STUDENT LIFE / MAR. 09, 2015
version 3, draft 6

How to Qualify as a Civil Engineer in the U.K.


Becoming a civil engineer involves a lot of responsibility -- but it also involves the pride of knowing that you’re involved in important projects. Because the public’s health and safety can depend on the integrity of the buildings you build, the waterways you manage or the highways you construct, you’ll need significant training in order to become a civil engineer in the United Kingdom. Becoming an engineer at any level requires a head for mathematics and physics and a marked dedication toward a long-term goal.

You’ll have a number of options depending on your ultimate goals. In general, the more advanced your professional qualifications, the more you’ll be able to earn and the more credibility you’ll garner in your profession.

You have three paths available to you in the U.K.:

Qualifications for an Engineering Technician

The lowest-level engineer is the engineering technician, for which you’ll receive most of your training on the job. For this level, you’ll start out with a National Certificate or a Diploma, focusing on coursework in science and maths. Following that course of study, pursue an Apprenticeship with a qualifying engineering firm, which will give you the Initial Professional Development you need to become an engineering technician. Talk to your school’s careers adviser about helping you locate Apprenticeship programs or contact local engineering firms to inquire.

Qualifications for Incorporated Engineers

Incorporated engineers, meanwhile, are the mid-level engineering professionals. To become one, you have multiple options, including structured training as well as on-the-job training. You can either pursue an engineering-related degree at University or pursue structured professional training with an engineering firm after earning your Foundation Degree. After a period of work experience, you’ll be able to apply to become an Incorporated Engineer.

Qualifications for Chartered Engineers

The most prestigious engineering qualification is the Chartered Engineer status. To become one, you have to pursue a four-year, accredited MENg degree, pursue work experience, and then apply to become a Chartered Engineer. As a Chartered Engineer, you’ll have the prestige of being an upper-level manager or principal on projects, as well as a higher paycheck than the other options. 

Choosing the Right Career Path

During your A-levels, your adviser can help you determine whether you’d be best suited for a specific type of civil engineering, such as structural, transport, environmental or water resource civil engineering, for example. If you’re having a hard time trying to decide which path is right for you, seek job shadowing experiences through local engineering firms and ask lots of questions -- when appropriate, of course. Those experiences will give you a sense of the pay scale, workload and general satisfaction among the people working at the various levels of qualification in the civil engineering field. 

According to the UK’s Institution of Civil Engineers, civil engineers earn between £20,000 and £80,000 -- with the higher paychecks going to those who have qualified as Chartered Engineers.

Being a civil engineer can be an exciting and well-paying career -- but it also requires leadership, dedication and plenty of hard work in order to be successful.

Are you a Civil Engineer in the UK? How did you find the qualification process? Your thoughts and comments below please...



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