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Also known as -

Formworker, plant operator

A groundworker is a construction professional who prepares the ground before, during and after building. Usually the first tradesperson on a construction site, groundworkers set out and prepare the sub-surfaces ready for the structural work to begin, installing drainage systems, concreting, carrying out de-vegetation, interpreting design specifications and more. Groundworkers work throughout a construction project and often carry out the final tasks, such as laying driveways and footpaths.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become a groundworker

While there are no formal qualifications needed to become a groundworker, there are several routes you could take to help you pursue this career. You could complete a college course, an apprenticeship or apply directly to an employer for work. 

You should explore these routes to becoming a groundworker, to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

If you’re involved with plant operations, you will need a Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) card.

College/training provider

Although there are no set entry requirements, anyone considering a career as a groundworker would benefit from achieving GCSE qualifications (or equivalent) in maths and English.

You could study for a Level 1 Certificate in Groundworks or Construction Skills, or a Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Groundwork and General Construction.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


An apprenticeship with a construction company is a good way into the industry.

You could complete a level 2 groundworker apprenticeship, which is equivalent to five GCSE passes and is highly regarded by construction employers.

There are no entry requirements, although you will need a good understanding of written and spoken English.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


You could apply directly to an employer to become a trainee groundworker, especially if you have some onsite experience in a similar role such as a labourer or plant operative. This would give you the opportunity to develop your skills, and your employer may provide training to help you progress to an experienced groundworker or senior groundworker. 

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a groundworker. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a groundworker include:

  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Basic numeracy skills
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Enthusiastic with a good work ethic
  • Working effectively as part of a team
  • Ability to follow instructions.


To become a groundworker, you could complete a:

  • Level 2 NVQ in Construction and Civil Engineering Operations
  • Level 2 Groundworker Apprenticeship

To become a groundworker, you could complete a:

  • SVQ at Level 5 Construction and Civil Engineering Operations

To become a groundworker, you could complete a:

  • Level 2 NVQ in Groundworking

What does a groundworker do?

As a groundworker you will be working as part of a team who carry out the very first, and often last, work on a construction site. A groundworker is responsible for carrying out a wide range of duties, including:

  • Clearing a construction site
  • Digging trenches for foundations
  • Setting up a site, putting up barriers, safety signs, huts, etc.
  • Following all health and safety procedures
  • Providing excavation support to other construction professionals
  • Interpreting the use of drawings and specifications
  • Laying pavements, kerbs and driveways
  • Concreting sites
  • Removing drainage and pipework systems
  • Operating plant machinery, such as excavators and dumper trucks
  • Preparing the ground/foundations to allow construction to begin
  • Redirecting waterways and connecting pipes with existing pipework.

How much could you earn as a groundworker?

The expected salary for a groundworker varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained groundworkers can earn £17,000 - £20,000
  • Trained groundworkers with some experience can earn £20,000 - £25,000
  • Senior groundworkers can earn £25,000 - £30,000+
  • Self-employed groundworkers set their own pay rates.

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.


* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest groundworker vacancies:  

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As a groundworker, you could build on your existing skillset by completing extra training and qualifications to specialise in a similar role, such as a plant operative, demolition operative or roadworker.

Alternatively, you could progress to a different role within construction, such as a bricklayer or carpenter.

With experience, you could become a site supervisor or construction manager.

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