Highways maintenance operative

Highways maintenance operative

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

The Role

  • 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 £16,000 - £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.

Qualifications and Training

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).

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below


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!

Find out more

For information on the Highways Maintenance Operative role in Scotland please visit the Skills Development Scotland website My World of Work.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which role is right for you.

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