type of role you want to get into.

Vocational education and training (VET) are required for a range of building and construction roles such as:

  • Plumbing, Carpentry and Electrician roles
  • Forklift Truck Operator

You can also pursue many roles in the building and construction sector through:

  • Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You can start a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship from Yr 9 and work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience.
  • Work experience once you leave school: If you leave school at 16, you can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in entry-level positions and work your way up over time. Many of these organisations will also support you to gain further professional qualifications. You’ll need a strong skill set and good grades in Maths and English as a minimum.

Everyone working in the industry will need professional trades cards, the most common and entry-level of which is the White Card Course which you can complete through TAFE.

Entry-level qualifications you could pursue to begin a role in early learning or childcare include:

Construction Management and Engineering roles will require a bachelor’s degree, with most engineering roles also requiring followed a postgraduate qualification, alongside a professional work placement.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you do some research.

Whatever your circumstances, grades or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some top institutions in Australia to study include:

  • UNSW Sydney
  • The University of Sydney
  • Monash University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of Queensland

Where to Learn More

You can find out more about different building, construction and engineering pathways through professional bodies and organisations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organisations that can help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.