Construction operative

site labourer
Construction and building

Career outlook for construction operative

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You’d work as part of a team on a building site to construct a building or structure safely and efficiently.

You’d use different building methods and work with a variety of materials. You’d use hand, power and machine tools, following health and safety rules, to successfully complete the different processes involved in a construction project.

At the start of a project you’d help to prepare the site. For example, you would:

  • Put up site huts
  • Unload and store building materials
  • Set up ladders and scaffolding

Once work starts, you could do a variety of tasks including:

  • Groundworking – mark out and dig shallow trenches for foundations and drains
  • Formworking – put up or dismantle the shuttering that holds concrete in place while it’s setting
  • Steel fixing– bend and fix the bars used to reinforce concrete structures
  • Steel piling – fix steel sheets together to form temporary retaining walls for excavation work
  • Concreting – layer and smooth concrete for foundations, floors and beams
  • Road working –pour concrete and lay kerbs, paving and re-surfacing

With further training, you could operate construction plant equipment, such as dumper trucks or excavators.

Working conditions


You would work a basic 39-hour week, often starting early in the morning. Overtime at weekends and evenings may be required to meet deadlines. Seasonal work is common and overnight stays away from home may be necessary.


You would work outdoors in all weather conditions and sometimes at heights. The work is physically demanding and often involves carrying heavy or awkward loads. You would be expected to wear protective clothing, such as a safety helmet and boots.


Overnight stays away from home may be necessary.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Cooperating
  • Resourceful
  • Problem solving
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There are no formal qualifications required for entry to this role but some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5. 

Useful subjects

  • English
  • Maths
  • Practical technologies subjects

You will also need

You usually need to pass an aptitude test.

You must hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent and pass a health and safety test to work and train on construction sites.

There is no age restriction for entry to the role but if you have to operate machinery you must be over 18 years old.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate an understanding of construction and practical skills such as

  • Skills for Work Construction Engineering (SCQF level 3)
  • Construction Crafts (SCQF level 4/5)

A Modern Apprenticeship leading to relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Construction: Building (SVQ level 2/3).

A driving licence can be useful.