Thinking a career in construction?

If you choose a career in building and construction you’ll be part of something big. The industry plays a massive role in Queensland as one of the biggest contributors to our economy. Sure, it doesn’t sound exciting when you put it like that – but think: all those high rise buildings, new bridges, new houses, plus all of the renovations that are so popular right now – none of that could happen without you.

The industry is the perfect place to build your career and there’s so much to like. You can:
  • learn on the job, not just in the classroom
  • earn while you learn with an apprenticeship or traineeship (with no HECS debt!)
  • feel a sense of achievement watching plans come to life as you build something
  • benefit from heaps of different career pathways – choose from over 70 job types
  • enjoy a change of scenery – different job sites mean no staring at the same walls week after week
  • stay in demand – we’ll always need houses, buildings, roads and bridges
  • maybe even have your own small business one day
What's VET?

When people start talking about getting into building and construction, you’ll often hear them refer to VET. There are so many ways to explain VET, but this is our favourite:

VET stands for Vocational Education and Training, which is an education pathway that’s focused on gaining practical skills and providing you with a nationally-recognised qualification, ranging from a Certificate I to Certificate IV, to a Diploma, Advanced Diploma, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate.

A VET course is similar to a university degree in that you spend a chunk of your time getting qualified for a real-world career, but it’s generally shorter, less theoretical and more hands-on, and more work-focused. You can complete a VET course at TAFE or another registered training organisation (RTO).%

Some quick info:
  • VET is the best way to get practical skills that lead to nationally recognised qualifications and real jobs
  • anyone over the age of 13 can become an apprentice or trainee
  • apprenticeships and traineeships involve both on and off-the-job training with an employer and through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO)
  • with an apprenticeship or traineeship you can earn while you learn
  • an apprenticeship or traineeship can take between 2 and 4 years to complete – but because it is a competency based system you progress as you become competent (skilled and knowledgeable) and completing a pre-vocational or pre-apprenticeship course can reduce the time of your apprenticeship

Choosing between uni and VET

There's a lot consider when choosing a career and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the choices —and the pressure to make the right one.

If you feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t know what you want to do – don’t stress. Over half of all high school students haven’t decided^. What is important is finding something you’re passionate about and can succeed at.

When you’re in high school there’s a lot of pressure from your teachers and maybe your parents to go to uni. While uni is great for many people – it’s not for everyone and you need to find the path that’s right for you.


62% of uni students
have considered dropping
out and  1 in 5 university students drop out
in their first year^

1 in 3 university students
fail to complete
their degrees
within 6 years^

4.7 = 
average years it takes uni grads to find full
time employment^

Common misconceptions

Our friends at Year 13 have heaps of handy tools and information to get you through high school and help you decide what path to take once you’ve graduated. They often hear misconceptions about VET grads like:

Myth: VET graduates earn low wages
Reality: 1 in 3 people think that the gap between uni and VET grads is more than $20,000. The reality is that the median full-time income for a VET grad is $56,000 which is just above the median uni grad wage of $54,000#.

Myth: VET graduates have trouble finding work
Reality: As university enrolments increase, the rate of grads in full-time employment continues to fall and is currently at 69% (the lowest in three decades) while the grad employment rate of VET students who train as part of a trade apprenticeship is as high as 92%.

You can find out more at

Another great thing about the industry is that almost anyone can get a start – and there’s no saying where you might finish. Some of our major construction companies are run by past apprentices.

  • If you’re still in school talk to your school’s VET co-ordinator about programs available to you in years 10-12 and the option of a school-based apprenticeship
  • If you’re out of school, the first step (after deciding which apprenticeship to do!) is finding an employer to take you on. The best way to do this is through word-of-mouth: asking people you know if they know of anyone looking to take on an apprentice
  • You can also jump on to search through current apprenticeship ads
  • The Queensland Government’s website has heaps of helpful tips and details of Apprenticeships Info – a help centre for all things apprenticeship and traineeship.
^After the Atar: Understanding how Gen Z transition into further educati and employment
#Perceptions are not reality: myths realtities & the critical role of vocational education & training in Australia, May 2017
This information is correct as at: 12/15/2018. Please visit the website to view the most up-to-date information.