Building and Construction

Building and construction is a fundamental industry in Australia and New Zealand. It provides residential and non-residential buildings (such as shops, offices, schools and hospitals) and infrastructure (such as roads, bridges, water and electricity supply, sewerage and telecommunications).

Activity in this industry is undertaken within both the private and public sectors. The supply of goods and services in the industry is mainly provided by and used in Australian industry.

The work

Construction is the fourth-largest employing industry in Australia, representing nearly 9.1 per cent of the Australian workforce.

Although building and construction professionals constitute a relatively low proportion of the industry, there are opportunities for graduates to obtain employment with local government, civil engineering contractors, large firms, private construction companies, specialist skills firms and in their own businesses.

Graduate opportunities are mostly found in the following occupational areas: architecture; building and construction management; cartography and surveying; interior design; quantity surveying; urban and regional planning.

The building and construction industry has experienced strong growth in recent years. In the five years to 2009, the industry grew by 208,200 jobs, with an average annual growth rate of 4.9 per cent.

(All figures courtesy of

What you need

  • Bachelor degree or higher qualification, or minimum of five years’ relevant experience
  • Mathematical abilities are highly valued as many roles involve the calculation of financial data and design physics
  • Creativity – the ability to conceptualise ideas and requirements based on client descriptions and transfer concepts to technical drawings and illustrations
  • In-depth knowledge of design, engineering and technology is vital
  • Computer-aided design (CAD) skills

Money matters

Graduate salary ranges for selected relevant occupations are as follows:

  • Construction estimator: $45,000–$60,000
  • Construction project manager: $55,000–$85,000
  • Quantity surveyor: $45,000–$65,000
  • Structural engineer: $50,500–$60,000

(Figures are taken from the Australian Graduate Survey 2008, GCA. Ranges refer to the middle 50 per cent of salaries for bachelor degree graduates with permanent residency, in full-time employment in Australia October 2007 to April 2008.)

Industry at a glance

  • 81% employed full time (architects and landscape architects)
  • 983,100 employed in 2009 (construction)
  • Positive outlook (1.4% p.a. growth: heavy and civil engineering, 2010–14)