Convert to a construction career with a postgraduate course
Postgraduate conversion courses in construction are designed to provide you with the technical knowledge required for a career in construction, whatever your undergraduate degree may be.
You can take these either before you apply for a job or while you're working in your first construction role; many employers take on graduates from non-cognate, or non-construction related, degree backgrounds, appreciating the breadth of experience they offer.
What do conversion courses involve?
‘Construction-related conversion courses typically comprise a range of modules delivered through a blended learning approach,' explains Steve Tyler, principal lecturer at Nottingham Trent University's School of Architecture Design and the Built Environment. ‘There will usually be a dissertation module, and students are assessed by a combination of group project work, individual assignments, and seen and unseen examinations.' Full-time conversion courses range from nine months to two years in length, but generally last for a year.
Conversion courses usually prepare you for a career in construction management, but there are courses available in other areas: check institution websites and what employers are looking for before taking things further. You'll need a good first degree, but Steve confirms that you needn't have studied construction before: ‘Students have come to us with first degrees in music technology, biological science, geography, politics and English.'
Converting before you apply
Gaining a postgraduate qualification before applying for construction roles will provide you with the technical knowledge and independent learning skills you need to prove your dedication to the industry – a great platform for your job hunt. As Steve says: ‘In recent times graduates from full-time postgraduate conversion programmes have been highly regarded and sought after by employers in the construction sector.' It's an investment that you'll need to consider carefully and work out how to fund – you'll also need relevant work experience to impress recruiters.
Studying while you work
Another route is to secure a construction role and study for a postgraduate qualification while you work. If you can demonstrate your skills and enthusiasm for the construction industry to employers who accept applications from non-cognates, it's possible they'll help you through a relevant postgraduate course if necessary. Pick up a copy of TARGETjobs Construction to find out which top employers accept applications from all degree holders. There are obvious work pressures involved with combining full-time work and high-level study, but it could ease the financial strain and it helps your learning. ‘The principal advantage of this route,' says Steve, ‘is that essential academic development can take place alongside practical experience, enabling students to more fully integrate their knowledge and understanding.'