Cover Image for Life Behind the Rebar: RC Frame Construction Jobs in the UK

Life Behind the Rebar: RC Frame Construction Jobs in the UK

Henryk Jakubiak

Henryk Jakubiak

Co-Founder, Fixed

Life Behind the Rebar: RC Frame Construction Jobs in the UK

Welcome to a comprehensive guide to the world of RC (reinforced concrete) frame construction. This complex field is driven by a wide range of specialised roles, each contributing to play a critical role in building the UK’s infrastructure. Every role is pivotal in ensuring a project's success and this blog will delve into the ins and outs of these positions, exploring job descriptions, progression opportunities, required qualifications, and pay. Whether you're new to the industry and curious about potential career paths or a seasoned professional seeking a deeper understanding of your industry, this blog will serve as your roadmap to the robust framework that keeps the construction industry standing tall.

The Labourer - the backbone of the construction site. With a strong work ethic and unwavering commitment 😉, they carry out a wide range of tasks, from moving materials to assisting tradespeople. No specific qualifications are needed, but a CITB Health and Safety Awareness course is essential. It is not a legal requirement to have one, however most if not all construction sites will not let you on if you do not have one! It is also the starting point for all your future qualifications – so go and get your CSCS card asap!

£: You can expect to earn between £12-£15 per hour in this role, however the overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Labourer
Labourer

The 360 Operator is the site’s resident excavator expert, deftly manoeuvring heavy machinery with precision and care. Their skill in digging foundations, trenches, and anything else that requires some earth-moving magic is unparalleled. Obtaining a CPCS (Construction Plant Competence Scheme) card is crucial, as it is widely recognized within the UK construction industry and often required by employers. The CPCS offers two categories of 360-degree excavator qualifications the A58: Excavator 360° Tracked (below 10 tonnes) and the A59: Excavator 360° Tracked (above 10 tonnes). The CPCS Red card is the entry level card, soon after starting work as a 360 excavator you should look to do your NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) Level 2 and upgrade this to your Blue CPCS Card, which will improve your future job opportunities and rate. Alternatively, you can pursue an NPORS (National Plant Operators Registration Scheme) card, another well-recognized certification in the UK construction industry. NPORS offers two categories of 360-degree excavator qualifications: N202: Excavator 360° and N016: Excavator Micro 360 – up to 1 Tonne. Like the CPCS, obtaining the NPORS card for 360-degree excavators entails attending a training course and passing both a theory and practical test. If you have the choice, get the CPCS, as occasionally you get the odd choosy employer who requires CPCS rather than NPORS which can be very frustrating.

£: You can expect to earn between £18-£21 per hour in this role, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

360 Operator
360 Operator

The Crane Operator orchestrates the seamless lifting and manoeuvring of immense loads on construction sites. With their unyielding focus and precision, they ensure the safe and efficient progress of projects from inception to completion. The route to achieve mastery of the crane a CPCS A60 Mobile Crane or CPCS A04 Tower Crane ticket. Upon successful completion, you receive a CPCS Trained Operator (Red) card, valid for two years. This card indicates that you are a newly trained operator, and you will require supervision until deemed experienced enough to operate unsupervised. By acquiring the NVQ Level 2, you will attain the coveted CPCS Competent Operator (Blue) card, signifying your expertise and command of the towering machinery. But there is more to learn then what is taught in the course - seasoned operators whisper legends of 'The Bottle Technique.' You see, a crane cabin lacks certain homey facilities – most notably, a loo. But nature doesn't care if you're two feet or two hundred feet off the ground, when you gotta go, you gotta go. And so, the trusty water bottle becomes more than a hydration vessel - it morphs into a beacon of relief, a necessary sidekick, the crane operator's essential companion. And mastering 'The Bottle Technique' becomes a rite of passage, an unwritten test of skill and dexterity, a mark of a true crane operator.

£: You can expect to earn between £20-£25 per hour in this role, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Crane Operator
Crane Operator

The Crane Banksman is the maestro of the construction site, orchestrating and directing crane movements. With their trusty hand signals and a keen eye for spatial awareness, they ensure the smooth and precise movement of loads, avoiding collisions and keeping everyone safe. To become the ultimate Crane Banksman, a CPCS Slinger/Signaller (A40) or NPORS Slinger/Signaller course (N402) is a must! A CITB Vehicle Banksman course and CITB Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) course, will really make you stand out from the crowd!

£: You can expect to earn between £19-£27 per hour in this role, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Banksman
Banksman

Meet the Banksman's sidekick - the Slinger Signaller. These skilled communicators attach loads to cranes and direct the crane operator with precision. To get your hands on this coveted role, a CPCS Slinger/Signaller (A40) Course or NPORS Slinger/Signaller (N402) Course is your ticket to ride.

£: You can expect to earn between £17-£22 per hour in this role, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Slinger/Signaller
Slinger/Signaller

The Traffic Marshall is the site’s traffic cop. With their orange high-vis vest and a nice bright orange trousers, they keep the site entrance under control, ensuring pedestrians and vehicles can coexist peacefully. An CPCS Vehicle Marshall (A73) or NPORS Vehicle Marshall (N403) will get you started on your journey to becoming the ultimate road warrior.

