Real People. Real Stories. Real Business.
Chris Bell

How to Become a Civil Engineer

Iconic structures such as The Eiffel Tower, the Sydney Opera House, and the Laerdal Tunnel in Norway were developed by civil engineers. However, other life-supporting systems such as sewage treatment facilities, water ways, and the neighbourhoods that we live in are also made possible through the efforts of these engineering wizards. Contrary to popular belief, there is much more to civil engineering than just creating jaw-dropping architecture. In fact, today’s civil engineer is responsible for the creation and maintenance of every road we navigate, all buildings we occupy, and all infrastructure facilities we use and benefit from daily.

Civil engineering is a science that focuses on developing, planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining Australia’s infrastructure.  In order to master this career, a candidate needs to be proactive, have strong problem-solving abilities, and have a solid understanding of math, science, and engineering principles.

There are a lot of questions about becoming a civil engineer in Australia. How can a candidate begin this career path? What skills and education are required? What training is needed? These are the questions we’ll answer in the article below.

Knowing What to Expect

The typical civil engineer is required to complete multiple tasks daily including planning, designing, organization, task delegation and managing development and construction projects ranging from bridges, dams, water and gas lines, pipelines, sewage systems, airports, roads, and buildings. They also complete onsite inspections, analyse soil samples, rock formations, and the layout of environmental factors that impact the ability to build.

They also analyse and test the material integrity, durability, and environmental impact of supplies used to build infrastructure and on construction projects. A civil engineer works in offices, at home, and on-site. They can work long days, must adhere to strict deadlines, and work without direct supervision. They work with both non-skilled and educated individuals, a highly diverse segment, and contract or consult with both Australian and international-based land developers, architects, and more.

What to Study

If a candidate is considering a civil engineer career, there are multiple educational paths to consider. Generally, engineers are exceptional problem solvers. They enjoy creating or improving existing structures, buildings, roads, and other areas that impact society daily living. Sometimes these skills are evident in early in childhood, for instance you May have spent hours creating LEGO cities. A creative yet scientific and mathematical interest will be maintained through primary school, high school, and eventually through the University system.

Civil Engineers study and excel at advanced mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, and computer science in high school and university. These subjects provide the foundation on which most engineering careers are built. They also study trigonometry and algebra, which help develop problem solving capacities. Physics, chemistry and biology help engineers understand the physical attributes of gravity, ecology, and geological impacts. Ultimately, any civil engineer must attend university and attain a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Having the Right Skills

Education is crucial to any potential civil engineering candidate. However, having the right life skills is Invaluable. Civil engineers work with a highly diverse array of individuals of varying levels of qualification and from diverse sectors. Having strong people skills, being an exceptional communicator, and possessing the patience and aptitude to deal with challenges stress, and deadlines is crucial.

Effective communication skills improve the flow of information, optimise collaboration between stakeholders, and help resolve concerns. Being a strong communicator also helps to resolve minor problems before they expand into major issues. Communication is also critical for client relationship building. A strong verbal and written communicator can clearly outline project specifics, answer questions, and provide clarity to project participants.

Time management is another trait that successful civil engineers possess. Their projects can range from minor road enhancement to complete airports, harbour and port development or commercial property development. The most successful civil engineers are focus on efficiency, complete projects ahead of schedule, and keep costs under budget.

Industry-Related Work Experience

While education and interpersonal skills are vital, nothing beats on-the-job or industry-specific experience. Work experience for a civil engineer begins in university, where the candidate will apply for internships or paid positions in civil engineering firms. Hands on experience learning from seasoned veterans can provide day-to-day practical skills that can’t be taught in a classroom or read in a textbook.

Becoming Licensed

There are different licensing requirements based on the level of civil engineering or sub-specialty that the candidate chooses. It also depends on the location where you work or choose to provide civil engineering services. Generally, for Australia, a civil engineer can gain certification in the city or state in which they live, which may be transferrable. In some instances, certain licences will offer improved job opportunities and pay packages. Insurance options specific to your specific profession should also be considered.