Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Donal Kane from Construction Industry Federation to give some advice for people considering this job:

Donal Kane

Plumber / Construction Super.

Construction Industry Federation

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Donal Kane
Once you’re willing to listen, take advice and work hard there are many options for career paths / future development.

The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with clever technology. They will often follow the latest developments in their chosen field, and prefer mentally stimulating environments.
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Is engineering for me?

Are you naturally curious about how things work? Love solving problems? Enjoy making, breaking or designing things? If you answered yes, engineering might be right for you.

Is engineering for me?

Are you naturally curious about how things work? Love solving problems? Enjoy making, breaking or designing things? If you answered yes, engineering might be right for you.

Career Opportunities... header image
What are the main occupations in this sector?

Careers in construction can be divided into four main areas:

  • Operatives or Labourers
  • Craftspeople (4-year apprenticeships)
  • Engineers and Quantity Surveyors
  • Architects

The main engineering disciplines in this area are based on Civil engineering, a profession that deals with the design, planning, construction and maintenance of buildings, structures and essential water and waste water services.

Examples of civil engineering projects include bridges, roads, canals, dams, airports and offshore oil platforms. Civil engineering is all about improving and protecting the world we inhabit.

Civil engineering includes several sub-disciplines, which offers an exciting and broad range of career choices that allow students to choose a speciality:

  • Structural: analysing and designing structures that are safe and can withstand the forces of nature such as bridges, skyscrapers, space platforms and amusement park rides.
  • Transportation: providing new and improved innovations to meet people's travel needs on land, sea, and air, and reducing traffic congestion.
  • Environmental and water: designing systems that will render toxic substances harmless, treat both water and waste water, reduce solid waste volumes, eliminate contaminants from the air, prevent flooding, create energy from hydroelectric facilities and protect our coasts from erosion. This includes the design of dams, canals, treatment plants and pipelines.
  • Construction: seeing projects through from design stage to construction and completion. These projects include the development and construction of stadiums, skyscrapers, houses, bridges, tunnels, roads, railways, dams, pipelines and major buildings.
  • Geotechnical engineering: using soil and rock mechanics to design foundations for structures, land reclamation and tunnelling.

Employment opportunities include the following:

Local Authorities: providing services for people living in the area, making sure there are safe roads to drive on, clean water to drink, and houses to live in, and investigating new services.

Contractors: managing construction on site developing and designing construction processes and techniques and supervising a professional team.

Consultancies: designing and planning projects, focusing on services, solutions and environmental impact.

Clients: working with regular construction clients that maintain in-house teams to work on or supervise major projects.

Building services engineers ensure that the buildings we live and work in are comfortable, safe and energy efficient. They do this by designing building services systems and supervising their installation and operation. Typically 30–40 per cent of the total construction costs in commercial and industrial buildings are associated with the provision of services such as lighting, heating, air conditioning, power, data communications, public health systems and lifts.

The work of a Building services engineer involves:

  • Advising clients and architects
  • Designing suitable systems (using computer-aided design) and supervising their installation
  • Liaising with structural engineers, construction managers, builders and surveyors.

Building services engineers are employed by consultants, contractors, local authorities, the public health and healthcare sector, universities and the manufacturing industry.


What types of employment contracts are there?

Civil engineers and building services engineers work for large construction companies, engineering contractors, consulting engineers and, in the public sector, for local authorities.

Civil engineers are involved in the design and supervision of a wide range of infrastructure projects.

Companies providing engineering services to the construction industry also offer opportunities, for example in the production of plants, tools and equipment or in servicing specialist areas such as quarrying or waste management.


What are the typical earnings of these occupations?

Engineers Ireland recently carried out a salary survey among its members. It revealed that engineers across all types of engineering enjoy excellent salaries. Members with less than one year’s experience earn on average €31,000, with this rising to €34,780 in their second year.


How do you get a job in this sector?

The construction industry needs engineers, project managers, and trades people, semi-skilled and general operatives.

Many construction companies are small and do not have personnel managers. The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has recently launched a new initiative for those seeking employment opportunities in the sector -

  • To work in construction you must have an up-to-date SafePass.
  • You can also apply directly to construction firms, companies operating quarries or related businesses.
  • Contact or visit local construction sites.
  • Keep an eye on the recruitment sections of newspapers.


Education and Training... header image
What qualifications are required?

Civil engineers in Ireland usually qualify with an academic degree. The duration of this degree is usually four or five years. Students can study courses from a certificate (Level 6), an ordinary engineering degree (Level 7) or an honours engineering degree (Level 8) in colleges and universities across Ireland.

