Construction Apprenticeships

Imagine the building you’ve spent years working on becoming an office space, a bunch of flats or a tourist landmark. ‘Hey!’ you’ll say. ‘I worked on that!’

Construction Apprenticeships

Imagine the building you’ve spent years working on becoming an office space, a bunch of flats or a tourist landmark. ‘Hey!’ you’ll say. ‘I worked on that!’

An apprenticeship in construction will take you far. So far - in fact - that you might find yourself working on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a multi billion-pound storage system that stops sewage from leaking into the Thames. Or on Stanza, London’s newest landmark with its gorgeous skyline views.

If you want to work in a stable and growing industry, build a career (pun intended!) that’ll take you right to the top AND get paid for it, read our step-by-step guide to construction apprenticeships.

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What apprenticeships are in construction?

If you’re a school or college leaver aged 16-24, you can do apprenticeships in construction.

Construction apprenticeships come in all shapes and sizes. You can work in building, bricklaying, plumbing, carpentry or plastering. It’s a varied industry with endless opportunities.

Did you know that according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the demand for construction workers is close to a 20 year high. Crazy, huh? If you want to break into construction and make a name for yourself, there’s never been a better time to do it.

Apprenticeship levels

Construction apprenticeships come in four levels, depending on your age and experience:

As an apprentice, you’ll work for a company full-time and study towards nationally recognised qualifications on the side.

Intermediate apprenticeships

Level 2 construction apprenticeships are the first step on the apprenticeship ladder. They are designed for 16 year-olds and school leavers who have achieved at least two GCSEs graded 9 to 4 (A* to C) with passes in both Maths and English.

If you don’t have these qualifications, don’t worry as some employers will accept candidates without GCSEs if they have relevant work experience or a traineeship in construction.

Level 2 construction apprenticeships typically last between 12-18 months. Completing one successfully will earn you qualifications equivalent to five GCSEs, not to mention a nice paycheck too.

Below is a list of the different types of intermediate apprenticeships that are available in construction...

  • Construction Building

  • Construction Civil Engineering

  • Construction Specialist

  • Domestic Heating

  • Heating and Ventilation

  • Plumbing and Heating

  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning


Advanced apprenticeships

Level 3 construction apprenticeships are the next step up from level 2 apprenticeships. They allow you to put everything you’ve learned at intermediate level into practice and gain more advanced qualifications.

Level 3 construction apprenticeships can take anywhere up to 24 months to complete and help you develop more complex skills in construction such as bricklaying, carpentry, or technical drawing.

To get a place on a level 3 programme, you’ll need to complete a level 2 apprenticeship or have five GCSEs graded 9 to 4 (A* to C).

“I am enjoying this programme a lot. It has opened my eyes as I was skeptical about undergoing an apprenticeship at first, however, I feel that this scheme will set me up for life. I am learning and earning money while building connections and bonds with my co-workers. It has been great so far.”(Materials Technician and Level 3 Construction Apprentice, Balfour Beatty)

Here is a list of the different types of advanced apprenticeships in construction...

  • Building Energy Management Systems

  • Building Services Engineering Technology

  • Construction Building

  • Construction Civil Engineering

  • Construction Specialist

  • Construction Technical

  • Domestic Heating

  • Heating and Ventilation

  • Plumbing and Heating

  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

  • Surveying


Higher apprenticeships

Level 4 construction apprenticeships are the next step up from level 3 apprenticeships and are designed for school leavers aged 18 or over. To apply for a level 4 apprenticeship, you must have completed the following:

  • A-Levels

  • Level 3 and level 2 construction apprenticeships

As with all the other apprenticeship schemes, level 4 construction apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with academic study and allow you to gain nationally recognised qualifications in construction.

These apprenticeships usually take 1 - 4 years to complete, though the exact length will depend on your employer, programme and abilities.

As a level 4 construction apprentice, there’s a good chance you’ll have a permanent job waiting for you at the end of your scheme with a new or existing employer.


Degree apprenticeships

If you fancy earning a university degree but don’t want to spend thousands of pounds doing so, then a construction degree apprenticeship is the right option for you.

Degree apprenticeships allow you to combine full-time work with study and gain a Bachelors or Masters degree from a well-respected university.

“You learn so much more being involved with what you’re doing, and then what happens is that your work contributes to your education, rather than your education contributing to your work.”(Dominic Camilleri, Divisional Director at construction firm ISG)

Want to find out more about what it’s really like to do a construction apprenticeship?
Have a read of over 40,000 student-written reviews.


What age can you get an apprenticeship in construction?

Construction apprentices can work on a building site once they’ve reached the age of 16. If you’re under 16, consider getting experience in other areas in construction first like plastering and plumbing to widen your skill set.

In any case, focus on your GCSEs so you can move onto your NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) and begin your apprenticeship on the right foot.

As more and more infrastructure projects are put forward, the demand for young engineers is on the rise. So if you want to take the first steps in your career, check out our Best 100 Apprenticeship Employers to find the right company for you.

