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 Luke Drea from Teagasc to give some advice for people considering this job:

Luke Drea

Event Rider


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Luke Drea
The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is more of a life style than a job.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Building, Construction & Property

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At a Glance... header image

Building, Construction & Property

Building and construction is the process of creating structures and buildings, which in turn becomes property. This sector is at the core of our environment - from small property renovations, such as the addition of a room, or renovation of a bathroom, to the multi-million Euro development of  motorways, housing estates, shopping centres or office blocks.

careers in building construction and property

Career areas within Building, Construction and Property are wide-ranging from general site labouring with little or no construction qualifications needed, to Technical and Management roles requiring degree level educational standards, and Professionals with specialist skills and qualifications.

Source: CIF January 2018

Check out 'Careers in the Construction & Property Sector 2017' ~ GradIreland and CIF   
Register your interest in a construction sector apprenticeship - sign-up here.

Opportunities with Irish in this Sector
Building & Construction header image

Building and Construction has a dual role in the economy:
  • Construction directly provided 138,300 jobs across a variety of occupations and levels of skill in 2016, accounting for 6.7% of total employment. Many thousands more are employed in roles indirectly created by the Construction industry. The sector is the fastest growing in the economy, with the number employed increasing by 11,600 between 2015 and 2016. (Forfás National Skills Bullitan 2017)
  • It provides and maintains the physical infrastructures and buildings on which other industry sectors and society depends.
A sector on the rise

According to Tomás Kelly, Director of AECOM Ireland, there is a current upward growth in the industry. In 2017, construction output increased by 8%, and he predicted output in 2018 would rise by another 14%. Click here for more information on the GMIT International Construction Management Conference at which he spoke. 

The construction sector is made up of over 40,500 enterprises, significantly less that in the boom time years. However, the overall company size profile remains roughly the same. The majority (96.7%) of construction companies are small businesses, employing less than 10 people.

Like most areas of work, it’s only when we do a little research that we begin to unravel a surprising range of both interesting and rewarding careers. A construction career really depends on how much physical or technical work you want and the level you decide you want to work at.

Construction projects are varied and can include house building, building of schools and hospitals, water supply networks, transport systems, and power stations. When something is under construction or in the pre-planning construction stage, it is referred to as a building project. 

Careers in construction can be divided into four main areas:
  • Construction Craft Workers (Operatives, Labourers)
  • Trade Craftspeople (Four year apprenticeships)
  • Engineers and Surveyors
  • Architects

Construction Craft Workers

Over 40,000 people work as general operatives in the construction sector. In the past, these jobs were referred to as 'labourers' and regarded as unskilled roles. Today, these on-site jobs have become more specialised - Steel workers, Pipe layers, Scaffolders, Heavy goods vehicle drivers, Machine operatives, Asphalt layers and Demolition workers - all require a good deal of training and skill. 

Training for construction craft workers is sometimes offered ‘on the job’ but an approved, certified course is becoming the norm. In order to work in any capacity on a building site you must have a Safe Pass Certificate.

Trade Craftspeople

There are a large number of Trade Craftspeople operating in this sector. Trades in the industry divide into 'wet trades' (trades which use dry building materials that are mixed with water e.g concrete, mortar or plaster) and 'dry trades'.
  • Brick and Stonelayer
  • Plasterer
  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Carpenter/joiner

  • Painter/Decorator
  • Tiler
  • Construction plant fitter
  • Fitter

Craftspeople in these trades have been trained as apprentices under the Designated Crafts Scheme with SOLAS.

Apprenticeship is the recognised means by which people are trained to become craftspeople in Ireland. Explore our comprehensive area on Apprenticeship here.

The slow down in the sector resulted in little employment for general operatives and also made it very difficult to get apprenticeships. However, this situation has now changed dramatically and apprentices are in big demand again with lots of opportunities available.

Check out for details of vacancies.

Engineers & Surveyors

The construction sector employs many different engineering and surveyor roles. Civil, structural, building services, environmental and geotechnical engineering roles are required, as well as specialist areas, such as acoustics engineers. Civil engineers evaluate, research and manage  major civil engineering schemes, while building surveyors examine properties and advise on any defects.

Engineering Careers - Download the Engineering Sector Overview from
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
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The main employers of engineers are consultants, who advise clients, develop designs and oversee projects, and contractors, who carry out building work. Engineers are also recruited by developers and by large clients, such as retailers and local authorities.

