Construction and civil engineering
Graduate careers in construction and civil engineering.
Civil engineers and building services engineers work for large construction companies, engineering contractors, consulting engineers and, in the public sector, for local authorities. They are involved in the design and supervision of a wide range of infrastructure projects.
There are also opportunities for graduates with companies providing engineering services to the construction industry, for example in the production of plants, tools and equipment or in servicing specialist areas such as quarrying or waste management.
Where could I work?
Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of a huge range of projects including buildings, roads, railways, tunnels, bridges, power stations, dams, water supply and sewerage systems. Civil engineering offers graduates a high-tech career with the chance to travel and work outdoors, and to work on projects that involve multidisciplinary teams including architects, quantity surveyors and building services engineers.
Civil engineers can work for a wide variety of companies including firms of consulting engineers, engineering contractors, construction companies and local authorities. They are also employed by property developers, transport infrastructure companies and government departments. Generally speaking, the work of civil and structural engineers will combine site and design work. However, consulting engineers tend to focus more on design while contracting engineers will spend more time on site.
Consulting engineers are responsible for working with clients to design, plan, manage and supervise the construction of projects. Their work involves carrying out site investigations and feasibility studies; developing detailed designs; liaising with other professionals such as architects, building services engineers and quantity surveyors; and ensuring the smooth running of projects and completion within budget and on time. Contracting civil engineers turn the plans of designers into reality. They liaise with the design team and oversee the actual construction on site. Their work involves organising manpower and materials; observing safety standards; negotiating modifications with the designers; scheduling work; and supervising construction, including the work of subcontractors. They use specialist equipment to survey sites to ensure that the construction work is being carried out in the right place and that the structure is safe.
This career area is open to any engineering graduate, although a civil or structural background is advantageous. Numeracy is essential, as are communication skills.
Building services engineering
Building services engineers ensure that the buildings we live and work in are comfortable, safe and energy efficient. They do this by designing building services systems and supervising their installation and operation. Typically 30–40 per cent of the total construction costs in commercial and industrial buildings are associated with the provision of services such as lighting, heating, air conditioning, power, data communications, public health systems and lifts.
The work involves advising clients and architects; designing suitable systems (using computer-aided design) and supervising their installation; and liaising with structural engineers, construction managers, builders and surveyors. Building services engineers are employed by consultancies, contractors, local authorities, the public health and healthcare sector, universities and the manufacturing industry. You will need to demonstrate strong technical competence, design skills and commercial awareness. Communication skills are essential for liaising with other professionals, as is the ability to work in a team. A good level of numeracy is needed to make complex calculations and estimates for clients.