Many of us, even civil engineering students, are sometimes confused that is the exact work that they have to do as job in the field or office. Civil engineers create, improve and protect the environment in which we live. They plan, design and oversee construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities, such as roads, railways, airports, bridges, harbours, dams, irrigation projects, power plants, and water and sewerage systems. They also design and build tall buildings and large structures that they can last for hundreds of years and withstand all weather conditions. Civil engineers can either be consulting engineers who advise on projects and design them, or contracting engineers who turn their plans into reality and maintain the structures once they are built. Typical civil engineering work activities include:
Undertaking technical and feasibility studies including site investigations
Using a range of computer packages for developing detailed designs
Undertaking complex and repetitive calculations
Liaising with clients and a variety of professionals including architects and subcontractors
Compiling job specs and supervising tendering procedures

Resolving design and development problems
Managing budgets and project resources
Scheduling material and equipment purchases and deliveries
Making sure the project complies with legal requirements
Assessing the sustainability and environmental impact of projects
Ensuring projects run smoothly and structures are completed within budget and on time
Working as a civil engineer you may be required to work away from home for periods of time. Frequent visits to sites may also be necessary, especially for new graduates. Travel abroad may be possible with a large consultancy company. While regular office hours are the norm, you may have to work long days and some weekends close to project deadlines. Overnight and weekend stays may be required for site inspections. Site engineers and managers can be on call 24 hours a day.

Local authorities
Government departments
Water/electricity/gas companies
Civil engineering contractors/consultants
Self-employment is possible for those interested in setting up their own consultancy firm, but you will normally need several years of proven professional experience.

To become a chartered civil engineer it is necessary to gain a degree in civil or structural engineering, usually an M Eng. which is accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) or and to undertake vocational training for at least four years with an ICE-accredited employer (contact the ICE for a list of employers offering approved training schemes). Many employers offer sponsorship, vacation work and 'year out' placements which can provide valuable contacts and a useful insight into the profession. Promotion to senior engineer level is achievable, and with more experience, to principal engineer level and beyond. Opportunities to specialize in a diverse range of areas, including coastal and marine, power, water and roads, are possible.

Employers seek creative graduates who are commercially aware and capable of working well within a team environment. Other key skills include:
Sound mathematical and technical skills including physics
Ability to think methodically, to design, plan and manage projects
Ability to maintain an overview of entire projects while continuing to attend to detailed technicalities
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Negotiating, supervisory and leadership skills combined with the ability to delegate
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