A Career as a Chartered Surveyor


Surveyors are highly trained and experienced professionals that are employed throughout the construction, land and property sectors. They work across all aspects of the built and natural environment for a variety of employers, including auctioneers, valuers, developers, construction firms, facilities management, as well as county councils and state agencies. They generally specialise in one of the following areas:

  • Quantity Surveyor – advises on the costs of developing all types of buildings and infrastructure.
  • Building Surveyor – carries out building surveys and provides management and design consultancy services.
  • Geomatic Surveyor – maps the built and natural environment to provide accurate spatial data which facilitates planning, development and conservation. Geomatics is currently one of the most in-demand technical skills in the world!
  • Mineral Surveyor – provides expertise in the full life cycle of mineral development.


  • Residential Agency Surveyor – provides professional expertise in the valuation, management, letting and sale of residential property.
  • Commercial Agency Surveyor - provides professional expertise in the valuation, management, letting and sale of commercial property.

Video: Geomatic Surveying ~ SCSI

"Geomatics is currently one of the most in-demand technical skills in the world!"
For more information on the different types of surveyors, click here.

In the future, graduates will enter a far more regulated property and construction sector and high standards of education and qualifications will be a prerequisite for employers and clients in the public and private sectors. Professional membership of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland is a sign of high standards of professionalism in the construction, land and property sectors. 

Some of the many college courses available include an industrial placement year, when students can apply their learning in the workplace, gain practical experience and forge industry links. Colleges include DIT Bolton Street and the Institutes of Technology.

Many large building comp[anies have graduate programmes which provide excellent training in all aspects of property – from commercial (offices, retail, industrial), residential sales and lettings, professional services and property management.

Architects are the professionals in the sector who plan and develop designs for construction projects. Designing a building involves many steps:

  • Visiting and surveying the site;
  • Discussing with the clients what kind of building they want;
  • Developing a preliminary design for the building and refining it to make sure that it meets the clients' needs and budget and complies with the regulations;
  • Applying for planning permission;
  • Preparing detailed drawings and specifications;
  • Obtaining quotes from builders;
  • Administering the contract between the client and the builder
  • Checking that the building is being constructed in accordance with the drawings;
  • Making sure that payments to the builder are in order.

Once qualified, the variety of work open to you as a professional architect is wide ranging. You can work for yourself, or as part of a team in a small or large private practice. The architectural section of Government Departments, Local Authorities, Semi-State or commercial organisations also employ architects. You may wish to specialise in certain types of building, or concentrate a particular aspect of the job, such as design, technology, architectural conservation or project management, depending on your own interests, abilities and opportunities. Some architects choose academic careers in teaching and research.

[See also The Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI) here for detailed information on becoming an architect or an architectural technologist in Ireland.]

Construction Management

Another key role is the much sought after construction manager who plans and manages the building operations. The construction of any major building project is a feat of co-ordination and involves managing a range of people with specialist skills. Many construction managers progress through the ranks from a starting point as an apprentice, with further education and training along the way.

In general, construction professionals have spent a number of years in third level education and must meet the specific requirements of their particular professional body.


Many people work as Technicians alongside the professionals in the building and construction sector. Technicians carry out duties under the supervision of their respective professionals. Job roles include Building Technician, CAD Technician, Structural Design Technician and Construction Technician among others. Technicians are likely to have taken a course in 3rd Level (Level 6 or 7) in one of the IT Colleges around the country.

Town Planning

Planners are involved in making long and short-term decisions about the management and development of cities, town, villages and the countryside. Most Town Planners work in the public service with local authorities but many have consultancy roles within the architecture and construction areas.

Planning is a broad area of work that requires many different skills. Some planners specialise in a particular area of work. Work activities include:
  • Researching and designing planning policies to guide development
  • Developing creative and original planning solutions to satisfy all parties
  • Consulting with stakeholders and other interested parties and negotiating with developers and other professionals, such as surveyors and architects
  • Assessing planning applications and enforcing and monitoring outcomes as necessary
  • Researching and analysing data to help inform strategic developments
  • Designing layouts and drafting design statements
  • Using information technology systems such as CAD (computer-aided design) or GIS (geographical information systems)
  • Attending and presenting at planning boards and appeals and at public inquiries
  • Keeping up to date with legislation associated with land use
  • Promoting environmental education and awareness
  • Writing reports, often of a complex nature, which make recommendations or explain detailed regulations

DIT runs a diploma in Planning and Environmental Management which trains technicians in urban and rural planning.

