Civil engineers design the physical infrastructure that surrounds us. Roads, bridges, airports, railways and other significant construction projects are built and maintained with the input of civil engineers.
Civil engineers will take on a wide range of responsibilities to ensure that large scale projects are delivered. These range from assessing the feasibility and challenges presented by proposed projects all the way to designing the project itself and selecting and managing the resources used and maintaining the infrastructure on delivery. This means they are often coordinating between the work of many other specialists, ensuring that the electrical engineers, mechanical engineers and construction contractors working on a construction project are on track.
The most common areas in which civil engineers work are in construction and the public sector. Here they will go about shaping the built environment that surrounds us. The government is the driving force behind the majority of major construction projects, the building of roads, hospitals, bridges and other public goods that present significant construction challenges and have a long lifespan. Civil engineers who work in the public sector are key to the delivery of these projects and to their ongoing maintenance.
Utilities companies also have significant demand for the talents of civil engineers to manage the infrastructure necessary to deliver water, electricity, broadband and other services to homes and business.
The range of possibilities open to you means that as your career develops you will have opportunities to specialise. You could develop your project management skills and take on a less hands on role or develop knowledge in a specific field such as fire protection, certification of builds or in structural design work. With over 400 engineering courses offered across undergraduate and postgraduate level, there is no shortage of entry routes to a career in engineering. Most of these courses focus on a specific field of engineering and at postgraduate level the degree of specialisation becomes greater.
If you’re set on a field there is likely to be a course that will allow you to study it from the outset, but many undergraduate engineering programs offer a general entry option, allowing students to study a range of topics and make a decision on their area of focus later, with the benefit of direct experience.