Qualifications for tradies: how to secure your future career

Qualifications for tradies: how to secure your future career
Photo: Tom Wang, Bigstock

Although jobs in the construction industry vary, becoming a builder without doing an apprenticeship isn’t possible. It’s a crucial training period and sets you up for your career.

But qualifications for tradespeople go beyond the completion of your first apprenticeship. You can upskill at any time in your career with building and construction courses online, especially with construction constantly changing as new technologies are adopted.

The first few years on the job are very physical and involve working long days. At this stage, you may wonder what it will take for you to make the next step in your career.

This could be moving off the tools into management or even owning your own business. In this case, looking into building and construction courses to boost your skills is essential.

With flexible online options, you can fast-track your career by getting a certification to get you ahead of the pack.

Which trades benefit from further qualification?

Regardless of your specific trade, there is no job in building and construction that can’t act as a path to management or higher jobs. If you’re looking into building and construction courses in Australia, identify training for management as part of the course.

You can also expand your skill set into an adjacent profession within the industry by taking building and construction courses.

Let’s look at three examples below.

From journeyman to master plumber

Your initial building and construction course in Australia will likely teach you all there is to know about basic leaks, drainage and pipe systems. But after a few years on the job as a plumber, this is likely to comprise only a small proportion of the work you actually do.

Perhaps you routinely make house calls or work on new build sites for a developer. You’ve completed your Certificate III during your four-year apprenticeship—so what’s next?

If you’ve never worked in construction before, you’ll need to get your White Card to get started. If you’re planning to move interstate for work, you’ll also need to consider any additional licences you need to obtain.

By upskilling through a building and construction course in Australia, you’ll increase your employment opportunities nationwide.

If you’re business-minded or are interested in contracts and construction law, then you might like to consider becoming a master plumber.

Instead of working for someone else, you will be a contractor yourself and licensed in the business of plumbing. This means you’ll be drawing up and taking full responsibility for new contracts.

In this role, you’ll need to have a firm grasp of the ins and outs of running a business, which comes from years of working within teams under someone else.

To become a master plumber, you’ll need knowledge and competencies from a building and construction course such as a CPC40912 Certificate IV in Plumbing and Services. You’ll also need a qualification that covers business, finance, and legal risk management.

It may take some time and hard work to get there, but the salary upgrade is well worth it.

According to Payscale, an entry-level plumber will earn an average of $49,000 per year, while a master plumber will get closer to $73,000. When you’re running your own business, your income could be even higher.

From carpenter to construction manager

Carpenters, or ‘chippies’, routinely upskill into higher-level construction careers, like Building Supervisors or Construction Managers.

These roles rely on your hands-on understanding of building principles and practice while allowing you to get off the tools and instead put on your supervisory hat.

You’ll be in charge of operational workflow, making sure a job is done smoothly and delivered on time, on budget, and to code.

While you’ll need significant real-world experience, your qualification can be obtained through building and construction courses online, outside of work hours. The first step after a few years on the job will be to complete your CPC40110 Certificate IV in Building and Construction. 

This may involve a few years working in an intermediary position of Project Manager.

This qualification will allow you to obtain a building license for residential jobs. If you want to lead commercial sites, you’ll need to complete a CPC50210 Diploma of Building and Construction (Building).

Again, the salary is well worth the extra few years you invest in your study. Construction Managers earn $110,000 a year, compared to early-career carpenters at just $52,000.

From electrician to electrical engineer

The pathway from an electrician, or ‘sparky’, to an electrical engineer, is not one that is commonly taken, with only around 4% of electricians taking this option.

As an alternative to building and construction courses, this can be an incredibly promising way to progress your career when moving into senior and eventually principal roles.

In fact, you could earn upwards of $150,000 at the peak of your career, far more than the entry-level salary of an electrician at $58,000.

To do this, you’ll need to look into taking Advanced Diplomas in Electrotechnology or Engineering Technology to get started.

Electrical engineers design products or components of products that use electricity to ensure they are effective, safe, and eco-friendly. You may work across a number of industries, including construction.

Alternatively, you can start a higher level building and construction course in Australia and move into construction management roles. Again, you’ll need to complete a CPC50210 Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) to be considered for management positions.

These career paths may vary and can require university qualifications or the completion of building and construction courses online. But they prove one thing—just how much you have to gain by taking on further study.