Getting into the sector

In order to achieve the high level of quality required in the construction industry it is important to produce highly skilled personnel who are trained to adapt to new technologies. The industry is now very much management oriented and most people working in construction have third level degrees.

Institutions that support education for the sector:

Level 8 Construction Courses are available at : Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Galway Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Limerick IT, university of Limerick, Waterford IT, Letterkenny IT, Dundalk IT, Athlone IT, NUI Galway, Carlow IT and IT Sligo.

Levels 6 and 7 Construction Courses are available at: Cork IT, IT Tralee, Limerick IT, Carlow IT, DIT, Dundalk IT, Athlone IT, Waterford IT and IT Sligo.

Institutions that support education for apprenticeships 
Dublin Institute of Technology, Waterford Institute of Technology, Cork Institute of Technology and Limerick Institute of Technology.
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Property header image

If you choose property as a career, there are several different paths you can take. Property graduates work in professional roles relating to all aspects of property management, with particular emphasis on financial appraisal and evaluation of property in both investment and development teams.

There are many career options in The Property Sector, offering a choice of areas to specialise in - from commercial property to residential and auctioneering to portfolio management.

Commercial Property 
This involves services related to the ownership and occupation of property used for commercial purposes, such as offices, shops and warehouses.

Commercial is one of the biggest and most popular sub sectors of the property business, and also one of the most competitive areas. You could work in an area such as Occupational Agency (finding properties for businesses), Investment Property or Landlord and Tenant. 

Residential Property 
This area encompasses anything from a millionaire’s mansion to affordable housing developments. Services include valuation, development, marketing, mortgage-broking and investment advice. Almost any position involves a good deal of variety – a range of property types and clients from private individuals to property developers.

Most jobs in this area require third level education, and graduates tend to find work as Valuation surveyors, Property development surveyors, Property managers, or Investment advisers.

Auctioneers and Estate Agents are involved in the sale, letting, management and valuation of property. Generally, they work either in partnerships or practice on their own account. The career is suitable for those with an interest in people and property.

With the property profession now covering such a broad range of property-related aspects, graduates may work in many different areas, such as:

  • Sales by auction, tender or private treaty of land or residential/commercial/investment property
  • Valuations for sale, purchase, letting, mortgage, rating, insurance, tax and other purposes
  • Handling the purchase of property or land
  • Letting and management of all types of property or land
  • Sales and valuations of fine art/antiques, plant, machinery, livestock and other chattels
  • Compulsory purchase order disposals/acquisitions and town planning compensation
  • Acting as arbitrators and expert valuers for rent review purposes
  • Representing either landlords or tenants in rent reviews, or in relation to lease renewals under landlord and tenant legislation

New areas such as on-line auctioneering are showing promising signs for the future. DIT, Limerick IT and Galway-Mayo IT run degree programmes in this area. The Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers also run several courses. For more information click here.

Visit the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV) website for detailed information.

New opportunities continue to emerge in this sector and graduates find work in areas as diverse as banking and insurance. To practise professionally as an auctioneer, you must be fully qualified in all the legal, technical and other aspects of the business. You will also need to have an outgoing personality, like working with different people daily and have good negotiating and communication skills.

To practise as an auctioneer it is also necessary to have a special license issued by the Revenue Commissioners. You must be over 21, lodge a €12,700 deposit, obtain an auditor's certificate and apply to a District Justice for a certificate of Qualification. This license must be renewed annually.

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Full Address
Phone Number
The National Trust for Ireland, Tailors' Hall, Back Lane, Dublin, 8.
(01) 454 1786
Construction House, Canal Road, Dublin, 6.
(01) 406 6000
Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare St., Dublin, 2.
(01) 631 3894
22, Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, 4.
(01) 665 1300
IPAV HQ, 129 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, 2.
(01) 678 5685
Sycamore House, Millennium Park, Osberstown, Naas, Co. Kildare.
(045) 899 341
9-13 Blackhall Place, Dublin, 7
(01) 799 4519
Phoenix Park, Dublin 8
(01) 802 5300
38 Merrion Square, Dublin 2
(01) 661 1794
TEEU, 6 Gardiner Row, Dublin 1
(01) 874 7047
8, Merrion Square, Dublin, 2.
(01) 676 1703
UCATT House, 56 Parnell Square West, Dublin, 1.
(01) 873 1599
Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

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