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Diamond drilling and sawing operatives have one of the most highly-skilled and specialist construction jobs – cutting through the toughest materials on a building site.

Average salaries are in the region of £10,000.00 to £22,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

Diamond drilling and sawing operatives have one of the most highly-skilled and specialist construction jobs – cutting through the toughest materials on a building site.

What they do

Members of this specialist industry get stuck into a huge range of tasks including:

  • drilling
  • floor sawing
  • bursting
  • crushing
  • wire sawing in concrete and masonry materials

Diamond drilling and sawing operatives are high in demand due to the wide range of skills they have. They could be drilling into concrete walls or floors one day and sawing door or window openings the next.

Working in construction in these roles involves using machinery, careful planning, and high levels of safety. Holes are created in existing brickwork and concrete floor slabs (among other things) so that pipes and services like electric can go in. Some machinery used can even be controlled remotely. 

Floor sawing

This is the most common diamond cutting method, normally done on flat surfaces (floors, pavements). Floor (or slab) saws have a diamond blade mounted on the machine that the operative walks behind. This saw is useful for construction jobs such as removing damaged pavement sections.

Hand sawing

This is where diamond blades are used in hand-held power saws and chain-type saws. This piece of kit is quick and portable, used on building and demolition sites, and used in tasks such as sawing concrete pipes to length.

Wire sawing is used for very thick concrete. It’s used for removing large sections of heavily reinforced concrete such as towers and bridge sections, or for cutting concrete in areas where there is limited space.


  • Newly trained diamond drilling operatives can earn in the region of £10,000 - £15,000
  • Trained with experience diamond drilling operatives can earn in the region of £15,000 - £25,000
  • Senior, chartered or master diamond drilling operatives can earn in the region of £25,000 - £30,000

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


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You can also take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

Every day we go the office and get the brief (instructions) for the construction site we’re going to work on. When you arrive on site you speak to the site manager, plumber or engineer to see what needs diamond drilling or cutting and why it needs cutting.

We do a health and safety assessment to make sure we’re working safely and work out how much time it will take and if the task can be done there and then or if we need to come back another day. We then update the office on how long the job will take.

Ninety percent of the time we’re cutting through concrete, steel reinforced concrete. We work on lots of old buildings being refurbished. It’s best if we can start our diamond drilling as early as possibly on a construction project as we use heavy-duty machinery that can be noisy, so the earlier we start our work on a project the better. 

How did you get started?

The company I work for is a family business. It started as a partnership between my father and his colleague. I was looking for a temporary job after I graduated from university so I started working at my dad’s company part time and I enjoyed it so much I decided to stay on. I trained as a diamond drilling and sawing operative.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the challenges the job brings. Every day is different and every construction site or project is different. I also like the physical side of the job. It’s not easy but I like the exercise I get. You also meet different people on each construction site, which can be both challenging and enjoyable.

What skills do you need?

Being able to adapt to different situations is really important. You need to get along with the people you’re working for. You also need to be able to use your problem-solving skills to get the job done. Every task needs to be finished and you have to sometimes make decisions on the spot to be able to proceed.

Very often you can use your previous experience to advise on the best way forward or point out potential pitfalls that have not been considered. This is part of the ethos of our company. We work with the client to achieve the required result in the safest, most efficient and cost-effective way.

Proudest career moment?

I get a great deal of satisfaction when I offer my opinion on the way to solve a problem and it achieves the right result. I’m proud of gaining my NVQ 2 in Diamond Drilling and Sawing and look forward to gaining further qualifications.

Where is your career heading next?

I expect to step into my father’s shoes and take a hand in the running of the company.

Advice on how to get into construction?

For diamond drilling and sawing, if you’ve got a day’s hard work in you then I would say join the industry. You do need to be motivated and willing to put in the hard work and effort. You will get a great deal of job satisfaction working in a dynamic industry.

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

Qualifications & Training

There are no set qualifications that diamond drilling and sawing operatives need, but it helps to have grades at A*-C in maths and English or equivalents such as the Welsh Baccalaureate or Scottish Nationals 4/5.

An NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Drilling and Sawing can be achieved by completing the Drilling and Sawing Apprenticeship, a formal two-year training programme.

If you have a minimum of five years’ experience you can take the Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA). This combines the key parts of the SVQ/NVQ into one practical assessment, together with work-based evidence and employer endorsement. Alternatively you can do On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT).

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 


Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 


Simply Hired

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

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

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