What does a Civil Engineer do?
Civil engineers work on the planning, design,
construction and management of projects in a diverse
variety of fields. Civil engineering projects can range
from working on single fixed structures to local and
national infrastructure. Civil engineering is a broad term
encompassing several specialised engineering
disciplines. Some examples include:
- Structural –
bridges, dams, buildings, offshore platforms and
- Transportation – roads, railways, tunnels
- Hydraulics – principally the movement or
diversion of water by channels, canals, water lifts and
- Environmental – public water supply
networks, irrigation, drainage, waste disposal and
- Maritime – ports, harbours and
- Geotechnical – soil mechanics,
earthworks and construction foundations.
Many of these disciplines overlap and an engineer
may work in general civil engineering, spanning several
of these areas or specialise in one particular type.
For all disciplines, typical duties involve:
- discussing specifications with the client and other
professionals such as architects, surveyors and building
- carrying out analysis of survey, mapping
or materials-testing data for drawing up plans and
blueprints, using computer modelling and design
- re-testing and modifying plans in light of
- carrying out feasibility studies for
projects, looking at materials, costs, time, labour,
environmental impact and risk assessment
bids for tenders, and reporting to clients, public agencies
and planning bodies
- managing, directing and
monitoring progress during each phase of the
- ensuring that projects adhere to legal
guidelines, and health and safety requirements.
Fully qualified professional engineers usually
hold incorporated or chartered status.
Chartered engineers are normally involved at a
strategic planning level, researching and developing new
designs, innovations and more efficient processes. They
are often project leaders and are responsible for teams
of incorporated engineers and technicians.
Incorporated engineers specialise in managing
the day-to-day process of applying current engineering
solutions in the most cost-effective manner. They often
hold key operational management roles.
What's the working environment like working as a Civil Engineer?
Civil engineers work both in offices and on site. When
draughting designs or compiling reports, they work in the
office from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Sitework can be in all weathers and involve extensive
travelling, sometimes overseas.
What does it take to become a Civil Engineer?
To be a civil engineer, you should:
excellent maths, science, and IT skills
- be able to
analyse complex problems and critically evaluate
- be able to visualise and explain theoretical
- have strong decision-making
- have excellent communication skills
- be able
to categorise, prioritise and plan effectively
- be able to
work within budgetary constraints
- have excellent
interpersonal and teamworking skills
- have a
comprehensive understanding of legal regulations.
Civil Engineer Career Opportunities
Opportunities are excellent for qualified engineers. Many
different types of organisations employ civil engineering
graduates, such as local authorities, building
contractors, power companies, environmental agencies
and specialist consulting firms.
also opportunities overseas with British firms of
consulting or contracting engineers working for foreign
governments, or with international oil and mining
Career progression often involves
moving in to more senior project management positions,
specialisation in particular fields or consultancy work.
If you would like to know anything about Civil Engineer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below. Institution of Civil Engineers
1 Great George Street
Tel: 020 7222 7722
www.ice.org.uk Institution of Structural Engineers
11 Upper Belgrave Street
Tel: 020 7235 4535
(Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road
Tel: 0808 100 3682
www.semta.org.uk Women into Science and Engineering
22 Old Queen Street
Tel: 020 7227 8421
www.wisecampaign.org.uk Engineering Training Council
20-24 York Street
Tel: 028 9032 9878
www.etcni.org.uk Engineering Council
10 Maltravers Street
Tel: 020 7240 7891
www.engc.org.uk The UK Standard for Professional Engineering Competence
Facts and Stats:
- Isambard Kingdom Brunel was only 5ft tall and wore a top hat to make himself look taller
Engineering generates more than 40 per cent of the UK¿s national wealth
The Box Hill tunnel, part of Brunel¿s Great Western Railway, took five years to dig and at two miles long was the longest tunnel in the world at the time