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Civil engineer

Engineering consultant

Civil engineers plan, design and manage large construction projects. This could include bridges, buildings, transport links and other major structures. They use computer modelling software and data from surveys, tests and maps to create project blueprints. These plans advise contractors on the best course of action and help minimise environmental impact and risk.

Average salary*

£20000

-

£80000

Typical hours per week

40 - 42

How to become a civil engineer

There are several routes to becoming a civil engineer. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a university or college course or you could apply for a civil engineering apprenticeship. If you already have relevant skills or experience you may be able to apply directly to an employer or train on the job. You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you.

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

University

You can become a civil engineer by enrolling on a four-year university degree course. Whilst studying, you could choose to specialise in a particular area, such as structural, environmental or coastal engineering.

You may be able to retrain as a civil engineer if you have a relevant undergraduate or postgraduate degree such as maths, geology or science.

You’ll generally need:

  • 3 A levels (including maths and physics), or equivalent (undergraduate degree)
  • A first degree in a relevant subject (postgraduate degree).

College/training provider

You may need to attend a specialist college or training provider to start your studies as a civil engineer.

You could complete a higher national certificate such as a Level 4 HNC in Civil Engineering, or a Level 5 HND in Construction and the Built Environment. After this, you may be able to work as a trainee engineer and do on-the-job training to qualify.

You’ll need 1 - 2 A levels (or equivalent) for these courses, including maths.

Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship with a construction firm is a good way into the industry. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will 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.

To do a civil engineering apprenticeship you’ll need:

  • 5 GCSEs (including English, maths and science) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent
  • A Levels, or equivalent (advanced apprenticeship).

The Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) list up to date apprenticeship opportunities on their website.

Work

You may be able to work as a civil engineering technician, whilst studying part-time to qualify as a civil engineer.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


What does a civil engineer do?

Civil engineers often specialise in one area, such as transportation (roads, airports, railways), environmental (flood barriers, turbines), geotechnical (mining and earthworks), maritime (ports and sea defences) or structural (dams, pipelines, offshore platforms).

As a civil engineer you could be:

  • Assisting with site investigations
  • Assessing the worth and potential risks of projects
  • Developing blueprints using computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Liaising with architects, subcontractors, consultants, co-workers and clients
  • Ensuring projects meeting legal requirements and health and safety standards
  • Resolving design and development problems
  • Managing budgets and other project resources
  • Attending public meetings to discuss projects
  • Using computer modelling software to analyse surveys and mapping data
  • Preparing project bids and reports
  • Assessing a project’s environmental impact and potential risk
  • Monitoring project progress and ensuring it meets legal and health and safety requirements
  • Working on-site in all weathers or in an office.


How much could you earn as a civil engineer?

  • Newly trained civil engineers can earn £20,000 - £40,000
  • Trained civil engineers with some experience can earn £40,000 - £60,000
  • Senior, chartered or master civil engineers can earn £60,000 - £80,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Salaries and career options improve with chartered status.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Jobs

Check out the latest civil 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

You could gain incorporated or chartered engineer status. This would help you progress into senior project management roles within construction companies and earn a higher salary.

You could also specialise in a particular field of engineering or aid research projects. You could become a self-employed consultant and set your own wage.

Civil engineers are needed by many international development agencies, so there is potential to work overseas.


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