At the Coalface | Construction Site Management Explained

Posted by Steve Thomas , Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada on Friday, March 25, 2022

The BNO visa scheme continues to encourage Site Engineers, Architects, Planning Engineers and Project Managers to consider exploring a career in UK. Coupled with the boom in infrastructure and building projects in UK, there has been an upsurge of construction professionals from Hong Kong arriving in the country looking to start an exciting new construction career path.

The team here at Maxim continues to receive daily applications from candidates seeking UK based employment in various construction industry sectors including construction site management. Typically, the site management of a project in UK will include engineers with increasing levels of experience and corresponding roles and responsibilities together with supervisory staff and Foremen.

The site management roles typically overlap and can sometimes confuse the uninitiated, particularly as job titles may differ from equivalent roles on Hong Kong construction sites. To facilitate which job role best matches a candidate’s experience and which one(s) they should apply for, we’ve prepared guide to UK site management roles with equivalent Hong Kong job titles in brackets:

Site Engineer (Project Engineer)

In UK, dependent on the years of experience, the Site Engineer reporting to the Section or Senior Engineer, has an important supervisory, organizational, and technical input to construction projects. He / she scrutinizes setting out and survey plans to mark their location out the site.  This fundamentally differs from the Project Engineer in Hong Kong who does not directly get involved with setting out or surveying, as this is taken care of by dedicated Surveyor.

The Site Engineer is also involved with health and safety matters, quality control, site security and supervision of materials as well as short term planning and some procurement. The Site Engineer will act as a technical adviser on the site to subcontractors and operatives and may liaise with local authorities to ensure compliance with local construction regulations and by-laws. Site Diaries recording ALL matters pertaining to the specific part of the project are kept on a daily basis by the Site Engineer, a critical activity for when something goes wrong! 

The Site Engineer is typically qualified to degree or diploma level with zero to 5 years’ experience.

The working week is typically 45 hours, (8am – 6pm with an hour for lunch), involving some early starts, late finishes and some weekend working to meet critical milestones.

Typical salaries range from £22k-£26k for a Graduate Site Engineer and £25k-£35k for those with more experience.

Section Engineer (Project Engineer)

Promoted from a Site Engineer, a Section Engineer, reporting to the Senior Engineer, typically functionally leads a team of Site Engineers or geographically manages a section of the project (external works, building envelope, facades, drainage). The Section Engineer is responsible for engineering matters related to specific part of the project including coordinating and supervising planning and site investigation works, Requests for Information, organizing site operations, temporary works installations, scheduling materials for ordering and producing detailed reports and providing technical advice and information.

The Section Engineer is typically qualified to degree or diploma level and is possibly nearing chartership with 3-7 years of experience.

Typical working week is similar at 45 hours plus the usual unpaid overtime as deadlines approach!

Typical salaries range from £35k-£45K+

Senior Engineer (Senior Project Engineer)

Promoted from Section Engineer, a Senior Engineer, reporting to the Site Agent, functionally leads a team of Section Engineers or geographically manages a significant section of the project site. The Senior Engineer is responsible for coordinating the design, including temporary works, construction methodology, programme and cost for their area of work usually assigned by the Construction Manager. The Senior Engineer manages, supervises, trains, and mentors the site team to optimize their output. He / she  co-ordinates with the Construction Manager, Quality Assurance and Quantity Surveyor teams and manages non-conformances and instructions received from the client, designer, client’s supervisory staff. The Senior Engineer is responsible to ensure that comprehensive records of resources employed are fastidiously maintained. The Senior Engineer reviews contractual agreements and develops detailed section specific programmes and forecast budgets and responsible for assessing programme and productivity achieved.

The Senior Engineer, sometimes called a Sub Agent, is typically qualified to degree or diploma level and is nearing chartership with 5-10 years of experience and sometimes more.

Typical working week is similar at 45 hours. Did we mention the usual unpaid overtime as deadlines approach?! 

Typical salaries range from £45-55K+

Site Agent (Site Manager /Assistant Project Manager)

The Site Agent is either academically qualified and is promoted through the ranks from Site Engineer, Senior Engineer etc. or alternatively the Site Agent can come from a trades background and be promoted that way. Either way, the Site Agent, reporting to the Construction Manager, acts as  ”Project Manager” for a section of the project (for example; the road section, the bridge section, the tunnel section, building section). He / she ensures that the work scope is sufficiently resourced, managed and directed from start to finish. The Site Agent will provide valuable input into the selection and hiring of subcontractors, the project programme, the health & Safety plan and the quality management plan.  He / she will provide critical input into the mitigation of risk on the project and serve as principal liaison between contractor and the client.

The Site Agent has 10 years plus of relevant experience.

Typical working week is similar at 45 hours++. Of course, there’s usually overtime….. as deadlines approach!! 

Typical salaries range from £55-65K+ 

Career Opportunities in Construction Site Management in UK

If your current role involves construction site management and you’re thinking about moving overseas to obtain that invaluable next step in your career and want some sound advice, please take a look at our current live vacancies and either apply for the most suitable one or submit your CV for more general review.  In particular, the following jobs are urgently seeking strong applicants:

Senior Engineer or Sub Agent job in London (MAX9371) - Maxim Recruitment

Site Agent Structures job in London (MAX9370) - Maxim Recruitment


Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas
Construction Recruitment Director, UK & Canada
Maxim Recruitment

Steve is responsible for Maxim Recruitment in the UK. He is based in the Maxim head office in Leicester, Leicestershire and regularly travels to meet employers, job seekers and to attend construction industry networking events all over the UK. With over 20 years' experience in construction and property recruitment he works with a number of repeat clients and engages in search and headhunting assignments for a range of premium UK and international clients.