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A demolition operative dismantles old and derelict structures or buildings. They also dismantle fragile roofs and cladding, move and signal loads, prepare and clean work areas, and operate demolition plant machinery.

Average salaries are in the region of £10,000.00 to £25,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

A demolition operative dismantles old and derelict structures or buildings. They also dismantle fragile roofs and cladding, move and signal loads, prepare and clean work areas, and operate demolition plant machinery.

What they do

Demolition operatives work closely with demolition topmen, who prepare sites for demolition. They strip out fittings, remove doors and windows, dismantle roof structures, cut steel framework, strip off fragile roofs and instruct others on safe demolition practices.

They use hammer drills, oxyacetylene cutting equipment and plant machinery. They may also be involved in preparing a structure for explosive demolition. This construction job requires you to follow strict health and safety regulations at all times and receive training in the safe removal of hazardous materials like asbestos and toxic chemicals.

Career progression

After several years of experience working in construction, demolition operatives and topmen can progress to become demolition managers.  

A demolition manager (or engineer) is responsible for: 

  • Planning, overseeing and reviewing the demolition of buildings and structures
  • Managing the project team throughout the process
  • Advising on the work being done
  • Making sure health, safety and environment requirements are being met
  • Looking after the administration of contracts
  • Looking after the financial control 
  • Managing sub-contractor governance
  • Looking after the daily on-site management of other construction workers

This role involves working outdoors and in all conditions. It’s often dirty and dusty and is occasionally at height and may work longer hours over the summer months.


  • Newly trained demolition operatives can earn in the region of £10,000 - £20,000
  • Trained with experience demolition operatives can earn in the region of £20,000 - £30,000
  • Senior demolition operatives can earn in the region of £30,000 - £45,000

Salaries depend on location, employer and the amount of overtime worked. Self-employed demolition operatives set their own pay rates.


Learn more about construction jobs and construction apprenticeships – and some of the misconceptions surrounding them – with our Mythbusters.

Take our Personality Quiz and find out which construction career is right for you. 

Case Study

What made you choose a job in the construction industry? 

I grew up around plant equipment like diggers and rollers and used small excavators from a young age. A former boss offered me the job of working in construction as a demolition company.

What do you like about your job?

I like seeing the progression from the first stage of a rundown, disused building through to the completion.

What’s your working day like?

I do a variety of things such as soft stripping a building, manual demolition, asbestos removal and mechanical demolition.

What skills do you need in your job?

Safety awareness, spatial awareness and general knowledge of any other construction jobs you may be working alongside.

What was your background before starting this role?

I worked for two other demolition companies as well as for plant companies and in waste recycling.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Gaining my demolition plant qualification.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I would like to move abroad and work on projects overseas. I would particularly like to work on demolition projects following natural disasters.

Any advice on how to get into construction?

Always work safely and think about the project you are working on to get the right results and gain the experience you need to move forward.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which of the many careers in construction is right for you

Qualifications & Training

England & Wales

There are no set qualifications that you need to have studied at school, though it is helpful to have Standard Grades/National 4 or 5s or GCSEs in maths, English or technology or equivlent such as BTEC, Welsh Baccalaureate, WJEC in Construction.

You will need to be aged 18 or over to work on-site in demolition. It is helpful to get on-site experience first, perhaps as a labourer. Your employer may then be willing to train you in demolition.

A construction apprenticeship with a demolition firm is a common way to enter the field. To search for apprenticeship vacancies in your area, visit the government's vacancy matching site, or in Wales, Careers Wales


In Scotland, as a topman or topwoman you would be expected to have at least two years' experience, extensive knowledge of demolition, and completed the SVQ Level 2. You will need a Certificate of Competence for Demolition Operatives (CCDO) which is linked to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) to work on most sites. For more details visit SDS website My World of Work.

To become a demolition manager, you need to have all the relevant demolition operative qualifications, good IT literacy and a strong commitment to health and safety. You also need a number of years’ experience in demolition projects as an operative and in a supervisory role. Some demolition managers have a civil engineering background with a civil engineering degree.

You can also do further CPD and training by becoming a member of the Institute of Demolition (IDE).

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 


Job is Job

The number of jobs vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted.

Career trends and forecasts

55,480 total staff needed

There will be a total of 55,480 construction vacancies for specialist building operative roles (which includes demolition operatives) between 2017 until 2021, according to the latest Construction Skills Network research (LMI). The majority of the demand for these jobs in construction will be in East of England and East Midlands.

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