25 Oct 2022

A day in the life of a Civil Engineer

What does a Civil Engineer do?

Civil engineers are the type of engineers who take part in construction projects like highways, railroads and airports. They bring their expertise in the construction and operation of infrastructure. They can work in the office during the planning of a project as well as at the construction site to oversee implementation.

Civil engineers use computer modelling software and data from surveys, tests and maps to create project blueprints, while also considering the environmental impact and risk.


What does a day look like for a Civil Engineer?

A typical day for a Civil Engineer might include some of the following tasks:

  • Design transportation / hydraulic systems using CAD (computer-aided design) or other similar drawing tools
  • Oversee the operations taking place at the project site
  • Calculate load, grade requirements, water flow rates or material stress factors that can be used to create the designs
  • Study the maps, drawings, photos or other geologic/ topographic data
  • Lead engineering activities taking into consideration environmental, safety factors and governmental regulations
  • Contribute to the reference points needed for the construction guide
  • Provide technical advice to industrial/ managerial personnel regarding design, construction, program modifications, or structural repairs.

What are some of the sub-disciplines that require knowledge of Civil Engineering?

  • Architectural Engineering – involves creating the design and adding aesthetics while respecting sustainable and functional principles
  • Environmental Engineering – focuses on maintaining and improving the quality of air, water, and land by using sustainable methods that are integrated into the plans
  • Geotechnical Engineering – comprises the dynamic and physical history of the rocks, minerals and the elements that are in them; engineers who work in this area need to know the construction materials and techniques
  • Structural Engineering – involves the design of structures like houses, and public buildings which need to withstand loads and environmental elements
  • Transportation Engineering – focuses on managing the current transportation systems while also researching emerging technology that is aimed at improving transportation


How to become a Civil Engineer

With GCSEs under your belt; here is what you could consider next:

  • A-levels such as Maths and Physics
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma or Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment – which can lead you into roles such as Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer
  • An apprenticeship where you can work and study part-time can lead to roles as an Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer.


What Next?

Once you have A- Levels, level 3 BTEC, Scottish Highers, international equivalents or an apprenticeship you could:

  • Study for a degree – pick a specialist civil engineering degree or a general engineering degree with various topics in the first 2 years and a focus on the specific type of engineering.
  • An apprenticeship where you can build up technical skills and industry knowledge; at the end, you should have an industry-recognised qualification and a full-time job.
  • Vocational courses like Higher national certificates (HNCs) at level 4; Higher national diplomas (HNDs) at level 5 or Foundation degrees (level 5) in Civil Engineering.

So, now you know all about Civil Engineers, do you think you’d like to be one?


This article was written by Stemette Society member Emilia Ariciu.

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