What do civil engineer jobs involve?
Civil engineers play a vital role, taking on the responsibility for designing and managing construction projects. Due to the nature of the role and wider industry, you could find yourself working on any number of different projects, from bridges and roads to private homes and commercial buildings.
Your duties and responsibilities may differ depending on the industry and project you’re working on, but can include performing site surveys and investigations, creating detailed plans and blueprints, liaising with clients and contractors, managing budgets and resources, ensuring health and safety protocols are met, preparing bids and more.
What is a civil engineer’s salary?
Your salary can vary depending on the sector, employer and scope of the project you’re working on. Entry level graduate civil engineers can usually expect to earn between £20,000 and £25,000 per year, while more experienced professionals can earn up to £40,000 per year.
As you progress through your career and move into senior roles, or gain chartered status, you can see your salary increase further, moving to between £60,000 and £80,000 per year.
These figures are intended as a guideline only.
What skills do I need?
As with other engineering roles, it’s important that you have excellent maths, science and IT skills. You’ll need good attention to detail and the ability to analyse large amounts of data. Communication skills, both written and verbal, are important, and you’ll need to be able to explain complex design plans clearly and simply to clients and contractors.
Problem solving skills are also key, as is the ability to work under pressure, ensuring deadlines are met and projects are kept within budget. You’ll need a good knowledge of any relevant legal and health and safety legislation, and the desire to keep this knowledge up-do-date. Finally, if you want to progress to higher levels in your career, negotiating and leadership skills are vital.
What qualifications do I need?
To become a civil engineer, you’ll usually be required to have either an undergraduate degree in Engineering, or a postgraduate master’s degree in Civil Engineering. It’s vital that whichever route you take, your degree is accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
Many people will decide to work towards incorporated or chartered status to progress their career. If this is something you’re planning to do, having one of the previously mentioned qualifications is important.
There are other routes available for those looking to enter the field. You could complete an undergraduate degree in a different subject, related to construction engineering, but it may take you longer to fully qualify if you’re working towards incorporated or chartered status.
If you’re going to be spending time on a construction site, you may need to apply for a relevant Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card.
What are the hours and conditions?
You can expect to work between 35 and 40 hours per week. Your usual working week will run from Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, although you may sometimes need to work evenings and weekends, as and when specific projects require it.
Your time will be split between an office and construction site, meaning there will be regular travel involved in your role.
For those willing to put in the time and effort, there are excellent opportunities for career progression as a civil engineer. Achieving incorporated or chartered engineer status is a great way of broadening your horizons, allowing you to move into more senior roles, such as project manager, or senior or principal engineer.
You could also opt to specialise in a specific field of engineering, or move into consultancy.
Areas of specialism
There are various exciting areas you can choose to specialise in as you move through your career, such as environmental engineering, water management, maritime civil engineering, earthquake engineering and more.
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