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Civil engineers have the important role of planning, designing and managing construction projects. As a civil engineer you could work on virtually any construction project – including sports stadiums, office buildings and private homes.

Average salaries are in the region of £20,000.00 to £60,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

A civil engineer plans, designs and manages construction projects. They work on anything from buildings, dams and pipelines to roads, airports and water supply networks.

What they do

Civil engineers are the technical experts behind all the buildings and structures we see around us, so they need to be interested in designing and building things. They can choose to specialise in a particular area:

  • Structural (dams, buildings, offshore platforms and pipelines)
  • Transportation (roads, railways, canals and airports)
  • Environmental (water supply, drainage and flood barriers)
  • Maritime (ports, harbours and sea defenses)
  • Geotechnical (mining, earthworks and construction foundations)

Career progression

Graduate civil engineer is usually the title for a civil engineer’s first job out of university. They will have typically completed an undergraduate or masters degree in civil engineering. As a graduate civil engineer, your job will likely be a combination of office and on-site work,

After a number of years working in construction as a Civil Engineer, you could become a Senior or even a Principal Engineer. These roles normally require Chartership with the Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE), and are amongst the most senior jobs available in Civil Engineering, where you would specialise in a particular area of engineering. 

The working day:

  • Using computer modelling software to analyse data
  • Creating blueprints
  • Deciding if projects are feasible
  • Looking at environmental impact and risk
  • Preparing bids
  • Managing projects

Typical tasks include:

  • Assisting with site investigations
  • Developing detailed designs
  • Assessing the potential risks of specific projects
  • Communicating and liaising effectively with colleagues and architects, subcontractors, contracting civil engineers, consultants, co-workers and clients
  • Thinking both creatively and logically to resolve design and development problems
  • Managing budgets and other project resources
  • Managing change, as the client may change his or her mind about the design
  • Ensuring relevant parties are notified of changes in the project
  • Attending public meetings to discuss projects, especially in a senior role


  • Newly trained civil engineers can earn in the region of £20,000 - £40,000
  • Trained with experience civil engineers can earn in the region of £40,000 - £60,000
  • Senior, chartered or master civil engineers can earn in the region of £60,000 - £80,000

Salaries typically depend on location, employer and level of responsibility. Salaries and career options improve with chartered status. 

Find out which construction career is right for you by taking our Personality Quiz.

Explore all the different construction industry jobs available with our Roles In Construction Animation.

Case Study

Daniel - Civil Engineer|2:50
Bobby - Civil Engineer|1:11

Qualifications & Training

You usually need a three year Bachelor of Engineering degree or four year master's degree in civil engineering.

If you want to take up incorporated or chartered engineering jobs, these qualifications are important. You could also study other subjects related to construction engineering but it may take you longer to fully qualify.

To get on a degree course you need at least five GCSEs (grade A to C) and two or three A-levels, including Maths and a science subject (normally Physics).

For civil engineering jobs in Scotland, the entry requirements for a degree are usually 4-5 Highers. English, Maths and Physics may be required. More information about entry requirements in Scotland can be found at My World of Work.

If you already work in the industry as a technician, you could qualify as a civil engineer by studying part time for a BTEC HNC/HND, foundation degree or degree in civil engineering or through degree apprenticeships in construction.

To become a senior or principle civil engineer you will need to have worked on significant construction projects and for a number of years as a civil engineer. You will usually also need to have had completed an undergraduate degree and in some cases a master’s degree in civil engineering as well as have chartered status.

Many senior civil engineers will also gain further qualifications as they progress in their career, which is referred to as continuous personal development (CPD).

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 

Just Engineers



Career trends and forecasts

3980 additional staff needed

The UK construction industry needs an additional 3980 civil engineers every year from 2017 - 2021, according to the latest Construction Skills Network research (LMI). 

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Find out more about other roles in the construction industry and what they involve.

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