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Your planning pathway: How to progress your career in construction

16 Sep 2019

The construction industry has had an interesting few years, with construction-related employment in the UK increasing by nearly 4% in 2017, reaching its highest level on record. In the same year, the sector contributed a whopping 6% of the UK’s total economic output, which equates to £113 billion. It’s no surprise then that organisations are constantly seeking qualified, skilled and enthusiastic construction professionals across a range of disciplines, including planning.

The construction planning industry has a variety of roles and different stages, with clear progression opportunities both vertically and laterally. Here’s what you need to know:

What does a planner do within construction?

Planners support the successful completion of a building project in a number of ways, the most obvious being the creation of a programme of works. This programme of works will have a strong emphasis on cost and time, controlling the schedule and budget for a construction project. Strong attention to detail and the ability to structure and adhere to a strict schedule are vital, as planners have a key role to play in defining work tasks throughout a construction project. This covers everything from how long tasks will take to how many people and what equipment is required to complete them according to schedule and budget.

Professionals in this role may help to draft and review planning applications, liaise with managers, consultants, engineers and developers and produce tender plans to support bids. Strong communication and organisation skills are key, as planners will present information to internal and external stakeholders, keeping the client team updated on progress and organising the various phases of construction development. While the role is typically office-based, regular site visits are required and as such, a knowledge of construction is essential.

How can you become a planner in construction?

Most planners start out with an HNC, HND or a degree in construction or a related discipline, with relevant work experience expected by some employers within the construction industry. Other industry qualifications include a BTEC National Certificate in Construction, NVQ Level 3 in Construction Site Supervision and NVQ Level 6 in Construction Contracting Operations Management. A full BSc degree in Construction Management or Civil Engineering is ideal for those planners who are aiming to progress to planning manager roles, as is membership to the Chartered Institute of Building. Continuous professional development is an important part of a planner’s career progression, particularly when it comes to keeping abreast of new laws and regulations, health and safety legislations and industry developments.

What is a planning career path within construction?

Many in this industry start out as planning assistants, which involves on-site communications during a project, liaising with different departments and ensuing projects are delivered efficiently, safely and to a high standard. Planning assistants typically have their own workloads to manage, including preparing statements and managing subcontractors. This is where vital site-based experience is gained with contractors in order to progress to the role of planner.

From there, you can move into a senior planner position, planning manager or even project or construction director. The senior planner role encompasses much of the assistant work and can involve working with both the pre-construction and delivery teams to produce strategies, assess risks, monitor projects and maintain programme trails. Planners should have several years of planning experience to progress to the senior role, along with strong commercial awareness and teamwork skills.

Planning managers typically take on responsibility for managing the planning team. This involves a strong understanding of prioritising workloads and managing staff and external contractors, making leadership and communication skills critical. Managerial experience within construction planning - as well as several years of on-the-ground experience within the industry - can help with progressing to this level. ATSA Powerprojects, Primavera and BIM software experience can also be beneficial. 

Other career pathways include transitioning to site management and becoming self employed to maximise contract planning opportunities.

Find your next planning role with PSR Solutions

At PSR Solutions we are always looking for skilled and talented construction planners to fill permanent and contract roles around the UK. View our latest construction planner jobs here or contact us to start a conversation.
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