Moving Up the Ranks

A bored steel-fixer

Hi I 22 years old and currently working as a steel fixer I have a lv 2 NVQ in it, I abit bored of my job and don’t see myself doing it forever I’m unsure of what exactly I could go onto next?

I’ve looked into HNCs in the built environment but am not exactly sure I qualify for it and am a bit unsure of what I could do afterwards as I feel I’d possibly be to old for university by that time. What else can a HNC qualification lead onto without having to go to university and what other qualifications are out there.

As I say I’m a bit unsure of what career I want at this moment but am quite interested in the role of a building control surveyor. What steps should I take to get into a role like that? Thank you.



At 22 you could complete the HNC by the age of 25. If you think this is too old for university you are very much mistaken. I wouldn’t worry too much about what kind of role you want at the end of it since you need to explore further in to what each offers.

Your main problem is that you’ll need time out of work to complete both courses with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. If you can handle this then go ahead and do the HNC and follow it up with a degree. Your current experience should enable you to join the HNC course without any other qualifications needed. Good grades in the HNC will enable you to miss the first year of your chosen degree. Anybody can get good grades if they are willing to do the work required.

The biggest mistake you can make now is to spend too much time thinking and not actually doing anything about it.

31 Year Old Plasterer

Hi, I am a 31 year old plasterer with over 10 years experience. I run my own small plastering company which I enjoy, but I’m really keen to study something now while I a HNC in order to one day get off the tools…. I only have a level 2 nvq.

Would it make sense to go try and go straight to the HNC or do a level 3 nvq in construction and built environment first? Obviously if I get offered a place in the HNC course I’ll give it 100% but I don’t want to just struggle through it!

Thanks in advance, Jon


I don’t see why not? School leavers are expected to do the BTEC National first but you would probably find this a bit too basic and, dare I say it, a waste of time?

The HNC is a more advanced course and you’ll struggle with some aspects of it but, since it covers a wide range of disciplines, most people have problems at some stage.

You will find like minded people also on the course as well as people from different backgrounds who can help you with stuff you may have had little experience with. A lot of emphasis is placed on cooperation and how you get on with fellow students often determines how well you’ll do on the course.

At 31 you won’t be the oldest person there either, I can almost guarantee that.

Becoming a Surveyor or Building Control Officer?

I have an NVQ level 3 in bricklaying and would like to further my career to become a building surveyor or a building control officer. Please could you tell me the steps I’d need to take for both?



Assuming you don’t have any other academic qualifications, I would do the HNC in Construction first. In theory you should have A levels but if you have enough work experience the college can waive this requirement.

Once you have this you can do a surveying degree for which having the HNC will, usually, mean you can skip the first year. Surveying covers many disciplines though so your best bet is probably joining RICS as student member and asking them for more advice. It may pay to keep your options open though since what you feel will suit you best in 3 years time might be totally different from what you think now.

Becoming a building control officer is a little more tricky since there isn’t such a defined career route; especially since many local councils have run-down their own building control departments to the bare minimum. It may be you’ll be able to apply for a job as trainee or assistant building control officer at first and, obviously, the more relevant qualifications and experience you have the better?

It may also be worth contacting your local college to see if they can offer further advice. Some heads of built environment departments have a lot of local knowledge and contacts – so it’s always worth a try?

Getting into an Assistant Manager Position

Hi I have an HNC in Construction Management, I’m currently doing my CIOB Construction Management level 4 so I can apply for my black CSCS card, currently I’ve got a gold card from my nvq 3 in carpentry and joinery.

I’ve worked as a carpenter and joiner for 22 years. I’ve just done my SMSTS course. I’m doing my first aid at work course this week.

My goal is to try and get into an assistant site managers position is there anything else you could suggest i could do to get there?

thanks, Steve


Not really, you seem to be doing everything right. Sometimes you just need a bit of luck to get your first role; having the SMSTS and First Aid makes it easier to apply for jobs that come up since these are the hurdles that trip most people up.

Don’t be deterred from applying for roles you think you can do. I see a lot of jobs advertised where they are saying you should have a degree, so many years experience and so on. Be assured, that ideal candidate isn’t going to be applying. You might be the best option but only if you put your hat in the ring in the first place.

Studying to be an assistant site manager?

I am a 31 year old scaffolder who has been working on a persimmons site for the last two years in a supervisory role. I also have an nvq level 2 in bricklaying and knowledge of carpentry.

I am keen to study towards being an assistant site manager. Which courses do I need to go for first? I am not sure whether to do my nvq level 3 or if i can go straight to nvq level 4.

Also when is the best time to do a smsts course?



Short term I would do the SMSTS as soon as you can as well as a the 3 day first aid course. Neither of these qualify you as an assistant site manager but you’ll find it difficult to get your first role without them.

Getting your ‘first role’ is often a matter of just applying for assistant manager positions as they become available. Being the best candidate on the day counts more than anything these days and it’s often the quickest way to get your foot in the door.

Long term, I would recommend you do the HNC in site management or HNC in construction as this will give you the best grounding. And, ideally, I would do the CIoB Level 4 certificate with a view to becoming a full member.

Obviously, time and cost are limiting factors but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll get where you’re going.

Applying for a civil engineer course?

Hi im a bench joiner 15 years experience level 2 city and guilds in joinery but want to go on to better myself. Iv applied for a civil engineering course but unsure of what doors that would open to me with my background.



Civil engineering is a different discipline altogether so your background is unlikely to have much bearing on the future. I assume you didn’t pick the course at random and had some thoughts as to why this would be right for you?

The course tutor or dpt head is probably the best person to talk to really? However, once you start you will find that from talking to other people on the course (many of whom will be feeling just as lost as you will be) that there is a world of opportunity you were hitherto unaware of.

As you progress and find your feet, you’ll find you have strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others (as does everyone) and what you think about your future will be completely different to what you think now – in a good way, hopefully.

In short, if this is the course you have decided upon than go for it with 100% effort. Learning new skills and meeting new people is always daunting but the result is almost always positive in the long run.

Handyman to Site Supervisor?

Hello there, i have 10 year experience as handyman for last 2 years running my own Handyman Services,covering all kind trades.

Now I am working in primary school as Site Supervisor, as i am interested to go up to be Site Supervisor in construction site, what NVQ or city guild courses i should to go to do this?



Site supervisor roles are generally tied to a particular trade so you’d be advised to pick a trade you’re most comfortable with and do the relevant NVQ for it.

When you’ve done this you can do the Level 3/4 NVQ Diploma in Construction Site Supervision