Maths in construction – and other trades that count

If you’re considering a trade career, dropping maths is no big deal, right? Actaully, think again. Maths in construction is more important than you might think.

Trade careers are often associated with tools, trucks and physical labour, but there are plenty of advanced maths skills involved in practical, hands-on construction and maintenance roles.

From calculating quantities to determining floorspace ratios, tradespeople rely on their knowledge of numbers, with algebra, trigonometry and basic area skills just as important to a tradie’s toolkit as any fancy drill.

And the secret to getting skilled up? Sticking with maths in your final secondary school years – even if you don’t go to uni, let alone study for a maths degree, maths is needed in your future.


Eight trade careers that use maths

So, which trade pathways rely most heavily on numbers smarts? Here, we look at how maths is used in some of Australia’s most popular trades.

1. Builder

You could almost call builders mathematicians that make stuff – that’s how much adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying happens in an average day. Builders use fractions, percentages and decimals when working out things like room dimensions and load calculations – and if a measurement is off, so is their build.

2. Electrician

Ohm’s Law (voltage = current x resistance) is a go-to equation when studying electrical circuits, and trigonometry comes in handy when figuring out the correct angle to bend a section of protective tubing.

3. Tiler

Maths meets art and construction in this craft, which is literally all about being accurate, correct and symmetrical. Visualisation, spatial reasoning and geometric modelling along with an advanced understanding of the units, systems and processes of measurement are pretty standard prerequisites for the job.

4. Concreter

Figuring out how much mixture is needed for a pour may seem like simple multiplication, but for a concreter there are some seriously complex area and volume formulas that go into each and every job.

5. Plumber

From working out volumes of material, to calculating flow rates of gas and tackling basic accounting and invoicing, the 9 to 5 of a plumber includes a lot of measurements. Hot tip: listen up in geometry.

6. Painter

Like a problem straight out of your maths textbook, a painter regularly faces the challenge of calculating how much liquid (paint) will fit on a particular space (a wall), as well as understanding ratios to get the perfect mix.

7. Site manager

Next-gen site managers often take on the admin side of a build, relying on specialised inventory management software to take stock levels, produce reports, update budgets and track third party pricing. Loads of addition, subtraction and money sense comes with the gig.

8. Roofer

Repair, maintenance and restoration roofers are among the tradies now employing drones to act as an extra set of eyes. Their real-time data-capturing capability – identifying things like heights and hazards – is a huge safety asset on-site, and requires solid numbers smarts to dissect and interpret.