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Highways maintenance operative

Highways maintenance operatives help ensure that roads, pavements and motorway networks are well maintained.

Average salary*




How to become a highways maintenance operative

There are no set qualifications that highways maintenance operatives need to have, although it is beneficial to have GCSE grades at A*- C in maths and English as this can help with the calculations, measurements and theory needed. 

Apprenticeships in highways maintenance are the most common entry route to this occupation and provide a formal two-year training programme to agreed national standards.

If you have a minimum of five years’ experience and do not need any further training or construction qualifications, you may wish to take the Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA).

This combines the key criteria of the NVQ into one practical assessment, together with work-based evidence and employer endorsement, which must be completed within a specified time. Alternatively you may wish to consider On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT).

What does a highways maintenance operative do?

  • Operating, maintaining and transporting construction equipment
  • Removing unsafe obstacles such as rocks and fixing guardrails
  • Warning and directing traffic during repair operations
  • Operating, maintaining and transporting construction equipment and supplies
  • Using a wide range of tools alongsidean excellent knowledge of health and safety regulations
  • Installing a variety of specialist surface treatments to improve safety and provide decorative finishes
  • Maintaining road networks in winter. This requires major resources and therefore requires careful decision making
  • Doing very different tasks depending on the time of year. On major schemes, some of these activities may be carried out by private or specialist contractors where contracts are outsourced.
  • Driving machinery to sweep debris from surfaces and structures
  • Spreading sand, asphalt, gravel and clay to build and maintain surfaces
  • Cleaning and repairing drainage systems, bridges, tunnels and other structures
  • Installing and repairing guardrails, road lighting and other features
  • Performing roadside landscaping including clearing weeds and trimming trees
  • Painting traffic control lines
  • Applying oil to road surfaces
  • Inspecting equipment and materials to identify resolve defects
  • Highway maintenance operatives work around 37 hours a week, with the work mainly taking place outdoors and in all weather conditions


  • Newly trained highways maintenance operatives can earn in the region of £17,000 - £20,000
  • Trained with experience highways maintenance operatives can earn in the region of £20,000 - £30,000
  • Senior highways maintenance operatives can earn in the region of £30,000 - £40,000

Your construction salary will typically range depending on location and overtime. Self-employed highways maintenance operatives set their own pay rates.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Check out the latest Highways Maintenance Operative vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary. 

Check daily to see new opportunities as they are posted!

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Highways maintenance operative Ensure the roads, pavements & motorways are well maintained & conduct repair ope...
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  • Current role Construction team leader Take the next step in your career as an Occupational Supervisor. Work with new m...
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  • Current role Highways maintenance technician Be part of the team involved in inspecting roads & identifying safety issues. Fi...
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  • Current role Buyer As a buyer you'll be responsible for ensure that the necessary materials for eac...
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  • Current role Highways engineer Help maintain the thousands of roads across Britain & build new ones. View a ful...
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  • Current role Civil engineer Civil Engineers plan, design & manage large construction projects which could ra...
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  • Current role Quantity surveyor A quantity surveyor works out exactly how much a building costs to construct and...
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  • Current role Highways control manager As a Highways Control Manager, you'll be helping provide highway maintenance, st...
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  • Current role Senior manager Senior managers and heads of department are responsible for leading teams of peo...
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  • Current role Contracts manager During a construction project, the contracts manager overseas the contracts proc...
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  • Current role Commercial manager Responsible for the budget on large scale projects & creating new business winni...
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