Areas of work, specialisms and alternatives

Construction and civil engineering

30 Jan 2024, 11:52

Civil engineering is all about creating, improving and protecting the environment in which we live. It provides the facilities for day-to-day life such as transport, and the infrastructure allowing industry to prosper.

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Generally speaking, the work of civil and structural engineers will combine site and design work. However, consulting engineers tend to focus more on design whilst contracting engineers will spend more time on site work, which involves supervising the setting out and levelling of the site, surveying and site management. Civil engineers work on projects that involve multidisciplinary teams including architects, quantity surveyors and building services engineers. 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; for example, that steel reinforcement is correctly in place. Civil engineering offers graduates a high-tech career with the chance to travel and work outdoors. Due to current demand in this field, graduate starting salaries are often above average.

Civil engineering qualifications

This career area is open to any engineering graduate, although a civil or structural background is advantageous. You will need to demonstrate strong technical competence and a creative approach to problem solving. Numeracy is essential for keeping financial records and managing budgets. Civil engineers also need excellent communication skills to liaise with other designers, contractors and subcontractors, other professionals and members of the public who may have objections to building work taking place. Report-writing skills, team-working, strong organisational skills and the ability to manage resources and people are also required.

Further information

Graduates considering a career in civil engineering should keep abreast of developments via Engineers Ireland and the Institutions of Civil Engineers and Structural Engineers in the UK. Student membership of Engineers Ireland is free. Useful information about the sector is also available from the Construction Industry Federation .

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This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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