A Level 9 Masters degree and three years' experience is required if you wish to apply for the registered title of Chartered Engineer.


What are the typical routes into this sector?

Civil engineers in Ireland usually qualify with an academic degree. The duration of this degree is usually four or five years.

Students can study courses from a certificate Level 6, an ordinary engineering degree at Level 7 or an honours engineering degree at Level 8 in colleges, Institutes of Technology and universities across Ireland.

A Level 9 Masters degree, and 4 years experience is required if you wish to apply for the registered title of Chartered Engineer.


Advice... header image
What advice do you have for school leavers?

There has never been a better time to secure an apprenticeship, given the increasing level of demand in the construction sector.

If possible at school, choose subjects such as construction studies, technical drawing, science or woodwork. Those interested should try to source work experience in the area of interest. 

Becoming an Apprentice:

To start an apprenticeship, you must first obtain employment as an apprentice in your chosen apprenticeship area, with an employer who is approved by SOLAS to train apprentices.

Careers for apprenticeship-based craftspeople include:

  • Plasterer
  • Bricklayer
  • Painter/Decorator
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Glazier
  • Stone Cutter
  • Plant Fitter
  • Sheet Metal Worker

Apprentices must be at least 16 years of age and have a minimum of grade D in any five subjects in the Junior Certificate or equivalent. However, employers may require additional minimum qualifications.

Last year, CIF launched - a dedicated website for the construction industry which aims to match interested apprentices with employers in the sector - you can log on and register your interest or search for vacancies here:

A list of recruitment websites and employers with links to their apprenticeship recruitment url is also available here.

Other sources of information for finding apprenticeship vacancies include

  • Checking with relatives, neighbours or friends who work in a construction-related area.
  • Researching companies that might consider recruiting you as an apprentice.


What advice do you have for graduates?

The past two years have seen a major increase in construction activity within the industrial sector. There has been a lot of refurbishment and extension work carried out and demand for commercial and residential property is now growing strongly again, particularly in the Dublin and Leinster regions.

90,000 more homes are needed over the next few years - 12,500 additional houses per annum up to 2021. There will also be a significant demand for commercial property in the years ahead.

There is significantly increased demand for engineers and other construction specialists, inparticular, project management skills. There is also a shortage of available and suitable candidates as recruitment by main building contractors, civil & structural consultancies and architectural firms has really picked-up.

Ensure you have an up-to-date SafePass so that you can work on a building site.


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Global Opportunities... header image
Are there overseas opportunities available?

Skilled construction workers, professionals and trades persons can secure employment worldwide. Irish construction workers can be found in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. The result of this has been a substantial loss of skills base and expertise in the construction sector in Ireland, especially in design and building.

The industry is currently working to attract the Irish diaspora to return and take-up work opportunities in Ireland towards addressing current skills shortages.


Are there opportunities in this sector for non-Irish nationals?

The sector has now returned to growth with opportunities opening up again for non-Irish nationals.


About this Sector... header image
Please give an overview of your sector?

The construction sector is growing once again and continues to be a major employer in Ireland.

The building of domestic houses is on the increase, as are publicly funded projects such as the building of new schools and school improvement projects; the national roads programme and road safety improvements, and the LUAS interconnection project, Social Housing Provision, and Regeneration work.

Areas of growth in the sector include the green economy and wind energy, which make a significant contribution to employment in the sector.


What is the size and scope of the sector?

The Irish construction industry has changed dramatically in the last two-three years. From a low point in 2012 when the industry employed just 98,000 people to a point where 1,000 people a month are now joining the sector.

Over 140,000 people are now employed in the construction industry and the recent DKM Report, Construction Skills Demand to 2020 is predicting that the level of employment will rise by a further 112,000 people in the next three years.

A career in construction really depends on how much physical or technical work you want and the level you decide. In order to work in any capacity on a building site you must have a Safe Pass certificate.



About Us... header image

STEPS was established in 2000 to encourage primary and post primary students to explore the world of science and engineering. The STEPS programme encourages primary and post-primary students to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics while also promoting engineering as a career choice. The value of the programme has been formally recognised by Government and is a key element of the national Discover Science & Engineering programme. It is managed by Engineers Ireland and is supported by the Department of Education & Science, Forfás and a number of major engineering employers.

The aims of the Engineers Ireland STEPS programme are:

  • Raise awareness among students about engineering as a career choice
  • Encourage a positive attitude towards careers in engineering, science and technology
  • Promote a greater understanding of the role/contribution of engineering in society and how engineering is relevant to our everyday lives
  • Highlight the advantages, diversity, opportunities and excellent rewards offered by a career in the engineering profession