How to Become a Successful Civil Engineer

Civil Engineering Construction

From fresh running water to bridges, from pavements to the Olympic stadium — everything around us has in some way been influenced by civil engineering.

Employment in this field can really give you the opportunities to achieve what you want in life, offering both fantastic benefits and progression. If you’re interested in maths and physics, then the employment future of your dreams may just lie in civil engineering jobs, and construction estimators.

Learning the ropes

It is important to consider which pathway you take on your dream to becoming an engineer. You should plan for this from as early as your GCSEs and A Levels – where you should look to focus on mathematics and physics. There are other options, including becoming a civil engineering technician through a college BTEC course or apprenticeship. This will ultimately put you on the right path to becoming an officially accredited civil engineer.

In general, most civil engineers are required to have obtained a degree in civil engineering; the course usually takes between three and five years to complete. Among other disciplines, you’ll study design, mathematics, physics, project management as well as your desired top- up modules.

A degree, however, is only the first part of the process to becoming a professionally certified, chartered engineer. You must then complete a period of work experience as well as completing certain examinations. Certification varies between countries, which is something to bear in mind when deciding where you’d like to operate from. In the UK there are several places you can go to discuss work experience opportunities. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you either from approaching an employer directly to ask for an opportunity!

Many civil engineers choose to follow on from an undergraduate degree to a post-graduate degree which allows you to further specialise in your chosen field of interest.

Becoming an expert

There are many sub-disciplines of civil engineering which will give you the chance to work across a variety of disciplines or, alternatively, to build your expertise in a particular area. Earthquake, coastal environmental, transport, urban or structural engineering are just a few types of civil engineering that you may think about specialising in.

Within the field there are different types of employers, such as regional contractors, local authorities (such as councils), consultancies and private clients. Each employer will require different levels of experience and will often work across specific sectors. There’s a common link between local authorities in cities and the requirement for urban engineering, for instance.

What the future holds

Civil engineers can expect to earn anything up to £80,000 per year, with salaries generally starting around the £20,000 mark. You’ll spend time both on site and in-office maintaining projects from start to finish, making your workload both varied and challenging.

Civil engineering offers the scope to work abroad on an array of projects. Whether it’s structural engineering or providing the most basic of amenities, such as fresh water for locals, you’ll be able to find the opportunities of a lifetime to apply your skills overseas. You’ll be able to live the dream.