How much will I earn in construction?
There are many routes into careers in the construction industry. The main ones for school leavers are an apprenticeship (started after GCSEs, A levels and/or vocational qualifications depending on the level) or a graduate scheme after university. Apprentices start earning a salary in a real job much sooner than a graduate and get their training paid for. Graduates typically start on a significantly higher salary, although they will have to pay back their student loans. However, some employers will sponsor students through university, meaning that they will have much less student debt (if any).
How much will I get paid as an apprentice?
Apprenticeship salaries vary depending on the employer and whether it is an intermediate, advanced, higher or degree apprenticeship.
The following salaries were offered by larger construction employers in 2019:
- AECOM: £13,000–£17,000
- Atkins: £12,500 for a level three apprenticeship up to £18,500 for a level six apprenticeship
- Laing O’Rourke: £16,500
- Mott MacDonald: starting from £12,500
Smaller employers are likely to pay closer to the minimum wage. The minimum wage for an apprentice is £3.90 from April 2019 onwards. This rate applies to apprentices aged 16–18, and those aged 19 or above who are in the first year of their apprenticeship. After this you will be entitled to the minimum wage for your age. Your employer must offer you a minimum of 30 working hours per week. If you work at the rate of £3.90 for 30 hours a week, your annual salary will be £6,084.
How much can I earn as a graduate?
Large employers who offer formal graduate schemes generally pay the highest salaries. The Institute of Student Employers (ISE) Annual Survey 2018 found that built environment employers who were members of the association paid an average salary of £27,100 – NB: ISE members tend to be the biggest, highest paying employers.
Here’s a snapshot at some of the starting salaries that larger construction employers have offered:
- AECOM graduate salary: £24,000–£27,000
- Balfour Beatty graduate salary: £24,000+
- Barratt Developments graduate salary: £24,000, rising to £27,000 for its London and Aberdeen offices and for its accelerated graduate programme
- Costain graduate salary: £28,000
- Crest Nicholson graduate salary: £25,500
- Laing O'Rourke graduate salary: £28,000
- Mace graduate salary: £25,000–£30,000
- Mott MacDonald graduate salary: £26,000–£30,000
- Network Rail graduate salary: £26,500
- Transport for London graduate salary: £27,000
- Wates graduate salary: £20,500–£27,500.
The Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends 2019 guide, which is based on the salary information given on job listings, job offers and from candidates, has put the typical salary of graduate engineers in the construction industry at £23,000 to £29,500 depending on location and graduate building surveyors at £21,000 to £28,750. The reason that these figures are lower than some of the salaries for specific employers listed above is because they reflect the fact that the information is based on construction companies of all types and sizes and from across different regions.
If I want to go to university, how can I reduce my debt?
Many construction employers offer you sponsorship through university. There are two types:
- Where you go to university full time and work for the employer during the holiday and for a certain number of years after graduating
- Where you work for the employer four days a week and attend university one day a week.
The level of financial support an employer gives you varies: some give you bursaries that cover some of your fees and living expenses; others, such as BAM Construct, will pay your entire course fees. Construction companies tend not to give full details about sponsorship salaries until after you’ve applied.