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Which role in civil engineering is right for you?

The UK’s civil engineering industry is growing. It’s been estimated that we will need up to 1.82 million people with engineering skills to fill the gap in the market by 2022, which presents significant opportunities for both employees and employers. With exciting projects like Crossrail, a burgeoning renewables industry, and the constant need to update and rejuvenate the UK’s aging infrastructure, it’s clear that the sector needs fresh talent if it wants to continue meeting demand and championing new solutions to age-old problems.

As the role of civil engineering in everyday society continues to evolve, more jobs will emerge to meet the increased demand. Whether it’s working with cutting-edge technology as a BIM manager or managing civil engineering projects as a risk manager, the professional future for those in this space is bright. Find out which part of the industry might suit you best:

Working for a consultancy

Most engineers follow two broad career paths when it comes to choosing their career: working for a consultant, or as a contractor. Consultants are typically involved with projects from their infancy, working closely with the client and often managing the project for them. They can have expert knowledge in a particular field – such as building design, health and safety or planning regulations -and assist the design team to ensure the final design is in line with industry and client requirements.

A consulting civil engineer is responsible for everything from carrying out initial analysis of the construction site and managing the budgets to designing and determining the environmental impact of the build. The role requires a strong attention to detail and a passion for analytics: you’ll probably be using computer-aided design and BIM to create structures that are accurate down to the last centimetre before passing the project on and getting started on a new one. Once designs are completed, construction begins and the role of the consultant becomes largely-office based, however they may still be involved in resolving design-based issues.

The hours for a consultant tend to be more regular than those of contracting and there is the opportunity to be involved in more granular details around project design, often on multiple projects at once. The variety of work makes this pathway ideal for someone who likes to be kept busy and challenged across multiple areas. Typical roles include CAD technicians, structural technicians and geo environmental engineers.

Working for a contractor

Once the design process is over, work is progressed through to the contracting civil engineer to conduct the construction work. This is the time for projects to be managed on site, with contractors ensuring the project is completed in line with requirements such as time, budget, design specification and safety. Specialist subcontractors can be used during this process to assist workflows. Civil engineers in the contractor space manage teams and oversee the implementation of designs, making it a more hands-on role when it comes to site work. Regular extra hours are typical of the industry to ensure projects meet deadlines and expectations, but benefits and job satisfaction offset this for many engineers. This pathway gives you the chance to be on the ground, with hands-on involvement in projects and how they are managed and completed.

Working as a contracting civil engineer also means that you can branch out into a whole range of contracting careers, taking the lead as a quantity surveyor, project manager, site engineers and more whilst also challenging yourself with a range of different projects.

Working at the cutting edge

Civil engineers have the unique opportunity to work across a range of sectors, from airports, bridges and structures through to energy and tunnelling and utilities. For the ambitious engineer, there are plenty of opportunities to change the world for the better, particularly when it comes to designing the world around us.

One sector that’s currently evolving at lightning speed is the renewables sector. Renewable energy now makes up nearly a third of all the electricity generated in the UK, but huge leaps still need to be taken when it comes to streamlining and improving new technologies. With new projects being greenlit all the time- from the Hornsea offshore windfarm, which is set to be the world’s largest when it finishes construction, to the worldwide push for solar and wind energy at the expense of the oil and gas industry - there are plenty of opportunities to find work designing and constructing a greener future as a renewables engineer.

Connecting the country

Tunnelling and rail engineers are always in high demand, but a recent push by the government to refit Britain’s ageing rail system to suit the demands of a new generation of commuters and travellers has seen business in this area boom. New projects are constantly cropping up, from building the new Elizabeth line for London to the East-West rail project, and it’s clear that the government’s £48bn investment is going to be funding projects for a long time to come. For people who enjoy working on small-scale to multi-billion-pound projects, on everything from developing new tramways to working in huge teams delivering a new metro system, this is a dynamic and ever-changing role where you can rapidly upskill.


Getting started in civil engineering

Whether you want to be at the cutting edge, at the heart of the construction action or want to change the way we commute to work, the right civil engineering role for you is out there. We know that the satisfaction of finding a job that you love is second to none: that’s why we take pride in connecting the best professionals to the best jobs in the industry.

Start your career in civil engineering here

Tagged In: Civil Engineering
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