£: You can expect to earn between £15-£17 per hour in this role, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Traffic Marshall
Traffic Marshall

The Foreman is the RC Frame construction's watchful guardian, keeping an eye on quality, progress, and safety. With mastery in a specific role, such as shuttering carpenter, steel fixer, or slinger/signaller, they bring a wealth of hands-on experience to the job. They expertly manage the workforce, coordinate materials, and hold the keys to the site's secrets. A CITB Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) is the golden ticket to joining the Foreman ranks. But the journey doesn't stop there. With dedication and continued professional development, a Foreman can progress further to become a Construction Manager.

£: You can expect to earn between £21-£30 per hour in this role, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Foreman
Foreman

The Construction Manager is the big boss of the RC Frame world, overseeing the entire project from start to finish. With their CITB Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) qualification, they expertly navigate the complex world of budgets, schedules, and personnel management.

£: You can expect to earn between £25-£40 per hour in this role, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Construction Manager
Construction Manager

The Shuttering Carpenter, a master of moulds, creates the formwork that shapes our beloved reinforced concrete. With their skilled hands and eye for detail, they ensure the structural integrity of the final product. Experience on site followed by a NVQ Level 02 in Formwork will set you on the path to joining this elite group of artisans. The journey does not have to stop there, many experienced carpenters (or chippy’s as they are known on site), progress to become foremen.

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £20-£27 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Shuttering Carpenter
Shuttering Carpenter

The Chippy Labourer is the Shuttering Carpenter's trusty sidekick, providing invaluable support in assembling and disassembling formwork. These resourceful individuals learn the tricks of the trade and often go on to become Shuttering Carpenters themselves. Standing out as a top labourer can give you a head start in this rewarding career.

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £12-£17 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Chippy Labourer
Chippy Labourer

The Steel Fixer is the unsung hero of RC Frame construction. They expertly tie steel reinforcement bars (rebar) to create the skeleton of the structure, providing strength and stability. An NVQ Level 02 in Steel Fixing will make you stand out from the crowd and will arm you with the knowledge and skills required to tackle this essential role. A fixer’s role does not have to stop there, you will become an expert in one of the most essential parts of the construction process and learning to read and correctly interpret the complex rebar drawings is an amazing skill, which can propel your career in a variety of different directions; from becoming a foreman to a quality assurance engineer!

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £20-£25 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Steel Fixer
Steel Fixer

The Mobile Pump Operator is the lifeblood of the RC Frame construction site, responsible for pumping fresh concrete to where it's needed most. They ensure a smooth flow of the crucial building material, keeping the construction process on track. To become a Mobile Pump Operator, a UK driver's license (Category C or C+E) is essential and a CPCS A06 Concrete Pump Truck Mounted Boom ticket is your best bet.

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £18-£25 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Mobile Pump Operator
Mobile Pump Operator

The Concrete Finisher, the Michelangelo of the construction site! With their skilful hands and an arsenal of tools, they sculpt, smooth, and finish our beloved concrete surfaces like a true artist. Their creativity knows no bounds, with a steady hand and plenty of practice they're always ready to create the next concrete masterpiece.

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £16-£20 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Concrete Finisher
Concrete Finisher

The Health and Safety Officer is the RC Frame construction site’s guardian angel, protecting us all from the perils of the construction world. They’re our safety superheroes, swooping in to enforce regulations, conduct site inspections, and share their wisdom through safety training. With a CITB Health and Safety Awareness course and a shiny NEBOSH or IOSH certification, they’re always ready to save the day, one hard hat at a time.

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £23-£30 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Health & Safety Manager
Health & Safety Manager

The Engineer is the site's resident problem-solver, calculating measurements and interoperating drawings to ensure the structure is stable and built in the right place. Becoming an engineer is a fascinating process and while a degree in Civil or Structural Engineering is helpful, experience in the job can be better! What do I mean by that? Starting off working on site as a labourer, fixer, carpenter or Cubeman will give you relevant experience when transitioning to an engineering role. For example, having an in depth understanding of the pressures of fixing steel quickly and accurately to the problems that can exist when putting up formwork as a carpenter will give you the knowledge of the real-world work processes that happen on site – something you certainly won’t learn at university. This will make you a better engineer as you will be able to provide all the useful information that actually helps the other trades do their jobs! But don’t I need a qualification if I want to progress? If you want to be a Project or Senior Engineer in the future, then yes you will need qualifications. Luckily, the CITB offers a range of courses you can take whilst working, allowing you to earn money whilst getting qualified – no university fees to deal with! You can top it off with a CITB Temporary Works Coordinator course to really stand out from the crowd.

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £23-£40 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Setting-out Engineer
Setting-out Engineer

Last but not least, the Cubeman is the unsung hero of quality control. They carefully prepare the concrete samples for testing to assesses the strength, this is a critical step in ensuring the final structure meets the highest standards. To join the ranks of these vigilant professionals, training from one of the site engineers is essential, Socotec also offer excellent onsite training courses. This is a great place to start if you have ambition to become an engineer.

£: Based on how experienced you are, you can expect to make between £13-£16 per hour, overtime rate can be 1.5 or 2 times this amount.

Cubeman
Cubeman

So, there you have it - the diverse and dynamic ensemble of professionals within the UK's RC Frame construction industry. Each role plays a crucial part in bringing our beloved structures to life, and with the right courses under your belt, you too could join this ever-growing family. Here's to forging new connections, creating lasting landmarks, and contributing to the remarkable world of construction. Happy building!

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