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Career profile: Civil engineer

Career profile: Civil engineerDo you like problem solving and working as part of a team? Would you like to be involved in protecting our environment? Then maybe you could be a Civil engineer. Read on to find out more.

A what?

Civil engineers are involved in seeing an engineering project from conception, through the design stage, to construction and completion. They may either advise on projects and design them, or turn these plans into reality and maintain the structures once they are built.

On the job

Civil engineering involves creating, improving and protecting the environment in which we live. It provides the facilities for day-to-day life and for transport and industry to go about its work.

They are typically involved in liaising and working jointly with the consulting engineers to implement a project. They would deal with clients, architects, sub-contractors and building workers as well as schedule work and supervising the supply of materials and plant for construction. They also direct the work of sub-contractors employed on the project and ensure safety standards and quality of work.

Civil engineering often includes project management and, once the plans for a project have been approved and construction starts, civil engineers are then in charge until the project is completed.

A civil engineering project can take years to complete. They are usually undertaken by a project team made up of many different types of professionals - architects, transport planners and a wide range of engineers from different disciplines.

How much does it pay?

Salaries may range from about £19,000 to over £60,000 a year.

How do I get there?

It is worth getting the highest possible academic qualifications, but it is important to take a route which ensures eventual professional recognition. The usual qualification to start training as a civil engineer is a degree or HNC/HND in a relevant subject.

Generally the minimum qualifications for a degree course in civil engineering are two A-levels/four H grades, including maths and physics, and five subjects at GCSE/S grade (A-C/1-3). Alternative qualifications may include BTEC/SQA national awards in engineering or construction.

At many universities, students without the necessary background in science and maths can qualify for engineering degree courses by first taking a foundation year.

It is also possible to begin training for craft or technician-level jobs straight from school with GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) in English, maths and science. An Advanced apprenticeship leading to technician status through NVQs/SVQs, HNC/HND or a Foundation degree in engineering or technology, plus appropriate further learning to degree level is also a recognised route.

There are different types of apprenticeship available. From Young apprenticeships to Advanced apprenticeships. To find out which one is most appropriate log onto www.apprenticeships.org.uk or contact your local Connexions Partnership.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information contact My World of Work (Scotland), Careers Wales and for Northern Ireland contact COIU