what is a civil engineer?

Civil engineers plan, design and oversee construction projects and infrastructures such as roads, railways, airports, bridges, power and water stations. Civil engineers can be broken down into two categories,  consulting engineers and contracting engineers. 

consulting engineers.

Consultant engineers are usually based in an office and are responsible for the design of projects. Consultants tend to work on multiple projects at a time and unlike contracting, engineers have regular working hours and regular commutes, unlike contracting engineers. 

contracting engineers.

Contractors take the consultants designs and implement them during construction. They will also work onsite to manage the construction of the structure, however, because of this working hours can vary and can often result in very long working days. 

qualifications needed to be a civil engineer.

There are multiple routes into a civil engineer career, for both a university graduate and school leavers. 

Graduates will need a degree in civil engineering that is accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineering (ICE). You will then need to work towards one of two professionally recognised qualifications. Once you have completed your BEng you can gain an incorporated engineer (IEng) status. Or if you complete either an MEng or a BEng plus masters you can acquire the chartered engineer (CEng) status. Both statuses will help in career progression, however chartered engineers are more highly sought after by employers. 

It is recommended that for especially graduate engineers, to gain work experience which will greatly help your career. Some employers will offer sponsorships and jobs to students that have impressed them during their work-experience. 


key skills for civil engineers.

To become a civil engineer here are some of the top skills and qualities that you need to stand out from the competition: 

  • management skills
  • analytical thinking
  • technical skills
  • written and verbal communication skills
  • critical thinking
  • leadership skills
  • creative mind
  • negotiation skills
  • attention to detail
  • good time management
  • commercial awareness 

salary expectations for civil engineers.

Civil engineers' salaries vary on location, qualifications, experience and whether you are a consultant or contracting engineer. 

Junior engineer salaries start from £20,000-£23,000 and can progress to £26,000 with two years experience. Those who are not a member of ICE will usually have an average salary of around £30,000. However, chartered engineers can earn up to £50,000. 

Most employers also provide additional benefits such as a pension, healthcare, life insurance and a company car and phone.