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Clerk of Works

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Clerk of Works

The Work

As a clerk of works, or site inspector, you would oversee the quality and safety of work on a construction site, making sure that building plans are being followed correctly.

Your duties would include:

  • performing regular inspections of the work on site
  • measuring and sampling building materials to check their quality
  • recording results either on paper or a hand-held PDA
  • identifying defects and suggesting ways to correct them
  • liaising with other construction staff, such as contractors, engineers and surveyors
  • monitoring and reporting progress to construction managers and clients.

You may also be responsible for supervising the workforce on the building site during a project.

Hours and Environment

You would normally make site inspections Monday to Friday, working between 35 and 40 hours a week. You may have to work weekends or evenings in order to meet project deadlines.

You would have a site office, but you would spend most of your time outside on site. You could be making inspections at heights from scaffolding or ladders, or underground, for example, in tunnel construction.

You may be based at one site for the duration of a building project, or travel between sites to carry out inspections and meet contractors. Some jobs may require overnight stays away from home.

Skills and Interests

  • the ability to pay close attention to detail
  • an in-depth knowledge of the construction industry
  • a sound knowledge of Building Regulations
  • good organisational and project management skills
  • good problem-solving skills
  • excellent communication and negotiating skills
  • good written communication skills
  • the ability to liaise with staff at all levels
  • a good level of fitness and a head for heights
  • the ability to meet targets.


You would usually become a clerk of works after gaining experience in the construction or engineering industries, at craft or technician level.

You could look for work as a trainee after taking a BTEC HNC/HND, foundation degree or degree in construction or engineering, and work your way up. To search for colleges and universities offering these courses, visit the UCAS website.

Employers may insist that you hold membership of the Institute of Clerks of Works of Great Britain (ICWGB), which is the recognised industry body for this area of work. See the further training section below for more details.

To find out more about this career, visit the ConstructionSkills website.


Once you are working, you could take qualifications like the Site Inspection NVQ at levels 3 and 4. The NVQ contains units in:

  • monitoring contract, quality and progress
  • health and safety
  • managing the performance of teams and individuals.

You could help your career prospects by becoming a member the ICWGB at a grade that matches your level of experience. The ICWGB also offers Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses which are recognised worldwide and are increasingly in demand by employers. You can find out more by visiting the ICWGB website.

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Many building contractors now insist that you have a relevant CSCS card to gain access to their sites. The card is proof of your skills and competence. As an ICWGB member, you could choose a card that matches your level of membership. See the CSCS website for more information.


Typical employers include local authorities, the NHS and construction and engineering companies. You may also find vacancies with private companies specialising in consultancy work.

With experience, you could progress to overall site management and general construction management. Another option would be to set up your own site inspection business.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading (links open in a new window):

ICWGB (jobs page)

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • A clerk of works can earn between 21,000 and 40,000 year.
  • With substantial experience, this can rise to around 50,000 or higher, depending on the contract.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information


If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.


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