Demolition operative

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Demolition operatives dismantle buildings and structures, remove hazardous materials, and carry out salvage operations.

Salary Range: £14,000 to £30,000

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How to become a demolition operative

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
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College

You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills
  • Level 2 Diploma in Construction Operations
  • Level 3 Diploma in Demolition

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

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Apprenticeship

You may be able to start by doing an demolition operative intermediate apprenticeship.

If you’re under 18, you’ll start as a general construction plant operative, then move into demolition training once you reach 18.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

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Work

You may be able to work as a site labourer, plant operator or construction tradesperson and take on-the-job training in demolition.

Direct application

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

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Registration

Further information

You can find out more about working in demolition from Go Construct.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • knowledge of maths
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

  • be over 18 years of age
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your tasks will depend on your role, and you could work as a:

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

You might use:

  • tools like hammer drills and oxyacetylene cutting equipment
  • plant machinery
  • explosives
  • crane-mounted industrial magnets to recover metals
  • burners to incinerate materials
  • crushers to put concrete slabs through to make aggregate for road building
  • specialist equipment to safely remove hazardous materials like asbestos and toxic chemicals

Working environment

You could work on a construction site.

Your working environment may be physically demanding.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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Career path and progression

With further training, you could specialise in a particular demolition method, like explosives. 

With experience you could progress into site supervision and management.