Civil engineers design and create the world we see around us. Their work is evident in a wide range of man-made structures, which include and not limited to buildings, bridges, roads, dams and canals.
Just like every other engineering discipline, civil engineering is a science, and its core values are built upon mathematical and scienctific principles. Therefore, if you love maths and other science related subjects, and you are interested in pursuing a career in engineering, then civil engineering could be your career choice.
1. What Do Civil Engineers Do?
Civil engineers are trained to create infrastructures to solve some of the greatest challenges faced by the society. Usually, they create structures that can withstand external forces, such as forces of nature, which can be quite challenging. They are creative thinkers and problem solvers. Some of their tasks include:
- Design and construction of building infrastructures, which are fit for service and can withstand even the worst loading conditions.
- Design and construction of road networks, for easy mobility from one part of the country to another part.
- Design and construct airport facilities.
- Research and investigations of earth materials and their properties.
- Design and construction of next generation bridges that can span several miles and distances.
- Design coastal infrastructures for the sea port and waterways.
- Design and construct rail networks, for improved transportation systems.
- Design and constructions of high retaining walls structures and foundations.
- Use Computer Aided Design software’s for drafting purposes, as well as to create working drawings for projects.
- Conduct Site work and supervision during ongoing projects.
- Prepare, progress reports at different stages of a project.
2. Work Environment
Civil engineers typically work in an office environment, though they have to make frequent visit to construction sites, so as to supervise ongoing projects or to carry out investigations on existing site conditions.
When there is an ongoing mega construction project, civil engineers might have to spend most of their time on the construction site. It’s also very common for them to work late nights and maintain irregular working hours, so as to meet project deadlines.
According to usnews.com, Civil Engineers in the US earned an average annual salary of $80,770 in 2013.
4. Entry Requirements
All civil engineers and those aspiring, require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree (B.sc) in civil engineering as an entry point. However, some positions might require a master’s degree in engineering (M.sc). In addition, civil engineers typically need several years of experience practicing, before they can be given a specific role to play, either in design office environment or on a site construction project.
A Bachelor’s degree covers some of the following areas of civil engineering:
- Structural engineering: Structural designs and detailing.
- Transportation Engineering: Highway and airport designs.
- Geotechnical Engineering: Foundation designs and soil investigations.
- Environmental Engineering: Waste management, climate change and analysis.
- Hydraulics/Hydrology: Water management and distribution systems.
- Coastal Engineering: Land reclamation, flood and erosion control, and coastal defence.
Some Institutions/colleges offering this degree include:
5. Important Qualities
These are a few qualities of an effective civil engineer:
- Creative and Innovative thinking.
- Ability to interpret complex civil data.
- Good communication skills.
- Good organization and Project management skills.
- Good decision making & risk management skills.
- Good research/investigation skills.
- Skilled in various CAD application.
- Good research skills.
- Good design and drafting skills.
- Good team work skills.
- Good Analysis skills.
6. Career Advancement
As a civil engineer, you need to embark on taking your career to the next level. The most logical career step is to earn your master’s degree with a specialization in one core area of the civil engineering discipline, such as master’s in structural engineering, master’s in transportation engineering. Most institutions that offer bachelor’s degree, usually offer master’s degree as well.
To take your career to a much more advanced level, then, you need to consider taking an advanced postgraduate research degree (Ph.D.)
7. Job Opportunities
Employers of civil engineers include:
- Private Sector
- Consulting Firms
- Design Firms
- Oil and Gas sector
- Government or Public sector
- Civil and Infrastructure department
- Telecommunication sector
- Water Corporation department.
- Urban and regional planning department.
Being a civil engineer is a diverse and rewarding career. If you are interested in the engineering field becoming, a civil engineers may be the pefect career choice for you!