what is a civil engineer?

As a civil engineer, you design and monitor public facilities and infrastructure construction, including public transport, roads, bridges, buildings and tunnels.

Civil engineers are at the heart of the built environment since they create functional spaces and facilities that help communities thrive. As well as designing buildings and bridges, civil engineers also construct jetliners and space stations. Usually, civil engineers spend a significant amount of time planning and designing projects. They also prepare proposals, supervise construction teams and make design adjustments.

where does a civil engineer work?

Civil engineers work in various business sectors. Most civil engineers are employed in the construction industry bringing structural designs to life. As a civil engineer, you can become a consultant in the construction industry, ensuring building processes are environmentally sensitive and efficient. You also work on infrastructure projects like bridges, tunnels, mines, dams and marine structures. Civil engineers work on space stations and construct jetliners in the aerospace industry. In the automotive industry, they work on design safety and load-carrying capacities. You may also work in the shipbuilding or mining industries.

civil engineer jobs

average civil engineer salary

A civil engineer earns about $105,000 per year. When you have minimal expertise in the role, your salary starts at $90,000 annually. However, as you gain experience, your remuneration gradually increases to $110,000 per year. The remuneration package may include car allowances and other benefits.

what factors affect the remuneration package of a civil engineer?

Civil engineers' salaries fluctuate based on skills and credentials. Workers with advanced certifications or professional certificates and licenses earn more than workers without the same credentials. Experience also influences your earnings since the longer you work, the more productive you become. When you have in-demand skills, your salary increases gradually.

The geographical location also affects remuneration packages. For instance, some metro areas or states have higher earnings than others. The cost of living in metro areas also increases earnings.

The industry in which you work as a civil engineer also influences your salary. For instance, working in the public sector attracts lower pay than working in private companies. Some industries, like mining and aeronautics, offer higher remuneration packages.

smiling male at work
smiling male at work

types of civil engineers

Civil engineering divides into various specialisms, including:

  • geotechnical engineering: ensures the foundations of structures are solid. Your job is to check the soils and rocks supporting the foundations of buildings and tunnels to ensure the systems remain robust after construction. You also design and create plans for retaining walls and tunnels.
  • structural engineering: as a structural engineer, you design and assess infrastructure projects, analysing structural systems to ensure they don't collapse. You may design and build bridges, dams and buildings. Your primary responsibility is to ensure structures are solid and durable. You also advise on the construction methods and materials to improve structural stability.
  • transportation engineering: as a transportation engineer, you specialise in planning and designing transport systems to improve infrastructure efficiency. Your job is to assess future travel patterns and design transportation systems based on changing needs. You also design highways, logistical supply systems and rail networks.

working as a civil engineer

As a civil engineer, you plan and design infrastructure and buildings that improve people's lives. Let's look at civil engineers' specific duties, work environment and work schedules.


education and skills

Civil engineers require the following academic qualifications:

  • bachelor's degree: to become a civil engineer, pursue a four-year bachelor's degree in civil engineering. The entry requirements for the course are completing Year 12 and meeting the subject requirements. During the undergraduate course, you choose your specialism. When you complete the degree, consider higher learning like a master's in civil engineering, or earn a certification to obtain chartered civil engineer status.
  • licence: most states require a licence to practice civil engineering. You can apply for the licence after your first degree, but you need to practice engineering for four years to get the licence.

civil engineer skills and competencies

Some of the skills of a civil engineer include:

  • critical thinking skills: you are often confronted with problems and require reasonable approaches to deal with them. Critical thinking helps you think precisely and use your civil engineering knowledge to solve challenging problems.
  • management skills: you work alongside a variety of professionals. You manage a project or a division and assign tasks to junior engineers. You require management skills to supervise people with diverse personalities and backgrounds.
  • creativity: you develop cost-effective transport systems and infrastructures. Therefore, you require creativity to create and implement new projects.
  • time management: you supervise complex construction projects that require effective time management for timely completion. Any delays can affect the budget, so good time management skills help to steer projects and complete them within the stipulated time frames.
  • problem-solving skills: exceptional problem-solving skills help you deal with challenges during construction. With problem-solving skills, you can ensure that unexpected occurrences don't affect the project.

FAQs about working as a civil engineer

Here are the most asked questions about working as a civil engineer:

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