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Demolition operative

  • Hours

    39 per week

  • Starting salary

    £12,500 + per year

If you have a head for heights, and would like a job taking down buildings safely, this could be ideal for you.

As a demolition operative you would demolish or dismantle old and derelict structures or buildings.

In this job you would need to be physically fit. You would need to have construction knowledge. You would also need to work well in a team.

There aren't any specific entry requirements to get into this job, but you may have an advantage if you have some experience in construction. You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme.



 

The work

As a demolition operative, you can work in one of the following roles:

  • labourer – preparing the site, putting up rails and safety screens, laying dustsheets and separating out re-usable building materials after demolition
  • mattockman/woman – stripping out fittings, removing doors and windows, dismantling roof structures
  • topman/woman – all the tasks above as well as cutting steel framework at heights, stripping off fragile roofs and instructing others in safe demolition practices.

You would use tools like hammer drills, oxyacetylene cutting equipment, plant machinery and explosives. You might also use crane-mounted industrial magnets to recover metals, and put concrete slabs through crushers to make aggregate for road building.

You would follow strict health and safety regulations at all times, and you would also be trained in the safe removal of hazardous materials like asbestos and toxic chemicals.


Hours

You would work a basic 39-hour week, but you may be required to work overtime and weekends.

You could expect to work in all weather conditions, and the work can be dirty and dusty. You would always wear protective clothing on site. You might use specialist equipment, for example breathing apparatus when removing asbestos, or a safety harness when working at heights.

Work will involve travel from site to site and this may include overnight stays away from home.


Income

Trainees can earn around £12,500 a year. With qualifications, this can rise to between £13,000 and £18,000. Experienced operatives can earn up to £23,000 a year.

Demolition operatives may earn much more for specialist duties, such as operating plant machinery or using explosives. Overtime and various allowances could also increase income.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.


Entry requirements

Although there are no set entry requirements to become a demolition operative, a background in general construction, as a labourer or tradesperson, may be helpful when looking for work.

You could apply for jobs directly with demolition contractors. Some employers may ask for GCSEs in maths, English, and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications.

You may be able to get into this career by completing a demolition operative Apprenticeship, offered by CITB. If you are under 18, you would be trained as a construction plant operative, as you would need to be at least 18 to work as a demolition operative.

For more information about the demolition operative Apprenticeship, and general information on construction careers and qualifications visit the CITB website.


Training and development

Your employer would usually provide you with induction and safety training, covering areas such as control of asbestos and lead, accident prevention, electrical safety, fire prevention and control, and demolition regulations.

You may be encouraged to work towards the NVQ in Demolition at level 2, which contains options in:

  • preparing and clearing work areas
  • demolishing concrete, timber, steel and brick structures
  • dismantling fragile roofs and cladding
  • moving and signalling loads safely
  • operating demolition plant machinery.

Most demolition sites now require you to have a Certificate of Competence of Demolition Operatives (CCDO) card. This is linked to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) and shows that you are qualified to do your job safely. There are seven card levels, which reflect your experience and job tasks, including:

  • Labourer – you need a minimum of one year’s work experience and basic demolition knowledge
  • Mattockman/woman – two years' experience, adequate demolition knowledge plus NVQ Level 2 (limited units)
  • Topman/woman – two years' experience, good depth of demolition knowledge plus NVQ Level 2 (all units).

Contact the National Federation of Demolition Contractors (NFDC), National Demolition Training Group (NDTG) or CITB for details about the card scheme and training courses.

Subject to hard work and commitment, the role offers plenty of opportunities for progression and personal achievement.


Skills, interests and qualities

To be a demolition operative you should have:

  • a responsible attitude towards safe working practices
  • good fitness levels and a good head for heights
  • the ability to follow spoken and written instructions
  • practical skills
  • good teamworking skills
  • a knowledge of construction methods in order to take down buildings safely.

More information

National Federation of Demolition Contractors (Opens new window)
Resurgam House
Paradise
Hemel Hempstead
Hertfordshire
HP2 4TF
Tel: 01442 217144
www.demolition-nfdc.com

National Demolition Training Group (Opens new window)
www.ndtg.org

CITB (Opens new window)
Tel: 0344 994 4400
www.citb.co.uk


 

Opportunities

Typical employers include specialist demolition contractors, and general building and civil engineering companies.

Vacancies may be advertised in the local press and Jobcentre Plus, or you could contact companies directly. You can search for member companies on the NFDC website.

