Civil Engineers

  | James Innes

A Career as a Civil Engineer


There are many specialist disciplines that fall under the general banner of Civil Engineering including structural, geotechnical, maritime, environmental, transportation and hydraulics.  Civil Engineers work on bridges, buildings, oil platforms, pipelines, roads, railways, water supply networks, sea defences and construction foundations among many others.  It is possible to work in a generalist civil engineering role gaining experience in a wide range of fields, or to specialise in one area.

The general role of a Civil Engineer is project management with involvement in the planning, design and construction phases.  It involves working closely with clients and other specialists such as architects and building contractors, and using a range of computer software for modelling and design purposes.  Civil Engineers complete feasibility studies for projects and are responsible for ensuring the most effective and efficient utilisation of materials, equipment and labour.  There is also a responsibility for assessing the potential impact of a project on the environment and for managing each project in accordance with health and safety legislation.  They will liaise with the client throughout the project to update them on progress and will also resolve any issues that may arise to ensure that budgets and deadlines are achieved.

A Civil Engineer is required to be well organised with excellent skills in mathematics and problem solving, together with the ability to visualise a completed project from technical drawings and other plans.  They should be experienced in budget management and capable of directing the activities of a multi-disciplined team of staff.  They will also be required to travel to the site on a regular basis.

Entry requirements

Civil Engineers generally require degree and postgraduate qualifications in Civil Engineering although it is also possible to specialise in a specific engineering discipline.  Apprenticeship programs are available for graduates to provide them with the necessary professional experience.  Gaining professional accreditation as an Incorporated or Chartered Civil Engineer with the Engineering Council is the most effective way of progressing within the industry and this is achieved through both academic qualification and the demonstration of professional competence.  It is also essential to be able to demonstrate an understanding of the UK Standards for Professional Engineering Competence (UK-SPEC).

Progression opportunities

Qualified Civil Engineers can find employment within a variety of organisations including local authorities and building contractors.  Others prefer to work in specialist consulting firms or with international organisations in the oil or mining industries.  Promotion to senior level is very much dependent upon the achievement of professional accreditation and the salary is very reasonable.  There are many overseas opportunities available in this field and it is possible to diversify into a generalist project management role based on transferable skills and experiences.

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