We’ve picked out some of the best apprenticeships in construction below...

Here’s what one apprentice thought about their time at Balfour Beatty.

“My apprenticeship has really developed my soft skills as well as my technical knowledge. I lacked a lot of confidence, but this has improved so much. I feel that my communication has also improved as a result of this.”(Trainee CAD Technician, Balfour Beatty)

Also, don’t forget to speak to your teacher or career advisor if you need further support. They can help with all sorts of things, from CV reviews to application tips.

You can ask them about the job market too, and find out if there’s any specific training you’ll need to get to where you want to be.

If you want to know the benefits of doing an apprenticeship in construction, check out the video below.

What GCSEs do you need for construction apprenticeships?

If you’re looking for apprenticeships in construction, you should take GCSEs in Maths, English and IT. These will help you with calculations, measurements and theory, and will give you a major step up in your career.

Construction is a broad industry, so your qualifications will depend on the sector you want to work in. Let’s see examples of these sectors below...


Want to learn how to fix leaks, install washing machines and unblock drains? If so, an apprenticeship in plumbing will teach you just that. To qualify as a plumber, you can do an intermediate and advanced apprenticeship.

Level 2 intermediate apprenticeship

To become an intermediate apprentice, you’ll need a minimum of two GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, but won’t need previous work experience. Just a willingness to learn. Oh, and you’ll need to be hands on and practical too!

Level 3 advanced apprenticeship

To become an advanced apprentice, you’ll need five GCSE passes at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or a level 2 apprenticeship. Each employer will have different entry requirements. So make sure you check this information first.

Choosing an apprenticeship is like browsing a pick ‘n’ mix aisle. You never know which sweets to pick! Luckily, City and Islington College’s Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technician Apprenticeship has a cracking programme on offer. Want to give it a go?

Go on... You won’t regret it.

What skills do you need to be a plumber?

If you want to become a plumber, you’ll need to have:

  • Good communication

  • Attention to detail

  • Teamwork skills

  • Problem solving capabilities

  • Customer service qualities

  • Ability to repair machinery

Building surveyor

Building surveyors inspect houses to make sure they’re in a good condition for sale. As a building surveyor, you’ll advise homeowners on any repair work they need to do. You’ll also check that the building meets health and safety standards and is safe to live in.

If you want to break into this industry, your best bet would be doing a chartered surveyor apprenticeship first.

To become a building surveyor, you’ll typically need:

Advanced apprenticeship

  • Five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and Maths

Higher / degree apprenticeship

  • Four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent

What skills do you need to be a building surveyor?

As a building surveyor, you’ll need to have:

  • Good communication

  • Technical knowledge

  • Negotiation, report-writing and presentation skills

  • Logical reasoning

  • IT Skills

Electrical engineer

Electrical engineers design and test electrical machinery to check they’re working properly. Electrical engineering is a HUGE field, so you can always specialise . You can work in:

  • Telecommunications

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Software engineering

  • Power systems

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to electrical engineering. It’s all about training and experience as that’s what gets your foot through the door. If you want to become an electrical engineer, start by doing an electrotechnical apprenticeship.

Level 3 electrotechnical apprenticeship

To get onto this three-year programme, you’ll need:

  • Four GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* – C) including Maths, English and Science.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll get an industry recognised qualification that’ll let you work professionally in the electrotechnical industry.

What skills do you need to be an electrical engineer?

To become an electrical engineer, you’ll need to boast:

  • Communication skills

  • High levels of organisation

  • Critical thinking

  • Attention to detail

  • Numeracy

  • Circuit design skills

  • Analysis capabilities

  • Understanding of engineering science and technology

Hungry for more? Read Ciaran’s story to learn about his degree apprenticeship at Schneider Electric.

Are building apprenticeships free?

They absolutely are! If you’re aged 16-24, your fees will be covered by the government and your employer. The government will pay the majority and your employer will top up the rest.

This includes degree apprenticeships - which is why they’re SO popular. Imagine studying for a qualification and graduating debt-free. Pretty sweet, right? We thought so!

How much does a construction apprentice make?

As an apprentice, you’ll be paid for:

  • Your normal working hours

  • Any training that’s part of your apprenticeship

  • Extra courses you’ll need to take, for example Maths and English

While your salary will depend on your apprenticeship level, you’ll still get paid the National Minimum Wage (£5.28 an hour). If you live in London, you’ll earn around £21,054 a year.

Can you earn more than the minimum?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, most employers will pay you more than £5.28 an hour. Remember, the more experience you gain, the more you’ll earn. Once you’ve finished your apprenticeship and get a full-time job, your salary will increase too.

Do you get any perks as an apprentice?

One of the great things about doing an apprenticeship is you’ll get access to an NUS discount card to use in shops, restaurants, cinemas and gyms.

Just think of all the Peri Peri fries you could get with that. Or West-End tickets to see your favourite shows!

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