Civil engineering, one of the oldest and broadest branches of engineering, is mainly concerned with the design, creation and maintenance of infrastructure in the built and natural environments surrounding us. The discipline takes in railway lines, highways, tunnel and bridges, as well as water courses and sewage systems, coastal development and geotechnical engineering.
A career in civil engineering can be diverse and exciting, touching on everything from geology to surveying to risk management. It is a career in which you can play a role in improving people’s quality of life. It also offers the satisfaction of seeing a project through from initial concept to design and creation. On a day-to-day basis, as a civil engineer your responsibilities could include managing budgets, approving project drawings and reports, overseeing orders and delivery of equipment, taking care of any changes a client wants to make, resolving problems and ensuring that work is completed on time and within budget.
The employment rate for civil engineers is high, with jobs available in consulting or contracting engineering firms as well as construction companies. You could also find yourself based within local or central government. Civil engineering has historically been male-dominated. However, with more women entering the industry, that is changing. Civil engineers need to be innovative and creative in their thinking, and have the analytical skills to interpret often complex information.
Civil engineering requires leadership potential and the ability to work well with others in a team, displaying sound judgement at all times. Even small errors can have a big impact on a project, colleagues and the company as a whole, so precision and an eye for detail are crucial.A civil engineer must be persuasive in written and oral communication, and have a good grasp of science, maths and technology, relevant law and health and safety matters.
With project timescales often tight, the ability to meet deadlines is also important. With experience, you may become responsible for mentoring junior engineers and leading teams of other engineers. Civil engineering is a rewarding, diverse career and one that will always be required, even in the face of global economic difficulties.