How to Become a Professional Civil Engineer

Civil Engineer

A Civil Engineer’s works can be seen everywhere, all you have to do is look around you. Not just the roads and bridges we travel on, but the buildings we live and work in, and the systems that bring us clean water and take away waste.

Civil Engineers also implement strategies that help us recover from disasters, energy solutions to power issues of the future, technologies for green buildings and sustainable living, and also develop new materials and sensors for smart infrastructure systems. In other words, civil engineers design the systems, technologies, and structures that prepare our modern world for growth, and make life better in our communities.

Civil engineers are problem solvers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and global leaders. They will invent the technologies of the future and create solutions to challenges we haven’t even imagined yet.

Responsibilities of a Civil Engineer

As a Civil Engineer, you will have to be responsible for;

  1. Conducting technical and feasibility studies to ascertain the viability of a project.
  2. Sourcing and procuring materials.
  3. Sourcing contractors, experts, and other professionals needed for the project.
  4. Resolving design and development problems.
  5. Managing budget and project resources.
  6. Evaluating the environmental impact of a project.
  7. Ensuring projects comply with legal specifications as well as health and safety requirements.
  8. Preparing reports and schedules.

A Civil Engineer holding a building plan

Skills required for a career in Civil Engineering

  1. Technical – To succeed as a Civil Engineer, you will need to have a thorough understanding of algebra, calculus, trigonometry, and geometry. You will be expected to have a solid understanding of subjects like mathematics and physics.

During your day to day operations, you will be expected to have the ability to read maps, review blueprints, sketch and interpret designs, and be able to use computer-aided design (CAD) software. As you prepare to develop soft skills like leadership and communication for a career in civil engineering, remember that these technical skills are essential to becoming a successful civil engineer.

  1. Project Management – As you progress in your career as a Civil Engineer, you will likely become either the manager of a team, project, or division. You will be expected to manage the different professionals working under your supervision, deal with delivery and scheduling issues with contractors and suppliers, and keep an eye out for inconsistencies, will ensure the project is completed on time and within budget to the client’s satisfaction.
  2. Communication – Seeing as you will be liaising with clients, workers, suppliers, etc, it is important to develop strong written and oral communication skills. A lack of effective communication on your part can cause disastrous effects not just on the project but can undermine your leadership standing within your team and cause mismanagement of the project. You must communicate issues, directions, requests, and suggestions clearly and succinctly, doing away with jargon when necessary, to get your point across.
  3. Critical Thinking – Civil Engineers routinely face different challenges when executing projects. Issues can range from minor misunderstandings to structural miscalculations. It will be your duty to approach problems logically to ascertain the appropriate solution and apply it effectively.
  4. Negotiation – As a routinely overlooked skill, having strong negotiation skills is essential to enjoying a successful career in Civil Engineering. Negotiation skills can help resolve conflicts within a team, get good deals with suppliers, and even secure profitable employment contracts for you and your team.
  5. Attention to Detail – As a civil engineer, you will be working largely with numbers and figures, utilising complex formulas and calculations in the course of your job. Having keen attention to detail will enable you to avoid costly mistakes and omissions that can hinder the execution of your project. Being attentive does not just help with the technical aspect of civil engineering, it can also help you navigate interactions between your team, clients, and others.
  6. Creative Thinking – Sometimes, you will encounter problems and roadblocks that figures and numbers can’t solve, this is where creative thinking comes into place. You must be able to think outside the box to find creative solutions to problems hindering the project or even creative ways of implementing certain requirements the client might have.
  7. Leadership – As a Civil Engineer, you will be in charge of managing and overseeing various professionals such as architects, machine operators, other engineers, etc, to execute the project successfully. You must be able to take charge of situations, build relationships and rapports with team members, and know when to discipline staff.

Specialisations available in civil Engineering

Depending on your area of interest, you may want to broaden your scope and pursue a specialization in line with your career goals or personal preference. Luckily, Civil Engineering offers several subdivisions you can choose from. Below are some specializations that might interest you;

  1. Environmental engineer – Environmental engineers use core engineering skills, marrying them with scientific fields of study like chemistry, biology, ecology, geology, hydraulics, hydrology, and microbiology to create ecologically friendly engineering solutions to environmental problems. You will need a deep understanding of the physical, chemical, and biological principles of the local, regional, and global environment to successfully pursue a career in Environmental Engineering. As an Environmental Engineer, you will be in charge of developing and executing solutions to problems such as waste management, conservation, recycling, air and water pollution, sustainable development, etc.
  1. Geotechnical Engineering – Geotechnical engineers investigate, monitor, and manage activities in the earth’s crust during the development of engineering projects. A career in Geotechnical engineering will involve you applying scientific methods and engineering principles to the acquisition, interpretation, and use of knowledge of materials of the Earth’s crust and earth materials for the solution of engineering problems and the design of engineering works. You will be typically involved with projects that can cause major changes to the physical environment. For example; the building of major highways, bridges, dams, tunnels, etc.
  2. Water Resources Engineering – As a Water Resource Engineer, you will be in charge of building, repairing, and maintaining structures, buildings, and infrastructures that control and regulate water resources. As a water engineer, your job can involve you making sure people are provided with clean drinking water, designing effective sewer systems, provide adequate protection from rising ocean levels, guarantee that water filtration, purifying, or recycling plants are operating optimally, etc.
  1. Transportation Engineering – Transportation Engineering involves the application of scientific principles and technical civil engineering methods to facilitate the design, implementation, operation, and maintenance of efficient transportation systems like railways, roadways, ports and harbours, airports, and pipelines. Transportation Engineers provide innovative and viable solutions to transportation issues all over the world.
  2. Structural Engineering – As a Structural Engineer, your job will be to ensure that the structures built can withstand the stresses and pressures imposed by use and the environment. You will calculate stability, strength, and rigidity, making sure the appropriate materials are used for each project, whether it is a new-build, conversion, or renovation. As a structural engineer, you could work on residential projects, shops and offices, bridges and offshore rigs, theatres, museums, and hospitals, or even space satellites. This specialization offers a wide array of job opportunities.

