As the construction industry incorporates greater digital innovation and embraces modern design processes, the need for specialist workers is set to rise. We’re taking a look at careers in BIM, to find out why these roles are growing in importance and what they involve.
What is BIM?
BIM, or building information modelling, is a process in which intelligent 3D digital models and objects are created to help architects, engineers and other construction professionals plan, design and construct buildings (and other infrastructure) in an efficient way.
BIM models simulate a finished design, so they can give a valuable insight into building functionality and the logistics needed to build a structure ahead of time.
BIM designers create realistic visualisations that can be seen as section, elevation and sheet views, allowing contractors and clients to gain an impression of the overall effect before signing off on a project.
How is BIM used in construction?
Architects, engineers and construction professionals (AEC) increasingly use BIM to help them collaboratively plan and construct builds more effectively.
Using BIM technology, buildings can be modelled according to different build phases as well as the finished product. This functional data allows work to be assigned and scheduled more easily amongst a team.
3D visual models include important data about the specifications of a structure’s design, such as accurate measurements, materials, notes on the relationships between component parts and more. This provides benefits by improving document management and streamlining construction processes.
BIM also allows models to be tested and reviewed so that changes can be made to a design before it’s built.
Realistic visualisations can help to determine important information ahead of time, such as the building’s energy efficiency, its ability to withstand strong winds and future maintenance requirements. These accurate predictions reduce risks, improve timelines, save costs and lead to better outcomes overall.
Necessary changes can be made digitally, and new models can be created using different components or building processes, to make sure a structure is fit for purpose and safe.
What roles are available in BIM?
As BIM is used more frequently in modern construction projects, new types of roles are emerging in the sector. Roles for people experienced in using BIM now include:
- BIM coordinator
- BIM technician
- BIM manager
- BIM project manager
- BIM engineer
- BIM designer
- BIM architect
- BIM director
- BIM mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) coordinator.
Roles requiring BIM expertise are increasingly sought after. Let’s look in more detail at the most common BIM roles:
Average salary: £20,000 - £50,000
BIM coordinators and technicians take information from a series of detailed plans and, using computer-aided design (CAD), incorporate them into a single, 3D computer model. This accurate model can be used as a basis for planning, building and maintaining a structure.
Average salary: £30,000 - £70,000
BIM managers act as intermediaries between other construction professionals, working with architects, designers, engineers and clients to gather specifications and oversee the creation of detailed structural plans.
What skills and qualifications do you need for a role in BIM?
What does it take to have a career in BIM? Whilst you don’t need to go to university to get a foot in the door, you could start out by studying for a degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) in a relevant subject such as:
- Architecture or architectural technology
- Civil engineering
- Product design.
Alternatively, you could study for a Level 2 certificate in CAD (computer-aided design) and Manufacturing, or a Level 3 Diploma in Design and Draughting.
You can also prepare for a BIM career by completing an apprenticeship and training on the job. Intermediate or advanced apprenticeships in engineering or construction could be a good place to start. Just make sure you get a chance to learn CAD design whilst training!
Whichever route you go down, to have a successful career in BIM you will need to be able to use design software such as Autodesk BIM 360, Revit, Microstation or AutoCAD Civil 3D.
What is the future of BIM?
So, why choose a role in BIM? The future of the sector is looking bright, as more construction companies adopt this technology and promote digital careers in construction to help them save time and money and work in a more connected way.
More skilled professionals will be needed to fill vacancies and help construction teams innovate using digital technologies as Construction 4.0 becomes more widespread and firms make greater use of augmented and virtual reality, laser scanning and robotics.
Use of BIM is already becoming standardised. In fact, in many European countries, the technology is now mandatory on large projects. This is likely to set a precedent and continue around the globe, transforming the future of BIM in exciting new ways.