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Highways engineer

Also known as -

Highways control manager

Highways engineers are responsible for ensuring that the thousands of miles of road across Britain are in good condition. There are three main branches of highway engineering: planning, research, and construction. Most highway engineers specialise in one of these areas.

Average salary*




How to become a highways engineer

There are several routes to becoming a highways engineer. You could complete a university degree or college course, an apprenticeship, or apply to an employer directly. 

You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


To become a highways engineer you could study for an undergraduate degree at university. Relevant subjects include:

  • Civil engineering
  • Structural engineering
  • Environmental engineering.

You’ll usually need 2 - 3 A levels, or equivalent.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.

College/training provider

You could study at a college to help you become a trainee highways engineer. Relevant courses include: 

  • Level 4 Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Civil Engineering
  • Level 5 Higher National Diploma (HND) in Construction and the Built Environment.

You’ll usually need 1 - 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a HNC or HND.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


You could complete a degree apprenticeship in civil engineering and then specialise to become a highways engineer

An apprenticeship with an engineering company is a good way into the industry.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you’ll be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


If you have experience as a highways maintenance technician or highways maintenance operative, you could apply directly to a specialist civil engineering company, or local authority, to gain onsite experience as a trainee highways engineer. You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced highways engineer and progress as your abilities improve.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a highways engineer. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a highways engineer include: 

  • Knowledge of engineering science, maths and technology
  • Knowledge of building and construction
  • Design skills 
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • Analytical thinking skills.


To become a highway engineer, you could complete a:

  • Level 4 NVQ in Highways and Maintenance Repair
  • Level 2 Apprenticeship in Highway Electrical Maintenance and Installation Operative
  • Level 3 Highways Electrician or Service Operative Apprenticeship
  • HNC/HND in Civil Engineering (Highways)
  • Degree in Civil Engineering

To become a highway engineer, you could complete a:

  • Graduate Apprenticeship at SCQF Level 8 and Level 11
  • Apprenticeship in Site Supervision Occupation (Highways Maintenance & Repair) Level 7
  • HNC/HND in Civil Engineering (Highways)
  • Degree in Civil Engineering

To become a highway engineer, you will need:

  • Minimum 2 A Levels at A*
  • Maths and English GCSE A*-C

you could complete a:

  • HNC/HND Civil Engineering (Highways)
  • Degree in Civil Engineering

What does a highways engineer do?

As a highways engineer you will be responsible for planning, designing, and supervising projects that keep road networks working efficiently. 

The job role of a highways engineer may involve the following duties: 

  • Designing local road schemes and maintaining the road network, including structures such as bridges
  • Working with other professionals to build and maintain roads
  • Finding new solutions to transport problems
  • Planning for highway maintenance and improvement projects 
  • Ensuring roads are kept clear and open in winter
  • Planning and supervising new projects
  • Preparing tender and contract documents
  • Managing construction teams and adhering to health and safety guidelines
  • Undertaking risk assessments
  • Dealing with stakeholders including clients, transport specialists and members of the public
  • Undertaking new road scheme designs to the highest appropriate technical standards
  • Assisting with the preparation of design resource estimates 
  • Estimating construction costs
  • Ensuring that projects are delivered on time and within budget.

How much could you earn as a highways engineer?

The expected salary for a highways engineer varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained highways engineers can earn £25,000 - £30,000
  • Trained highways engineers with some experience can earn £30,000 - £45,000
  • Senior highways engineers can earn in the region of £50,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest highways engineer vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As a highways engineer, you could progress to become a senior manager. Alternatively, you could set up as a self-employed project consultant.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Highways engineer Help maintain the thousands of roads across Britain & build new ones. View a ful...
    Read more
  • Current role Highways maintenance technician Be part of the team involved in inspecting roads & identifying safety issues. Fi...
    Read more
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