Road Surfacing Operative

Surfacing and resurfacing vast stretches of the public and privately owned highway network.


In this multi-disciplined role, you are critical to the country’s infrastructure.

As a Road Surfacing Operative (RSO), you are responsible for the surfacing, resurfacing and improvement of vast stretches of the public and privately owned highway network, covering all road types from motorways to residential streets.

RSOs work in a wide range of different environments and will spend most of their time outside.

You’ll will work as part of a team, known as a gang, of between eight and 14 people directed by a foreman and/or supervisor. 

You will perform multiple roles within the gang including machine driver, machine operator, roller driver, rake hand, planer driver, and planer operator. As well as being an excellent team player, you must develop a safety-first attitude, learn how to carry out works without risk to you, others or the environment.

You must also be adaptable, prepared for outdoor working and a variety of shift patterns in order to minimise disruption to the road user and travelling public.

Employers of all sizes exist within this industry, from small enterprises running a single gang to multi-national organisations involved in operations across numerous countries and continents.

Top 5 Tasks

  1. Work well within a team in all weathers
  2. Operate a wide range of specialist plant machinery
  3. Remove old/existing surfaces using a mechanical breakup process
  4. Resurface prepared areas using a range of road surfacing machinery 
  5. Test the new surface.


The average UK salary for a Road Surfacing Operative is £30,700.

Salaries depend on location, employer and level of responsibility.

Am I Suited?

  • Team player
  • Hands-on
  • Loves machines
  • Love the outdoors
  • Excellent communicator
Approximately 20 million tonnes of asphalt is laid each year by RSOs.


Depends on employer, but likely GCSEs or equivalent qualifications or experience, particularly where practical or technical skills are demonstrated will be needed.

Training is typically provided on-the-job. All sites are required to have a ‘trained operative’ registered with the Street Workers Qualification Register. Trained operatives are required to attend accredited assessment centres. NVQs/SVQs in Highway Maintenance and Road Building are available at Levels 1 and 2.

Vacancies / Apprenticeships

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