Site Manager vs Registered Builder: Which is Right For Me?

site management vs registered builders

Are you ready to further your career in building and construction but unsure of what’s right for you? Working in this industry is exciting and some of the most popular roles include site manager or registered builder. Employers are looking for site managers and builders with a combination of hard and soft skills, so ensuring you have the exact skill set needed when applying for these roles allows you to stay ahead of the competition and get the job.

In this article, we explore what site managers and builders do, the differences between them, and which one may be right for you.

What does a site manager do?

Site managers oversee and manage a construction project’s site requirements from start to finish. Site managers aren’t often on the tools themselves; they usually work directly on the worksites they manage.

They may:

  • Delegate tasks
  • Coordinate the build
  • Manage budgets
  • Develop and execute project plans
  • Advise on regulatory issues
  • Uphold the work health and safety (WHS) of the site

What skills do you need to be a site manager?

The top skills required to succeed in a career in site management are:

  • Project management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Problem-solving
  • Knowledge of WHS
  • Knowledge of specific building regulations
  • Budget management
  • Team and conflict management

How to become a site manager

A site manager is a senior role in construction, so becoming a site manager requires a combination of study and on-the-job experience. A great place to start is by acquiring a well-rounded qualification, such as a Certificate IV in Building & Construction (Site Management) (CPC40120). This is a perfect way to build a solid foundation of skills and start your career. An online site management course will also provide you with the flexibility you need to continue gaining experience on-site while you study.

You’ll study units designed to upskill you in planning building work, managing construction teams, and applying building codes and standards. These units will also help you harness and gain the skills needed to further your career in building and construction.

Upon completing the course, you will be well suited to a career involving any of the following roles:


What does a builder do?

A builder works on commercial and industrial projects to complete new builds, renovations and demolitions. Builders carry out specific tasks relating to the construction of buildings, including physical labour, operating machinery, and using tools. The day-to-day functions of a builder can vary depending on the nature and stage of the build.

What skills do I need to be a builder?

The top skills required to succeed as a registered builder are:

  • Strong physical ability
  • Uphold WHS standards of the site
  • Ability to confidently use a wide variety of tools, including forklifts
  • Communication and leadership
  • Problem-solving
  • Building and engineering knowledge
  • Mathematical literacy
  • Ability to use technology

Registered builder vs unregistered builder

Building professionals in Australia must be registered to work without significant restrictions. While working as an unregistered builder is technically possible, it limits and restricts your working capabilities greatly. Unregistered builders are only allowed to work on domestic projects under a value of $5,000, including labour and materials. Breaking these restrictions can result in prosecution.

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How to become a registered builder

Becoming a registered builder is an essential step in creating a successful building career. With registration, you can work on diverse projects and carry out multiple services with no restriction on the value of the project. For those wanting to start their own business, it’s a must. Even if you’re not ready to start your own business, it’s still worthwhile for every builder to obtain their license. You should be aware that license requirements vary by state.

Completing a qualification in building and construction is highly beneficial for those wanting a career as a registered builder. The Certificate IV in Building & Construction (Building) (CPC40120) will teach you the skills you need, including:

  • How to select, procure and store construction materials for building and construction projects
  • How to prepare simple building sketches and drawings
  • How to apply legal requirements to building and construction projects

Studying while working in the construction industry allows you to develop the hands-on skills necessary while you learn the technical and operational know-how through a self-paced qualification. Upskilling in your own time allows you the flexibility to earn a wage and grow your career simultaneously.

Career pathways for builders

A typical pathway for registered builders may look like the following:

  • Gain a role on a building site as a building assistant, building labourer, or junior carpenter
  • Complete a well-rounded qualification such as Certificate IV in Building & Construction (Building)
  • Continue gaining experience in the building industry
  • Apply for and receive your Builder’s License
  • Secure a role as a registered builder. Average salary: $59,000–$106,000

As your experience develops, there are opportunities to work your way up in rank – whether this is on-site or to start your own business. It’s not uncommon for builders to transition into construction management or site management after significant experience in the industry.

Site manager vs builder

The building and construction industry is one of the largest in the country. It generates over $360 billion in revenue – around 9% of Australia’s GDP. On top of this, most workers are either sole traders or small businesses. This means you will almost always be able to find work. The building and construction industry is projected to grow even further over the next five years, making it an ideal choice for those looking for a long-term career option with plenty of growth opportunities.

Whether you pursue a career in site management or believe becoming a registered builder is a better fit, you’ll find yourself challenged in your daily work and set on a stable career trajectory.

If you resonate with the off-the-tools lifestyle and role type of site manager, our Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Site Management) (CPC40120) is a good place to develop from.

On the other hand, if you align with the on-the-tools approach and feel better suited to a career as a builder, a Certificate IV in Building and Construction (Building) (CPC40120) can help you get there.


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