A career in construction could take you anywhere. You could be the one who gets to turn the outlandish designs of Zaha Hadid into a concrete reality, you could live in a beach hut while rebuilding a village ravaged by disaster or you could even launch your own business. The range of possibilities has never been so rich.

Now, for quantity surveyors, another choice has been added to the mix. For decades one of the biggest decisions a QS had to make was whether to join a partnership or a limited company – in other words, to shoot for becoming partner, which is risky but could mean huge financial gains, or a director, which is safer but often less lucrative. But in recent months two QS firms – Cyril Sweett and Baqus – have floated on the stock market and more look set to join them. Joining a listed firm can bring the most financial rewards of all. Our guide to the pros and cons of the different business models ('How to make your fortune quantity surveying') aims to help you work out which is best for you.

The other construction professions present an equally bewildering array of choices. Take the opportunities to work abroad, for instance. Whether you fancy living it up in tax-free luxury in Dubai or roughing it in an African village, it’s all possible if you work in construction. The tricky bit is balancing these once-in-a-lifetime experiences against the fantastic opportunities to get ahead fast in the UK.

Take Paul Beeston, whose hard work at Rider Levett Bucknall in Birmingham has meant he has become a partner at the age of 30 ('Should I stay or should I go?'). On the other hand, Murray Forsyth of Ramboll Whitbybird would not give up his experience of working in Sierra Leone for any promotion.

Then there is the option of changing your profession itself. If you are thinking of switching, be warned – the credit crunch has made it more difficult to change career paths, so you might need to act soon. A favourite move is the switch to project management – we look at why in 'Why (almost) everyone wants to be a project manager'. Another option is to branch out on your own entirely, which three friends did when they set up the fit-out firm Parkeray ('And if none of that appeals...').

For women in construction things aren’t always so straightforward. In 'What women want' we report on the UKRC, an organisation that helps women in male-dominated industries make life-changing career decisions.

Whether you crave incredible experiences, a new profession or a swift climb up the ranks, the next few pages should help you get exactly where you want to be in you career.

Roxane McMeeken, editor