Building technicians are involved in the construction of buildings and building works. At a level between craftspeople and managers, they act as a link between management and the labour force on site. They also provide practical support to engineers, surveyors, managers and accountants.
They may be involved in:
Planning - drawing up plans for use by senior construction and surveying staff. These may be alterations and amendments made to existing plans.
Estimating - detailing all the thousands of items needed for a contract (equipment, plant, materials and labour) and their costs. Each job is calculated in detail to arrive at an overall price that will win the contract and make a profit.
Purchasing - buying the materials needed at the best price and quality, to reduce costs and ensure the profitability of the contract. Working from the architect's drawings, they price all the materials, then contact suppliers and sub-contractors for quotations of costs and delivery times.
Visiting Site - checking materials and equipment when they are delivered on site.
They may also:
The standard working week is 37 to 40 hours, but building technicians often have to work overtime in the evening and at weekends. Sometimes they have to live away from home for short periods, or they may have to move to different areas of the country.
Building technicians work predominantly in an office or on site, depending on their job. Construction sites can be dirty, dusty and noisy. Technicians may have to climb ladders and scaffolding or go underground. Safety equipment, including boots and hard hats, is worn on site at all times.
Starting salaries may be around £14,000 a year.
There are around 20,000 people working as building technicians with building contractors and property developers, as well as in surveying and civil engineering practices. There are also opportunities in the public sector, local government, the Civil Service and the health authorities.
Work is available across the UK wherever building is taking place. Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, Connexions centres, Jobcentre Plus offices, and the magazine Construction Manager. The building industry is continuing to grow with developments in all areas of the country. There are usually more vacancies than applicants.
It is possible to train as a building technician with an employer as a technician apprentice. Most apprentices start between the ages of 16 to 18, although entry is possible after this. They usually need a minimum of four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including maths and science or technology, or the equivalent.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Another route for technicians is to take a full-time course leading to a BTEC national certificate or diploma, or an SQA national certificate group award in engineering.
Application should then be made to an employer for a trainee technician post.
The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) provides a fully employed and funded apprenticeship called the National Apprenticeship Scheme for Engineering Construction (NASEC) which offers individuals the opportunity to become a fully competent technician.
It is also possible to train in craft skills such as bricklaying or plumbing through the Construction Apprenticeship Scheme, and continue to train to be a technician. This could be through an Apprenticeship, a two-year programme leading to NVQ/SVQ Level 2, or through the National Construction College (NCC), leading to qualifications linked to NVQ's/SVQ's. Further information is available from CITB-ConstructionSkills.
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) offers qualifications in Construction Site Supervision and Site Management. These are offered nationally in CIOB Approved Centres, and are registered with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority under the National Qualifications Framework. They can provide the underpinning knowledge to support the attainment of an NVQ/SVQ at Level 3 Site Supervision and Level 4 Site Management Level 3 or 4, or similar relevant discipline.
Examples of NVQ's/SVQ's which are available are:
- Construction Site Supervision Level 3
- Construction Site Management Level 4
- Construction Contracts Management Level 5
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
A building technician should:
Technicians at the lower end of the scale can study for higher qualifications and gain skills and experience to progress to posts of increasing responsibility. For example, a technician could become a senior buyer, a chief estimator or head of department. In a large company, a technician could become a departmental manager.
Technicians can also progress to construction manager, by gaining further qualifications and relevant experience.
The Association of Building Engineers (ABE), Lutyens House,
Billing Brook Road, Weston Favel, Northampton NN3 8NW
Tel: 0845 126 1058
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB),
Englemere, Kings Ride, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7TB
Tel: 01344 630700
CITB-ConstructionSkills, Bircham Newton, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577
Websites: www.citb.co.uk/careers (for careers advisers, teachers and adults) and www.bconstructive.co.uk (for young people).
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET),
Savoy Place, London, WC2R 0BL
Tel: 020 7240 1871
SummitSkills, Vega House, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes MK15 0DF
Tel: 01908 303960
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.