What can I do with a degree in Civil Engineering?

Civil Engineering bridge building competition

Civil engineers use their knowledge and skills to design, construct, project manage, and commission a wide range of facilities. This includes basic infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, towers, dams, roads and railways, pipe networks and treatment plants which provide society with a reliable, safe, sustainable and modern environment. They use advanced computing techniques to design structures that are safe against earthquakes, fire, wind, snow and landslides. Civil engineers have responsibility for managing people, equipment, resources, time and money.

Communication skills are vital, as all professional engineers need to be able to provide detailed engineering reports and effectively take part in presentations, public hearings and inquiries.

Through their Civil Engineering degree graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Logical and quantitative thinking
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Practical application of engineering technology and science
  • Design skills and an understanding of computer design software
  • Supervising, directing and organising people and projects
  • Awareness of environmental considerations

Applied learning

Students undertake 800 hours of practical work experience as part of this engineering degree, providing them with a good understanding of industry and the confidence to apply their skills in a workplace setting. Applied learning also takes place on fieldtrips and through an industry project

Just as there are many distinct Civil Engineering jobs, so too are there diverse types of employers. Most new graduates are employed with either:

  • Contractors or
  • Consultants.

For some, however, their career path lies within:

  • Architectural practices
  • Road surfacing firms
  • Environmental contracting organisations
  • Oil and utility companies
  • Telecommunications businesses
  • Self-employment
  • Research — in business, government or universities (which usually involves teaching too).

There are many career options for graduates. In Civil Engineering roles they may undertake design, management, planning and/or building work. See some examples of jobs and activities below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Civil engineer

  • Consults with stakeholders as to the requirements of projects
  • Plans and designs structures and systems
  • Analyses the strength and capacities of structures and systems

Structural engineer

  • Designs and supervises the construction of structures
  • Investigates and analyses the site conditions
  • Develops refurbishment projects to strengthen existing structures

Environmental engineer

  • Tests environmental samples for pollution
  • Minimises the project’s environmental impact
  • Designs waste management systems

Water engineer, water resources engineer

  • Designs water-related systems eg, pipe work
  • Monitors the progress of water projects
  • Checks water-related systems for possible issues

Project engineer

  • Manages a project plan, budget and schedule
  • Supervises a project’s daily progress
  • Liaises with project staff and clients

Bridge engineer

  • Plans, designs and models new bridge projects
  • Oversees implementation progress
  • Liaises with project staff and clients

Geotechnical engineer

  • Analyses geologic data and how a site will behave under pressure
  • Determines an area’s suitability for construction
  • Makes construction recommendations

Transportation engineer

  • Designs, tests and improves transport systems and structures
  • Creates plans to meet changing transportation needs and population patterns
  • Researches and analyses traffic patterns

Site engineer

  • Surveys and levels the building site
  • Checks accuracy of construction plans/materials
  • Oversees the quality of building work

Humanitarian engineer

  • Applies skills to help developing communities
  • Develops resource solutions with local groups
  • Problem solves in challenging environments

Fire engineer

  • Uses modelling software to prepare reports, specifications and drawings
  • Conducts forensic engineering for insurance/ legal purposes
  • Designs and inspects safety systems

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Offers their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here

As they progress in their studies and into a career, our students and graduates often join professional bodies specific to their area of interest. These organisations offer graduates the opportunity to network and collaborate with others within the same community. Other relevant organisations are also listed.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep upto-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Civil Engineering subject page