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If you need advice about a course or career option not covered elsewhere on the site please leave a comment below.

Please be aware that this site is not updated on a daily basis and it may take a while to get a response.

Please don’t ask about course availability in your area; the centralised databases that do exist are not extensive and are, at best, unreliable. The default location for your query ought to be your local college. Failing this, a Google search for ‘your area’ + ‘course name’ will often yield better results.

Stephen – I am currently about to start my HNC over a 2year period part time, i was wondering is there a book i could buy to help with all units throughout the course? READ MORE…

The Building Construction Handbook is the one book I would recommend. It covers all aspects of construction in a simple to read format with clear illustrations. It’s a book I used continually throughout my studies (over 10 years ago) and still a useful source of reference.

Barry’s Introduction to Construction of Buildings and Barry’s Advanced Construction of Buildings are also worth a look.

Stephen – Would this be suitable and cover all units in my HNC? READ MORE…

Not all, no. These titles cover the basic principles of construction and all the terminology. There are more books suited specifically to certain subjects but I can’t think of any others that cover so much in one book.

For instance, ‘Building Quantities Explained’ by Seeley & Winfield is a great resource on the subject of building quantities but it isn’t much use for anything else.

When you start your course you’ll be given a suggested reading list that covers all the subjects.

Robin – I have an employee who we want to send to college and do what was the old ONC in Building Studies. But I cant find anywhere to send him. Colleges only offer the B.Tech diploma which is full time and for 16~18 year olds. The HNC which is offered at two places I feel will be to hard for him Any clues where can go? READ MORE…

Not unless he’s willing to travel very far out the Brighton area no, sorry. I’d be tempted to go for the HNC, even though he may struggle a bit at first.

Have a word with the head of built environment at the college you have in mind and explain the situation. I’d be surprised if they couldn’t make some allowance?

Robin – Yes, done that and he can go to Hastings, and Crawly are going to re-think after changing their mind on the day of registration.
So what on earths happening with ONC? what are you supposed to do about progression through the qualifications if the first step on the ladder is missing?
As a matter of interest, where is the nearest college to Brighton that still does the ONC?

Colleges provide courses subject to demand and there hasn’t been that much demand for the original ONC (or BTEC National Certificate in Construction, to use it’s current name) for some years now. There just isn’t the willingness to invest there once was. It’s also a lot easier to go straight on to the HNC and get a pass than it once was.

Colleges are very much commercial entities nowadays and providing easy ‘fast-track’ courses is a lot more profitable for them. If you want to train someone to put 6 tiles on a splash-back it’s a different story entirely.

There isn’t a central database of course providers that can be relied upon to be accurate but from a quick search I think your nearest college would be Lewisham.

Darren – I would like the opportunity to progress my career and am seeking a conservation degree. Currently I have an HNC in building studies, National Heritage skills level 3 award in stone masonry, NEBOSH construction Certificate Credit, assessors award in construction. The problem I face is that I live in Northern Ireland and have been unable to find a course at any of our universities. Is distance learning a viable option or can you advise on how to proceed. READ MORE…

Unfortunately not. The only option for distance learning would be a Master’s Degree but this requires you to already have a degree in a related subject.

If you haven’t done so already, get in touch with The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) for further advice: [email protected]

Tony – I’ve recently moved here from Perth, Australia. I’m a UK citizen but been away for 13 years and served my time as a Bricklayer. While in Oz I was looking into completing a Cert 4 in Building and Construction, which then could be put towards completing a Diploma of Building and Construction. Such a course in Australia basically qualifies you to become a construction/site manager. Is the HNC in Construction a similar step towards this or am I better looking for the HNC in Construction Management. Id be looking at a self paced/online course if possible. READ MORE…

The Construction HNC is more of a general purpose qualification that covers many aspects of commercial construction. It can lead to a range of junior/middle management positions or as a step towards a degree or professional qualification. It would benefit anyone wanting to become a site a manager but it isn’t generally accepted as necessary (unlike the Australian system, as I understand it).

The Construction Management HNC is similar although the subjects covered are tailored more towards a management career. If you were a school leaver embarking on a career in site management I would encourage you to go down this route but as an experienced worker I’m not so certain it would be worth your while.

Of course, it would be beneficial but there would be no guarantee of a job at the end of it. There isn’t an online course available either, so you would have to commit to studying at least one full day a week for two years, which a lot of people struggle to do when they are working at the same time. Not many employers will allow you the time off either.

