Without civil engineers, roads wouldn’t be built nor buildings constructed nor dams and water treatment centers managed. It’s a big job that requires a high level of training and expertise – and some necessary skills to go along with it. If you aspire to be a civil engineer, here are some of the skills you’re going to need – or, at least, the ones you’re going to pick up during your education and training.
1. Mathematical skills
Civil engineers go through plenty of math classes during their training – and for good reason. In order to make structures safe, they need to tap their skills in trigonometry, calculus and even geometry.
2. Leadership skills
At the Professional Engineer (U.S.) level, a civil engineer will be overseeing the work of other, less experienced engineers. That will require the ability to inspire and motivate a team, as well as making corrections and managing teams of engineers, technicians and construction professionals.
3. Analytical skills
Civil engineering is not just about designing the best project; it’s also about planning and designing a project that comes in within a client’s budget. Civil engineers need analytical skills to be able to determine what materials will be most affordable and available for each project, and how changing one part of a project will affect the outcome.
4. Problem-solving skills
Engineers will also need those analytical skills to analyze the quality of other engineers’ work, and to decide whether a project is ready for the construction phase or whether it needs more work. They may also need to make on-the-spot decisions during the construction phase, when a design doesn’t go to plan.
5. Organizational skills
Civil engineers need to be organized and methodical to ensure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed in a construction project. Without strong organizational skills, the integrity of a project could be at risk – and that could put people’s lives at risk if a project should fail.
6. Speaking skills
Civil engineers don’t do their work in a vacuum. Once they’ve created a plan, they need to share that plan with clients and other members of the design team. On larger civil works projects, they may need to share their plans with a team of public officials or even the public.
7. Writing skills
Likewise, civil engineers may sometimes need to share information about their plans through written correspondence, including emails and written reports.
8. Listening skills
Civil engineers need to use active listening in order to understand the requests of clients, architects and other members of the design team, in order to deliver quality work that meets everyone’s needs.
9. Time management
Time is money on any project – and that typically goes double for design and construction projects. The civil engineer needs to be good at managing his or her time, as well as the time of any subordinates with whom they work.
10. Design skills
While they won’t be the architects that are drawing up construction plans, civil engineers will need to be familiar with the language and the methods of design.
Having these skills will go a long way toward helping you be a successful civil engineer – though the profession, like many, also requires dedication, integrity and hard work.