How to Become a Demolition Operative

Are you someone who enjoys working with your hands? Are you comfortable around various equipment, machinery, and tools? What about demolishing structures? If you answered 'yes' then you may be interested in a career as a demolition operative. 

In order to become a demolition operative, you need to be skilled. There's a lot involved when tearing down a building, so various skills are crucial. You not only need to be skilled, but you need to work well in a team environment. Communication is also key while working on a construction site.

Many find this highly skilled job fascinating. If you're intrigued by demolition, becoming a demolition operative will be a great career for you.  

If you're physically fit and do not mind heights, becoming a demolition operative may be a great choice. There's more to being a demolition operative than knocking walls down.

As a demolition operative you would conduct the following tasks.

  • Operation of tools; hammer drills, cutting equipment, heavy machinery, and explosives
  • Using industrial magnets to collect metal
  • Placing concrete slabs through crushers
  • If needed, can remove hazardous materials such as asbestos

There are three roles, each having unique tasks. The three roles and their tasks are as follows:


  • Preparing sites
  • Setting up rails and safety screens
  • Laying out dust-sheets
  • Separating re-usable materials found after demolition


  • All the same tasks as a labourer
  • Stripping fittings
  • Removing doors and windows
  • Disassemble roof structures


  • All of the tasks mentioned above
  • Cutting steel
  • Stripping fragile roofs
  • Instructing others during demolition practices

Although you may become a demolition operative without requiring much, most individuals will have experience in construction, as a labourer which is helpful. This is not only helpful in terms of knowledge, but being able to find work.

Contractors may ask you for GCSEs in math, English, and design/technology. You need to be at least 18 to be a demolition operative. If you are under 18 you may be trained as a construction plant operative. Entering an apprenticeship is a great option as well. You can find more information through the CITB website.

If you're working as a demolition operative, you may expect some or all of the following:

  • You would work a basic 39-hour week. There is also the possibility that you would work overtime and weekends. It depends on the demand. 
  • You will need to work in various weather conditions as it's an outdoor job. 
  • The job site will be very dirty and dusty, so protective clothing and eyewear should be worn.
  • You may need to deal with specific situations such as asbestos, this will require you to wear a breathing apparatus. You may also need to wear a harness if you're working up high. You should not be afraid of heights if you'd like a career in demolition. 
  • You will not be staying at a single location, travel is sometimes required. This may involve staying away from home for a night or two here and there. 

Level of Expertise



Approximately £12,500 per year

Once you achieve qualifications

Income can rise to £13,000-£18,000 per year

Experienced operatives

Approximately £23,000 per year

  • Once you begin your career as demolition operative, you will be trained in safety. This is where you'll learn about asbestos, lead, accident prevention, fire prevention, and demolition regulations.
  • You may work towards the NVQ level 2, which will allow you to; prepare work areas, demolish various materials, disassemble roofs, move loads, and operate machinery.
  • Although there are not many requirements, most demolition sites now require a Certificate of Demolition Operatives card. This card shows that you are qualified to do your job safely. There are seven levels in which you may achieve. These levels reflect how experienced you are, and will reflect what job tasks you can carry out.
  • If you have an questions about the card scheme you may contact the National Federation of Demolition Contractors. They will also be able to assist you regarding training courses. 

If you like what this career offers, then check out bconstructive. They offer tons of information regarding careers in construction, including how to become a demolition operative. You may also look into apprenticeship programs, which can be a great opportunity. 

If you believe you have a future as a demolition operative, take advantage of the resources available. Put your goal into action, taking all the necessary steps. You could be levelling structures in no time. 

Photo credit: Flickr