General construction operative
Go Construct
King’s Lynn, Norfolk, GB
2d ago

Construction operatives are involved in a range of practical tasks on a construction site, including preparing ground ahead of building work taking place, and carrying out manual work whilst a project is in progress.

This could range from mixing and pouring concrete, to laying drainage pipes, moving materials and more.


Typical hours per week

42 - 44

How to become a general construction operative

While there are no formal qualifications needed to become a general construction operative, there are several routes you could take to help you pursue this career.

You could complete a college course, an apprenticeship or apply directly to an employer for work.

You should explore these routes to becoming a general construction operative, to find out which is the right one for you.

Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

College / training provider

Although there are no set entry requirements, anyone considering a career as a general construction operative would benefit from achieving GCSE qualifications (or equivalent) in maths and English.

You could study for a Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills or a Level 2 Certificate in Construction Operations to improve your abilities and job prospects.

You’ll need :

  • Up to 2 GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent (level 1 course)
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent (level 2 course).
  • Apprenticeship

    You could apply for an intermediate apprenticeship as a groundworker or construction operative with a construction company.

    You’ll need 2 - 3 GCSEs, usually including maths and English, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship.

    Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week.

    Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.


    You could apply directly to an employer to become a general construction operative, on-site labourer or trainee, especially if you have some previous on-site experience.

    This would give you the opportunity to develop your skills from more experienced members of the team, and your employer may provide training to help you specialise in a particular area of construction.

    Work experience

    Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a general construction operative.

    Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


    The varied nature of a general construction operative means that having a range of skills is ideal. Desirable skills include :

  • Good level of physical fitness
  • A head for heights
  • Ability to understand instructions and carry them out
  • General understanding of health and safety issues.
  • What does a general construction operative do?

    As one of the best jobs for someone looking to begin their career in construction, a general construction operative is responsible for a variety of different duties, including :

  • Helping skilled tradespeople with every aspect of the building process
  • Being involved in projects from start to finish
  • Following all health and safety procedures
  • Mixing and pouring concrete to make foundations, beams or floors
  • Digging trenches for foundations
  • Fixing scaffolding and building frames
  • Laying pavements and resurfacing roads
  • Assisting bricklayers, carpenters and other colleagues on-site, by providing materials
  • Marking out the area for the site using string lines and putting up barriers and safety signs
  • Laying drainage pipes, pavements and manhole covers
  • Operating hand machinery such as drills, pumps and compressors
  • Operating machinery such as excavators and dumper truckers
  • Working outdoors in all weathers.
  • What’s it like to be a general construction operative?

    How much could you earn as a general construction operative?

    The expected salary for a general construction operative varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained general construction operatives can earn £17,000 - £20,000
  • Trained general construction operatives with some experience can earn £20,000 - £30,000*
  • Self-employed general construction operatives set their own pay rates.
  • Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

  • Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019
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