civil engineer careers

Civil Engineer Jobs

Did you know?

Civil engineers are like SimCity but in real life. They plan and manage mega building projects – anything from airports to statement skyscrapers and entire new towns. If you want to be able to walk past a city attraction and tell your friend “I made that happen”, you could think about becoming a civil engineer.

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Civil engineer job trends

How much money can you make as a civil engineer?

£24,000 – £80,000 (UK average)

Recent labour market information says you can earn £24,000 – £80,000 a year on average as a civil engineer in the UK.

Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.

What entry qualifications and training do you need?

School, college and training

Many engineering jobs require some knowledge of science and being comfortable around maths.

In your GCSEs or the equivalent, aim to get passing grades of 9-4 (A*-C) in maths and at least one science.

You can then go on to take at least one A-level or further education qualification in a topic related to science or maths.

This will give you a good foundation education in the engineering principles you might need to know. It will also help you to apply for further education such as a degree.

Degrees and University

Many civil engineers enter the profession as graduates.

You’ll usually need an engineering degree (BEng) or a Master’s degree (MEng) in civil engineering.

Looking for an alternative route to full-time degree study after school? You could start working as a technician and study part-time for an HND or foundation degree, leading to a degree in engineering.

The Institution of Civil Engineers has information on courses.

You might be able to join a company’s graduate trainee scheme if you have a degree in a relevant subject.

Apprenticeships and training

With an apprenticeship (or advanced apprenticeship) you’ll have a paid job with an employer that includes structured training and learning. This training leads to an official qualification that’s recognised by employers as an industry standard.

You can seek out civil engineering apprenticeships with organisations like Find an Apprenticeship.

Career progression

With time and experience you could move into senior project management. To achieve this, you would typically need incorporated or chartered engineer status.

You could work overseas, for oil/mining companies and with British consulting firms.

You could specialise in a field of engineering that most interests you, becoming an expert in your field. You could also work in research, or strike out on your own and become a consultant once you’ve got some project successes under your belt.

What experience do you need for civil engineer jobs?

Work experience

It can help you decide if this is the right career for you if you have previously done work experience in an engineering environment.

Any work experience where you have demonstrated your engineering skills can help your application.

Examples of relevant work experience include:

  • Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
  • Work placements in a company
  • Work placements on a degree course
  • Year in Industry work experience programme for pre-university/undergraduates

Volunteering and extra-curricular activities

Volunteering is an excellent way to build up your skills and CV while making connections with people and organisations who could help you in the future.

If you’re aged 21 or under, you could build experience and skills relevant to engineering by becoming an Industrial Cadet. You’ll join other students from local schools to take part in industry based activities with a local employer. Visit www.industirialcadets.org.uk for more info.

If you’re a Year 12 student, you can apply for a Nuffield Research Placement. Over 1,000 students a year get the chance to work with scientists, mathematicians and engineers from all kinds of universities and organisations.

If you’re still at school, you can work on your engineering skills outside of lessons to build your first CV. One way is to join a school STEM club.

What skills do you need for civil engineer jobs?

What life and work skills do you need to make a great civil engineer?

Useful skills to highlight and develop in this career include:

  • Good problem solving skills and an enquiring mind – so much goes into planning out a new town or super-huge shopping space!
  • Good organisation skills – this will help you with your education and training, and also with conducting your work with accuracy and care. Part of your job will be to analyse lots of data, so an organised approach will really help with that.
  • Teamworking skills – you could work as part of an engineering team led by a senior engineer. You’ll have your part to play, and you will also be willing to receive guidance and direction while working well with others. As you progress in your career, you’ll also build leadership and project management skills.
  • Good communication skills – you will be able to explain your design ideas clearly. This could involve emails, meetings, and even presentations.
  • Good IT, science and maths skills – you may be using computer modelling and CAD (computer-aided design). You will also need to pay attention to measurements. No-one wants a skyscraper that looked huge in the design but ends up tiny in real life because of incorrect measurements.

Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.

Start building these skills right now – sign up for free Young Professional training.

What does a civil engineer do?

Knowing a little more about civil engineering will help you show employers that you understand what this job is about. It can also help you decide if it’s right for you.

Some areas of civil engineering you could work in:

  • Structural (dams, buildings, offshore platforms and pipelines)
  • Transportation (roads, railways, canals and airports)
  • Environmental (water supply networks, drainage and flood barriers)
  • Maritime (ports, harbours and sea defences)
  • Geotechnical (mining, earthworks and construction foundations)

Some things you might be doing:

  • Working with your client to create plans for a new project
  • Analysing surveys, testing and mapping data using computer modelling software
  • Creating blueprints with computer aided design (CAD)
  • Checking costs, time and labour to see if a project is worth doing and if it can be done on time for the right amount of money
  • Checking risks and the effects on the environment
  • Preparing bids for tenders, and reporting to clients and government agencies
  • Managing and checking progress at each stage
  • Making sure sites follow health and safety rules

Your first steps into civil engineer jobs

Civil engineer jobs are advertised under different job titles. To find jobs for young people in this role, search on job boards for opportunities with these words in the title:

  • Civil engineering apprenticeship
  • Civil engineering technician
  • Graduate civil engineer
  • Civil engineering graduate
  • Trainee civil engineer
  • Engineer civil graduate apprenticeship

Engineering/Manufacturing jobs you might like...

View job descriptions with average UK salary, useful qualifications and a variety of routes into this career. Or see our full list of careers in engineering and manufacturing!


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