Civil Engineer

As a civil engineer you will plan, design and manage construction projects.  These can range from the relatively small-scale, for example bridge repairs through to large national schemes, such as the building of a new stadium.  All civil engineers need a good understanding of design and construction processes as well as of health and safety issues.  The role could include leading teams of other engineers, perhaps from other organisations or firms.

Work Environment
Whilst predominantly office based, the work includes significant elements of outside work involving regular exposure to disagreeable or difficult surroundings/outside conditions, for example, regular site visits to construction sites.

Daily Activities

  • discussing requirements with the client and other professionals (e.g. architects); 
  • analysing survey, mapping and materials-testing data with computer modelling software; 
  • drawing up blueprints, using computer aided design (CAD) packages; 
  • managing change, as the client may change their mind about the design, and ensuring relevant parties are notified of changes in the project;
  • judging whether projects are workable by assessing materials, costs and time requirements; 
  • assessing the environmental impact and risks connected to projects; 
  • preparing bids for tenders, and reporting to clients, public agencies and planning bodies; 
  • managing, directing and monitoring progress during each phase of a project; 
  • monitoring the provision of materials; 
  • liaising with and directing the work of sub-contractors employed on the project
  • ensuring quality of workmanship; 
  • dealing with complaints from local people experiencing disruption due to building works;
  • making sure sites meet legal guidelines, and health and safety requirements.

Skills & Interests

  • excellent maths, science, and IT skills; 
  • the ability to explain design ideas and plans clearly;
  • the ability to analyse large amounts of data and assess solutions; 
  • confident decision-making ability;
  • excellent communication skills; 
  • negotiate effectively; 
  • utilise design and site construction experience to evaluate the technical input of others;
  • manage conflict to an acceptable resolution;
  • commitment to customer care;
  • project management skills;
  • the ability to work within budgets and to deadlines;
  • good team working skills.

Entry Requirements
Possession of a Degree in Civil Engineering or closely related subject and appropriate experience in a related discipline.  Alternatively, you could work your way up to become an engineer if you are already in the industry, for example, working as an engineering technician.  By studying part-time or on the job for a BTEC HNC/HND, foundation degree or degree, you could eventually qualify.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
Usually, you will start your professional life as a civil engineer on a graduate training scheme.  These schemes give you the chance to get involved in projects under the supervision of a mentor, and are designed to develop your technical knowledge and business skills. Over time, you would take on more responsibility.  Training schemes often last between one and two years.

You could help your career development by working towards incorporated or chartered status.  To do this, you should register with your professional industry body and apply to the Engineering Council.  The balancing of economic, social and environmental objectives, both now and into the future, has become known as sustainable development and this is increasingly a key driver for organisational change.

Further Information & Services
Civil Engineering Contractors Association
Institution of Civil Engineers

Careers Wales have produced Spotlight articles on careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths): and careers in construction: 

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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