Civil engineer

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Engineering consultant

Civil engineers design and manage construction projects, from bridges and buildings to transport links and sports stadiums.

Salary Range: £24,000 to £80,000

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How to become a civil engineer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
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University

You can do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in civil engineering.

Many universities specialise in particular areas of civil engineering, like:

  • structural engineering
  • environmental engineering
  • coastal engineering

Some courses include a work placement, which can be useful for making industry contacts to help find work after you finish your studies.

You can apply for a postgraduate master’s award in civil engineering if you’ve got a related degree like maths, science or geology.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including maths and a science for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

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College

You can take a higher national certificate (HNC) or diploma (HND) at college, which may help you to find work as a trainee engineer. You’ll do further training on the job to qualify.

Subjects include:

  • Level 4 HNC in Civil Engineering
  • Level 5 HND in Construction and the Built Environment

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a higher national certificate or higher national diploma

More information

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Apprenticeship

You could complete a civil engineer degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More information

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Work

You could start as a civil engineering technician and study part time for a degree while you work.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Institution of Civil Engineers for professional development opportunities.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a civil engineer from the Institution of Civil Engineers and Tomorrow’s Engineers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of building and construction
  • design skills and knowledge
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • knowledge of English language
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Depending on your specialism, you could be:

  • planning with the client
  • analysing surveys, testing and mapping data using computer modelling software
  • creating blueprints using computer aided design (CAD)
  • judging if projects are worth doing by looking at costs, time and labour
  • 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

Working environment

You could work on a construction site or in an office.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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Career path and progression

With incorporated or chartered engineer status, you could move into senior project management roles. You could also specialise in a particular engineering field, work in research or become a consultant. You could work overseas with British consulting firms, and for oil and mining companies.

You could also work for international development and disaster relief agencies.