Educational Requirements for a career in Civil Engineering

To work as a Civil Engineer, you will first be required to hold either a bachelor of engineering degree or a bachelor of science degree from a reputable institution. A civil engineering education also provides a foundation to move into leadership positions in the public, private or non-profit sectors, or pursue careers beyond engineering, like law, medicine, business, and healthcare. Below are some Universities you can apply to;

  1. The University of New Brunswick, Canada – Established in 1785, UNB is Canada’s oldest English-language university. Its two main campuses are located in Fredericton and Saint John, New Brunswick. It also has satellite campuses and programs in other parts of Canada and around the world.

The University of New Brunswick’s Department of Civil Engineering has six areas of specialization, leading to careers in planning and managing infrastructure, supplying safe drinking water, identifying innovative materials that will last for decades, and much more. The university offers both Bachelor and Masters programs in Civil Engineering. Tuition for international students’ costs between $36,617 to $30,709 depending on the campus.

  1. The University of Southampton, United Kingdom – Currently among the top 20 UK universities, The University of Southampton is an award-winning research institution dedicated to providing a world-class education to its students. The university offers a 3-year Bachelor in Engineering (BEng) degree that provides a solid grounding in civil engineering design and application. We’ll give you the skills to design and build creative solutions to real-world challenges. You’ll develop the skills needed to become a successful engineer. Tuition for international students costs $28,000.
  2. Swansea University, United Kingdom – Civil Engineering at Swansea is ranked 10th in the UK by the Times Good University Guide 2020, and 3rd for Graduate Prospects by The Guardian University League Table 2020. They are one of the key centres for research and training in computational mechanics and engineering. Many techniques used in commercial simulation software originated in Swansea. Their civil engineering degrees are designed to prepare you to meet the needs of the civil engineering industry. Swansea University offers a Bachelor in Engineering program to be finished in 3 years (full time), 4 years (with on year abroad), or 4 years (with one year in the industry). The tuition cost for international students is $24,600.

Job Outlook for a Civil Engineer

According to fircroft.com, demand for civil engineers is expected to grow by 10.6% by 2026.

As global urbanisation continues, skilled Civil Engineers will be expected to repair and maintain our towns, cities, infrastructures, etc.

Typical Employers of Civil Engineer

  1. Construction companies (both consultants and contractors)
  2. Local authorities and government departments
  3. Rail companies
  4. Utility companies.

A femal Civil Engineer wearing a Protective head gear

Salary Estimates for Civil Engineers

  • According to indeed.com, civil engineers can make an estimated median salary of $86,000.
  • com estimates that Water Resource Engineers make between $55,000 and $96,000 a year, with the median salary being $67,000
  • Transportation Engineers make an average of $67,000 according to glassdoor.com
  • com estimates that you can expect to make an average of $66,000 as an entry-level Geotechnical Engineer
  • According to payscale.com, Structural Engineers make an average of $70,000 annually.

Post-graduate Options for Civil Engineers

There is great value in getting a post-graduate degree. Further education in both engineering and non-engineering courses can increase your value as a Civil Engineer and can position you for more senior and even leadership roles. The following are courses you can consider;

  1. Project Management MSc, Coventry University – Coventry University is a forward-looking, modern university with a proud tradition as a provider of high-quality education and a focus on applied research. This Master’s degree aims to prepare you to become a successful leader in the field of project management and currently holds academic accreditation from the Association for Project Management, the chartered body for the project management profession. This accreditation aims to provide you with the ability to operate at a level that meets the standards of the project management profession and the expertise required in the field. Tuition for international students is $21,386.
  2. MSc in Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham – Nottingham has consistently been ranked amongst the top universities in the UK. It is the fifth-largest university in the UK. The faculty of Engineering ranked 3rd in the UK for research power and 98% of their research judged as “international quality”, the university of is an excellent choice for expanding your knowledge in civil engineering. Tuition for international students at Nottingham University is $32,000.
  3. MSc in Construction Management, Loughborough University – A Top Tier, Top 10, TEF Gold Standard UK tertiary institution, Loughborough University has maintained its top-five ranking for a second successive year in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and remains the top university in the Midlands. Their MSc programme in Construction Management is designed to give candidates an upper hand in the professional world. The programme can be completed in 1 year (full-time) or 2-3 years (part-time). Tuition for international students is $30,000.

Careers Related to Civil Engineering

  1. Architect – Architects are professionals who utilise specialist construction knowledge to create designs for new construction projects, alterations and redevelopments, designing projects that are functional, safe, sustainable, and aesthetically pleasing. Architects often work hand in hand with Civil Engineers to bring their vision to life. To become an architect, you must complete a degree program in architecture, finish an internship, and then pass a board certification exam. According to thearchitectsguide.com, architects make an average salary of $79,000.
  2. Mechanical Engineer – Mechanical engineering, also referred to as the ‘mother’ branch of engineering, is one of the oldest branches of engineering. Mechanical engineers not only design new mechanical systems but they are also responsible for testing, maintaining, and manufacturing them. Payscale.com estimates the average yearly salary for a mechanical engineer to be around $71,000.
  1. Petroleum Engineer – A petroleum engineer specialises in the location, mining, and extraction of crude oil and natural gas. They design and develop methods for extracting hydrocarbons from the earth. The average for a petroleum engineer is anywhere between $78,000 to $240,000 a year. A degree in Petroleum Engineering is required to begin your career in the field.

 

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