If I were you I would do the Site Manager’s Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) and start applying for supervisory positions with local builders with a view to getting some relevant experience.

When you are actually working as a site supervisor or assistant manager a whole new world of opportunity will open up to you. By all means do either HNC course, if you can, but do the above first and you’ll find life a lot easier.

Matilda – I am currently looking to do a part-time BTEC National Certificate in Construction while I am working but I am struggling to find colleges within London that offer this. Is there any alternative courses that is similar to this that would be beneficial for someone who is looking to work within the architectural industry. READ MORE…

If you get in touch with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) they should be able to give a you a list of colleges running the course, or advice on alternative options.

Anon – With regards to the red trainee card, he will be working with bricklayers, this is on the list? it will not be an apprenticeship, also will a certificate or letter from the college be sufficient to prove level 1 has been completed? READ MORE…

It is complicated since they have tried to incorporate so many job titles and I’m not certain what the exact requirements are. That said, I think he would have to be on an approved apprenticeship course to qualify.

I don’t know what proof is needed regarding his NVQ course. You can either try and contact cscs for clarification or a speedier solution would be to go through the application process and see what they ask for?

Duncan – I am MRICS, with a degree in Quantity Surveying. I no longer work as a Quantity Surveyor and have RICS dispensation to retain my professional qualifications for a reduced premium. I work on the Client side between the development / project management team and the operational team. Could you please advise which card I should apply for. READ MORE…

You may be able to apply for the Professionally Qualified Persons card (PQP) but it will depend on the exact status of your membership. Alternatively, the AQP card may be the most suitable but bear in mind this card lasts for 5 years and can not be renewed.

Anon – If I complete the level 3 CIOB diploma in supervisory studies qualification can I use that to progress onto the construction HNC? READ MORE…

The likely answer is yes. But you would have to get in touch with your local college, they may well accept this but it is at their discretion.

Hoi-chung CHAU – May I have the syllabus of the subject “Building Technology level V” that I have completed in 1984 under BTEC program for HNC in building studies conducted by HK Polytechnic. The reason for this is that I need it for credit transfer for my current degree study program. READ MORE…

Course materials are not publicly archived from this time. The earliest public archive is from 2010 – here…

For further assistance you should contact Pearson who are now the main BTEC course provider

Silvi – I would like to know from you if it is possible to do the SMSTS courses in non-consecutive days. I work at the moment with rota (I have the days off in different days in the week) and I don’t have the possibility to follow a course for a whole week. My question: Is it possible to follow the courses two o three days a week, in two or three different weeks? If it is possible, are there differences about the price? READ MORE…

The courses are provided by independent companies and you will have to ask them directly. At the end of the day, they exist to make money so I would expect they will try to accommodate you? The courses tend to follow a set routine so, in theory, I think it would be possible.

Karl – Hi, I really need some advice with how to progress, if you could advise me that would be great. I work for a small architectural company as a site supervisor overseeing commercial and residential construction/builds. I have an sssts cert and 20 months on site experience.
I want to progress in the industry working for bigger companies on large new build projects but I’m told I need a gold cscs card and a Nvq level 3 in construction before that’s possible.
Also I’m told that I need to be assessed on site but with my boss coming up to retirement we haven’t got any projects that I can be assessed on as I’m only helping out in the office doing bits and pieces.
Bit of a tricky one maybe but what can I do to get these qualifications?

Go ahead and enrol on the NVQ course Diploma in Site Supervision and you’ll find the provider will be able to help you with the assessments. They are businesses at the end of the day and have no incentive to fail you.

Get the diploma under your belt, get a Gold card and move on.

The system is a farce, sorry to say, so just play the game or be ruled by those who do.

D – I already do a lot of supervision on site. If my company vouch for this, would that be enough proof for the NVQ qualification? READ MORE…

Many people in the same situation but, regrettably, no.

Russell – Hi, I have an HND in Quantity Surveying followed by an BsS Hons in Commercial Construction Management. I currently hold the White AQP card which will run out out next year 2020. I have been working in industry for nearly four years now, 3y 4m as an Estimator and now 5 months as both Estimator & QS. Which card will I apply for next..? READ MORE…

The PQP card is those with a professional qualification. However, if you are ‘working as a QS’ rather than being actually qualified these isn’t really an option for you. The white card was introduced as a temporary measure until you qualify for the PQP.

Ian – Hi I am 49 years old I have just passed my cscs test in health and safety environment test can I still apply for my card? READ MORE…