Civil Engineering is one of the most interesting and well-paid career paths a young person can choose and is a highly sought after profession. Without Civil Engineers we wouldn’t have roads, dams, buildings, and bridges.
If you aspire to be a civil engineer, here are some of the qualities you must possess to set you above the competition:
1. Management Skills
You’ll progress through your career, gaining more and more responsibility and eventually ending up as a manager of a sub-team or division. To be successful in this position you must be able to manage a number of different characters to ensure that the job is running smoothly. You must know how to motivate your team and utilise their strengths. Likewise, you must also know how to discipline someone professionally and to give due credit when it’s deserved.
2. Analytical Thinking
A great engineer has excellent analytical skills and is continually examining projects and thinking of ways to make things work better. They are naturally inquisitive and like to solve complex problems.
3. Technical Skills
A skilled civil engineer should have a high level of Mathematics and Physics that allow for identifying and solving engineering problems. For example, they must accurately work out each minute detail of any infrastructure including the weight that should be distributed through a bridge. They also need to be skilled in design techniques and working with maps, drawings and models, blueprints as well as CAD software. They must efficiently predict any possible future problems and find solutions in order to prevent them.
4. Communication Skills
Yes, communication skills are essential in any job role, but when it comes to engineering they must be able to clearly communicate ideas and give direction leaving no ambiguity. They must also be able to listen and benefit from the ideas of others in the team.
5. Critical Thinking
Civil engineers are often confronted with challenging problems and must be able to devise the most effective and reasonable approach when dealing with them. In order to do so, they must have the ability to think fast but precisely in order to apply general rules to specific problems and to solve them.
6. Leadership Skills
Civil engineers must lead by example; they are ultimately in charge of surveyors, construction managers, technicians, contractors, architects, urban planners, transportation engineers as well as maintaining the trust of governmental planning authorities. To keep a project on time and budget, they must be able to successfully lead all members of their team.
7. Creative Mind
To develop and implement new projects, the ability to ‘think outside of the box’ and be creative is an essential skill. You are expected to create innovative ideas and follow them through.
8. Being Able to Negotiate
This isn’t a skill that you will acquire at university but is an important one if you want to be a successful civil engineer. You must be able to bring others together and reconcile differences. You must also be able to negotiate deals with suppliers to reduce the cost of any one project.
9. Attention to Detail
Another key skill is having great attention to detail. Yes – this is mentioned in any job description, but when it comes to civil engineers it’s crucial! Every small part of designing and implementing infrastructure needs to be precise. If there is one piece of the puzzle missing you can kiss your career goodbye.
10. Good Time Management
A required professional skill to have is good time management; “complex construction projects require effective organisation and time management if they are to be delivered to budget and on time,” says Nigel on Target Jobs. “Every team member has to keep to schedule. Deadlines mean you can’t afford to let things slip.”
11. Problem Solving
Problem-solving is used on a daily basis in the construction industry; nothing is plain sailing. You’ll have to deal with unexpected problems like burst water pipes. The key here is getting all members involved to help and solve the problem in a timely manner.
12. Being able to Visualize
The ability to visualize is a top priority when thinking of becoming a civil engineer. While planning you must be able to bring the picture to life and imagine how your idea would work and what it would look like.
An experienced civil engineer explained, in the Guardian, why being a team player is such a significant personal characteristic to have. "It's a very rewarding job – there's a great sense of teamwork that comes through creating something and facing challenges together. If you enjoy working with people to help solve problems that affect wider society, then go for it. The industry is all about jumping in and trying new solutions."
14. Passion for Learning
The last and the most important characteristic that will make you not only a better professional but also driven is a never-ending spirit for learning. It’s important to continue learning and expanding your knowledge while new methods develop. That way you will always maintain the top spot and will have fundamental skills to add to your CV.
15. Enthusiasm and Commitment
To survive in this challenging industry you must be fully committed. The working hours are not your standard 9-5 and you may find yourself working at silly hours of the night through to the morning in order to reach your deadlines. To remain sane, you must keep motivated and always have a rewarding end goal in sight.
Most of the skills are gained through experience and expanding your knowledge. A good way to enhance them is through work-experience during your first job.
Do you feel like you possess the right skills and want to follow this career path? If so drop us a comment below…
This article was originally published in March 2015.