People in the industry often talk about Tier 1 to Tier 3 companies, and this can often be lost on those new to the workforce, or unfamiliar with the jargon.
Elinor Moshe from The Construction Coach explains just what a tier is, and why it’s important to consider them when breaking into the industry.
Crash course: construction companies are differentiated into their tiers by the value of work they can undertake. For example, Tier 1 builders may include Probuild or Multiplex, who have the capacity to deliver a $500 million project, and bigger companies like CPB, Lend Lease and Laing O’Rourke, who can deliver billions of dollars of work.
Tier 2 builders can undertake work anywhere from a hundred-thousand dollar fit-out, to a $100M project. Within tier 2 there are also tiers, as if it wasn’t already confusing enough. Tier 3 and under are typically in the residential sector, or only undertaking small fit-out or refurb projects. The number of employees is also factored in to a company’s tier. I’m not here to give you information you can google though.
If you’re just starting out, it can be attractive to work for the big names, the ones with cranes in the CBD skyline. This suits some people, but definitely not others. I certainly had no desire when I was starting out to be channeled into a 2-year graduate programme, nor did I perceive my personality at the time suitable to working in a very large organisation.
So what are the key things you need to consider when weighing up who you’d like to work for, in terms of company size, when starting out your career in construction?
In no particular order:
- Project size – larger organisations have projects with a larger value. What this means is more people on the project delivery team, which is required because of the sheer size of the workload. This can result in members of the project team being ‘pigeon-holed’ – meaning you only get exposure to certain aspects of project delivery at any time, and you don’t have full exposure or visibility to all aspects of a project. For example, you may be doing defects for 6 months, or be a project coordinator for one trade package, i.e. façade or concrete. When you go down the tiers, you may be more involved in many more aspects of project delivery, as the size of the team decreases.
- Project duration – larger projects have longer durations, which means you can be on one project for years. This has its benefits, as you get a full appreciation for a build and can really get to know the details. For example, you could be on a CBD tower for 5 years if you’re there from start to finish. The other end of the spectrum is fit-out. Fit-out projects are typically short and sharp – I’ve done a $4M fit-out in 15 weeks, for example. If you want more diversity and turnover between projects within an organisation, look at the size and duration.
- Project type – if you’re into bespoke projects, apartments probably aren’t going to be your thing. What happens on level 5 is probably the same as what’s happening on level 9 in an apartment building. Bespoke projects are one-of-kind, like civic buildings, healthcare, educational, etc. that can have unique structures and spaces.
There are certainly other considerations, such as company culture, growth opportunities and remuneration.
Think about the type of projects that interest you, and then find a company that suits. If you are not too sure, you can approach a company that does a variety of projects to help familiarise yourself with different build types. Based on my experience, I don’t recommend going to a company and letting them decide on your career path.
Your path is your own for the choosing and making.
About Elinor Moshe
Elinor Moshe is an emerging leader in the construction industry, and is currently working as a Contract Administrator for Icon Co. Her diverse experience on project delivery includes fit out and new build in complex environments for government and private clients, having delivered $80M+ of work to date.
She is a 2019 participant of the Property Council’s Top 500 Women in Property Programme, and has been featured in the Australian National Construction Review as an industry commentator. Elinor holds a Master of Construction Management and Bachelor of Environments from the University of Melbourne.
Elinor is actively involved in mentoring peers and demonstrating the viable and rewarding career construction is for people, and has been the keynote speaker for industry events and graduate fairs on multiple occasions, along with delivering lectures for the University of Melbourne’s Master in Construction Management degree.
As such, she is the founder of The Construction Coach, a platform dedicated to helping students and graduates build a career in construction via career intelligence and industry insight. Her platforms’ blog, masterclasses, private coaching and digital courses aim to bridge the gap between university and industry, and to add value to the student experience.
Image Source: Multiplex
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