According to a recent report by the Construction Index, “Civil engineering has seen bigger rises than building construction in the latest monthly and annual output figures for Europe’s construction sector.”

This report mirrors what many in and around the construction industry have been seeing in the last couple of years. Civil engineering projects has been driving the sharpest rise in construction output – certainly over 2017 and into 2018.

With the sector experiencing such growth in output, the opportunities to carve out a career in civil engineering are also increasing. In fact, the rise in civil engineering work has led to an increase in employment rates within the sector.

What is Civil Engineering?

Put simply, Civil engineering deals with conceiving, designing, building, supervising, operating, constructing, and maintaining physical and naturally built environment infrastructure projects and systems in both the public and private sectors. This includes everything from roads, buildings, and airports to tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

ICE, the Institution of Civil Engineers, puts it a little more succinctly: “Civil engineering is everything you see that’s been built around us. It’s about roads and railways, schools, offices, hospitals, water and power supply and much more. The kinds of things we take for granted but would find life very hard to live without.”

Not only is civil engineering a challenging and rewarding career, it’s a well-paid one, too. On average, civil engineers make £41,613 per year. That is about £3,467 per month, or £21.34 per hour!

What does the job involve?

There are many distinct disciplines within what we think of as Civil Engineering. These include:

  • Civil engineer
  • Site engineer
  • Setting out engineer
  • Site technical support
  • Water engineer

However, in general terms, civil engineers design, create and connect up the world around us. They help make our villages, towns and cities work for the people that live there.

Civil engineers undertake research and design, direct construction and manage the operation and maintenance of civil and mining engineering structures. They perform the following functions:

  • Undertake research and advise on soil mechanics, concrete technology, hydraulics, water and waste water treatment processes, and other civil engineering matters
  • Determine and specify construction methods, materials, quality and safety standards and ensures that equipment operation and maintenance comply with design specifications
  • Design foundations and earthworks
  • Organise and plan projects, arrange work schedules, carry out inspection work, and plan maintenance control

Many of the best known and most-loved landmarks in the country are the product of civil engineering.

You can learn more about specific civil engineering projects that have enriched the UK over the past 200 years – including Fife’s own Rosyth Dockyard – on the ICE website as part of their ICE 200 project.

What skills will I need?

There are a host of sought-after skills that all successful civil engineers possess. These include the following:

Organisational and decision-making skills

Because civil engineers often balance multiple and conflicting objectives, such as determining the feasibility of plans with regard to financial costs and safety concerns, decision-making ability is essential. Planners often look to civil engineers for advice on these issues. Civil engineers must be able to make good decisions based on best practices, their own technical knowledge, and their own experience.

Leadership skills

Civil engineers take ultimate responsibility for the projects that they manage or research that they perform. Therefore, they must be able to lead planners, surveyors, construction managers, civil engineering technicians, civil engineering technologists, and others in implementing their project plan.

Maths skills

Civil engineers use their mathematics skills for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills

Civil engineers work at the highest level of the planning, design, construction, and operation of multifaceted projects or research. The many variables involved require that they possess the ability to identify and evaluate complex problems. They must be able to then use their skill and training to develop cost-effective, safe, and efficient solutions.

Communication skills

Presenting reports and plans to audiences of people with a wide range of backgrounds and technical knowledge requires the ability to speak clearly and to converse with people in various settings, and to translate engineering and scientific information into easy-to-understand concepts. Civil engineers must be able to communicate with others, such as architects, landscape architects, urban and regional planners. They must also be able to explain projects to elected officials and citizens. Civil engineers must be able to write reports that are clear, concise, and understandable to those with little or no technical or scientific background.

How do I gain these skills?

The good news is that these skills are all built into the courses in Civil Engineering offered at Fife College! Throughout the courses we deliver, you learn the specific technical knowledge and skills you’ll need to build yourself a career in civil engineering.

Foundation Apprenticeship: Civil Engineering

The Foundation Apprenticeship allows you to start your civil engineering studies while still at school.

The FA covers a wide range of practical and theoretical aspects of Civil Engineering and includes topics such as mechanics, site surveying, geotechnics, technology, materials testing, maths, and CAD.

You will have access to the latest software, technology, and equipment which will enrich the learning experience to best prepare for progression to college, university, or employment.

Read more about the FA in Civil Engineering

HNC: Civil Engineering

The HNC develops knowledge and skills in areas such as geotechnics, civil engineering contracts and project management, construction site surveying, and construction technology (substructure and structural mechanics).

You will gain contemporary vocational skills including study, research, analysis, planning, and organisational skills. You will also learn to take responsibility for your own learning and develop the ability to be flexible and to work cooperatively with others.

This HNC will enable you to achieve appropriate professional body recognition, in particular, but not exclusively, from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

Learn more about the HNC

Move onto university study – with direct access to 2nd year of a degree

College is the perfect place to start your career in Civil Engineering. Not only will our HNC course set you up for your career, we also offer progression to year 2 of the following degrees at Abertay, Edinburgh Napier, and Heriot-Watt Universities:

  • BEng(Hons) Civil and Environmental Engineering at Abertay University
  • BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University
  • BEng (Hons) Civil and Transportation Engineering at Edinburgh Napier University
  • BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering at Heriot-Watt University

The College also offer courses in Architectural Technology, Quantity Surveying, 3D Interior Design, and Construction Management that all offer progression routes to top universities across Scotland and the UK.

Ready to find your ideal route into a richly rewarding career as built environment technician?

Explore our courses