With experience you could progress into site supervision and management. With further training, you could specialise in a particular demolition method, such as explosives.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading:


 

Related industry information

Industry summary

The construction sector is represented by ConstructionSkills Sector Skills Council. Construction is the creation of the built environment covering all stages of the construction process, from creating the initial ideas and designs to actually building the structure and ensuring that everything continues to work after it is completed. The sector covers the following areas: building infrastructure (such as roads and rail); the building of public and private housing; the construction of public non‐housing (such as schools); industrial building; the construction of commercial premises (such as offices and retail units); together with the repair and maintenance of these constructions.

ConstructionSkills represents every part of the UK construction industry, from architects to bricklayers. The sector employs 2.35 million people, representing over 8% of the UK workforce.

The craft industry covers a whole range of different trades including:

  • Wood occupations – Site Joiner, Shop fitter, Wood Machinist
  • Exterior occupations – Bricklayer, General Construction Operative
  • Interior occupations – Painter and Decorator, Ceiling Fixer
  • Specialist occupations – Thatcher, Roofer, Scaffolder
  • Plant occupations – Plant Mechanic, Plant Operator

Careers in construction craft roles suit people who are practical and are willing to work in a team. Craftspeople can also move into professional and technician roles.

Key facts for the construction sector as a whole:

  • 92% of organisations in the construction sector employ less than 10 people.
  • 55% of the workforce is employed in manual occupations.
  • 37% of the workforce is self‐employed.
  • Much of the workforce is mobile.
  • More than 35% of people in the sector are their own boss running their own companies.

Jobs in the industry range from: bench joiner, wood machinist, built up felt roofer, mastic asphalter, bricklayer, stonemason, dry liner, glazier, renderer, plant operator, demolition


National and regional data

Fewer employers in the East Midlands and West Midlands who had tried to recruit skilled staff had encountered difficulties (9% and 16% respectively); compared with London and Scotland, where two in five employers had experienced recruitment difficulties (40% and 39% respectively).

East Midlands – The highest requirements are for labourers (1,210) and wood trade and interior fit out (800). There are little or no requirements for: plasterers and dry liners; roofers; plant mechanics/fitters; steel erectors/structural; plus electrical trades and installation.

East of England – The highest requirements are for painters and decorators (1,000) and plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades (870). There are little or no requirements for: wood trade and interior fit out; building envelope specialists; plasterers and dry liners; plant mechanics/fitters; plus electrical trades and installation.

London – The highest requirements are for labourers (640) and plant operatives (510). There are little or no requirements for: wood trade and interior fit out; bricklayers; painters and decorators; roofers; floorers; plant mechanics/fitters; plus plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

North East – The highest requirements are for labourers (550) and bricklayers (510). There are little or no requirements for: roofers; steel erectors/structural; plus plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

North West – The highest requirements are for painters and decorators (620) and floorers (410). There are little or no requirements for: scaffolders; and steel erectors/structural.

South East – The highest requirements are for painters and decorators (340), labourers (290) and civil engineering operatives (290). There are little or no requirements for: bricklayers; building envelope specialists; plasterers and dry liners; roofers; floorers; plant mechanics/fitters; electrical trades and installation; plus plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

South West – The highest requirements are for labourers (1,260) and wood trade and interior fit out (350). There are little or no requirements for: building envelope specialists; painters and decorators; floorers; glaziers; specialist building operatives; plant mechanics/fitters; plus plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

West Midlands – The highest requirements are for labourers (710) and wood trade and interior fit out (640). There are little or no requirements for: bricklayers; plasterers and dry liners; roofers; floorers; glaziers; specialist building operatives; scaffolders; plant mechanics/fitters; plus plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

Yorkshire and the Humber – The highest requirements are for labourers (540) and floorers (340). There are little or no requirements for: building envelope specialists; plasterers and dry liners; glaziers; specialist building operatives; electrical trades and installation; plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades; plus civil engineering operatives.

Northern Ireland – The highest requirements are for wood trade and interior fit out (200) and labourers (180). There are little or no requirements for: building envelope specialists; painters and decorators; plasterers and dry liners; roofers; floorers; glaziers; steel erectors/structural; electrical trades and installation; plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

Scotland – The highest requirements are for plant operatives (1,030) and wood trade and interior fit out (760). There are little or no requirements for: bricklayers; roofers; floorers; electrical trades and installation; plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning trades.

Wales – The highest requirements are for wood trade and interior fit out (1,170) and labourers (730). There are little or no requirements for: plasterers and dry liners; steel erectors/structural; plus electrical trades and installation.

[N.B. Data derived from Constructionskills Labour Market Intelligence 2010‐2014.]


Career paths


Further sources


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