You could say civil engineering dates back to around 2,600 B.C., when the first Egyptian pyramid was built. This was the pyramid of Djoser, built by Imhotep, the first acknowledged engineer in history. Today, some of the civil engineers that can take pride in their work are the masterminds that helped built iconic buildings like Burj Khalifa or the Sydney Opera House and the Golden Gate Bridge, just to name a few.
A civil engineer basically deals with developing the plans, and managing all the steps of a construction project, such as buildings, roads, bridges, railways, etc. However, you should not mistake them with architects, although until around the 18th century, civil engineering and architecture were considered and treated as one and the same thing.
While architects come up with the ideas and design, civil engineers take these ideas further and have to adapt them and take into consideration various factors, like natural disasters, purpose of the project, load factors and more.
Top countries for studying Civil Engineering
- Bachelors and Masters in the U.S.
- Bachelors and Masters in Australia
- Bachelors and Masters in the UK
- Bachelors and Masters in Canada
- Bachelors and Masters in Denmark
- Masters in Germany
- Masters in Poland
The most popular jobs for Civil Engineering graduates
1. Construction engineer
A construction engineer will be responsible for the design, management, and supervision of various construction projects, like buildings, roads, bridges, etc.
Construction engineers will always have to consider environmental issues, construction regulations and legislation, and carefully inspect the area where the project is meant to be built. In addition, construction engineers identify aspects that might negatively impact the foundation for the strong structure of the construction work. You will have to work and collaborate with team members that include architects, construction managers, planners, surveyors.
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2. Structural engineer
Structural engineers design structures like buildings, bridges, tunnels, railways, etc., and they mainly act as consultants for architects or contractors. Once the architect delivers a design plan, the structural engineer then has to make various calculations and estimates. He or she will have to decide what structural systems and materials to use, while considering natural factors (like snow, wind, etc.) and consult with other team members and professionals, such as materials engineers, environmental engineers.
Structural engineers will have to make inspections during and after construction and make sure all the steps of the construction were followed accordingly.
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3. Building control surveyor
As a building control surveyor, you will have to first make sure that building regulation and legislation is followed for the construction project. Some of the main duties will be to inspect and test foundations, drainage, or building materials.
In case the building doesnt meet all the necessary requirements and presents safety issues, like damage from fire or earthquakes, you will have to suggest a solution that eliminates safety risks while avoiding delays and extra expenses, or approve the building to be demolished.
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4. Water resource engineer
Water resource engineers are in charge of developing equipment and systems for water resource management facilities. They will have to deal with the design, management, and maintenance of these systems (underground wells, natural springs). Water engineers will have to make sure inhabitants can make use of clean and uncontaminated water, thus the systems have to manage human water resources.
Water engineers will have to work and consult with structural engineers in order to gather information about the construction of dams and reservoirs. Other important tasks include evaluating storm drainage and flooding and creating systems that pump water from flooded plains into rivers or irrigation systems.
5. Building services engineer
You will have to deal with the design, installation and maintenance of all the services that are needed to allow the building to function according to the purpose it was intended to. These services may include acoustics, health and safety, heating, lighting, power and supply.
6. Engineering geologist
You will have to identify and deal with all geological factors that may affect all types of engineering works. Your responsibilities include inspecting the soil, rock, groundwater and other important factors that may affect the foundation and structure of a construction project before it is built.
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7. Quantity surveyor
Working mainly as a consultant, your job will involve finding solutions to minimise the costs of a project, while still keeping the required standards and quality. Quantity surveyors are included in a project from the start where they will make feasibility studies. During the construction process, they will have to keep track of time and labour costs, monitor each step, make financial estimates for clients and advise them on legal and contractual matters.
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Average salaries for civil engineers
Civil engineers can be employed by local or national authorities or they can work for a private company. Mainly, civil engineers can work either as consultants, focus on design work and spend most of their time in the office, or they can work as contractors and get more involved in the physical construction process and stay more on-site. The demand for civil engineers will continue to be on the rise, as globally, the need for infrastructure projects will increase.
The job of a civil engineer is pretty well-paid. Here are some average income numbers for civil engineering jobs around the world, according to PayScale:
- United States - 60,000 USD/year
- United Arab Emirates - 27,000 USD/year
- Germany - 38,000 USD/year
- Australia - 55,000 USD/year
- Canada - 49,000 USD/year
- Denmark - 63,000 USD/year