Civil engineer job description

Andrew Fennell Andrew Fennell

Civil engineers plan, design, and oversee the building of the infrastructure and built environment around us, such as roads, railways, bridges and sewage systems.

They are responsible for ensuring that the construction projects under their management are finished to the highest construction and health and safety standards, whilst meeting all functional requirements.

This detailed guide includes a full civil engineer job description and everything else you need to know about civil engineers, including salaries, skills, qualifications, typical employers and more.


Guide contents

  • Civil engineer job description
  • How much do civil engineers earn?
  • What does a civil engineer do?
  • Requirements, skills and qualifications
  • Who employs civil engineers?
  • Which junior jobs progress to civil engineer roles?
  • Career development opportunities for civil engineers


Civil Engineer job description

Civil engineer |Dorset Drainage Solutions 


About Dorset Drainage Solutions

We are an accredited construction company specialising in drainage relating to coastal erosion and flood defence management, with 20 years’ experience delivering contracts for government agencies and the private sector across Dorset and the south west.


About the role

Leading technical design work for drainage projects within the flood defence sector, this role will report to an existing design team leader and contribute to the delivery of a range of engineering and environmental improvement projects, including build schemes and temporary works such as barriers, gates, dams, embankments and diversion channels.



  • Predicting and modelling flood risks and presenting to clients
  • Producing CAD drawings and recommendations for scheme or structure designs
  • Liaising with the local community including members of the public, landowners and local authorities on planning and building regulations
  • Providing and explaining proposed plans and in public meetings, fielding questions
  • Managing external contractors to deliver specialist project elements
  • Planning and conducting site surveys
  • Writing tender documents
  • Risk analysis and management
  • Assessing and monitoring environmental impact


Location & commitments

  • Permanent
  • Full-time
  • 30 – 17.00
  • Based at our Dorset Head Office in Dorchester
  • Occasional evening and weekend work may be required


Candidate requirements

  • Candidates must hold an MEng (Hons) and be willing to work towards chartered status
  • Previous experience in a flood management role within the public sector
  • Knowledge of UK legislation, standards and codes of practice relating to flood management
  • Minimum two years’ experience using flood modelling software
  • Strong communicator and confident public speaker – ability to explain complex ideas
  • Excellent mathematical and technical skills including generating, checking and reviewing engineering calculations


Contact us to apply

If you would like to be part of a growing company helping Dorset communities become more resilient to flooding, send your CV to our HR Manager, Mr Paul Wood by email:

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How much do civil engineers earn?

Generally speaking, civil engineering is a well-paid profession with an average salary of £42,500


Civil engineering salaries in the UK

  • Low: £37,500
  • Average: £42,500
  • High: £57,500

Source: Totaljobs


Civil engineer salaries will vary depending on;

  • The type of employer – e.g. is the engineer employed by a private company? An international development charity?  A local authority?
  • The type of engineering projects being worked on – e.g. Large-scale airport expansion, small scale local authority drainage project, high profile stadium project or conflict zone emergency bridge repair
  • General salary factors – such as location, qualifications, length of candidate experience and status with the professional development body

For example, a civil engineer with 8 years’ experience, postgraduate qualifications and chartered membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers working on a high-profile rail link extension in London, will normally earn more than a graduate civil engineer with 3 years’ experience working in the charity sector, where budgets are limited.

Bear in mind that these are average figures taken from job advert samples, and they do not include extra benefits such as bonuses, overtime and non-financial benefits such as healthcare, professional membership fees or access to company car schemes.


What does a civil engineer do?

candidate requirements

Breaking down the job description jargon, here are the typical tasks and responsibilities that civil engineers will carry out in an average work week;

  • Producing drawings – Using computer aided design (CAD) packages to create accurate drawings for construction planning
  • Calculations – to ensure that subsequent drawings and plans are accurate
  • Risk analysis and management – assessing risk at the project site and ensuring mitigating measures have been put in place
  • Assessing environmental impact – working with external agencies and experts to ensure the construction project does not have a negative impact on people or the environment
  • Managing progress on site – ensuring the work is progressing according to the budget, time schedule and meets all good practice standards including health and safety
  • Conducting feasibility surveys – to provide early stage information to project managers as to determine whether a project will be successful or not.
  • Managing contractors – ensuring that contractors carry out their work to a high standard, within the specified time frame
  • Liaising with the general public –attending public meetings to present plans and dealing with complaints relating to noise or disturbance
  • Mentoring trainee engineers – supporting graduate engineers through employer led training schemes to meet Institution of Civil Engineers membership requirements


What do civil engineers need?

Civil engineers need a range of skills, experience, knowledge and qualifications in order to carry out the job safely and effectively.

Exact requirements will depend on the seniority of each job, as well as the industry and type of engineering being used, but generally speaking… here’s what’s needed.



Junior civil engineering jobs will require the candidate to have had some exposure to construction environments, for example through a college/university placement or internship.  Although some large companies will sometimes hire candidates with no engineering experience for apprenticeship schemes.

Senior civil engineering roles will normally require candidates to have 3 or more years’ experience working on construction projects – and often companies will prefer industry specialists. E.g. If a local authority were hiring a senior civil engineer to work on a seafront defence barrier, they would prefer a candidate who has specialised in coastal engineering.


Civil engineer skills

Civil engineers need a blend of skills to be able to deliver construction projects on time and budget, these include the following:

  • Numeracy: Using advanced mathematics to ensure projects are designed accurately
  • Leadership: Managing teams of staff and contractors and overseeing large projects
  • Organisation: Overseeing multiple teams and activities into streamlined project plans
  • Negotiation: Managing expectations of clients, architects and the public, persuading others and providing alternative solutions
  • Problem solving: Dealing with unexpected construction issues to reduce their effect on the success of the project

And the more industry specific “hard skills” include:

  • Construction legislation knowledge: Knowledge of the industry regulations on building practices and health and safety
  • Computer Aid Design (CAD): Up to date knowledge and skills in using a variety of CAD packages
  • Survey analysis: Ability to interpret surveys and identify any design or practicality issues


Civil Engineer qualifications

Qualifications are needed to work as a civil engineer, but there are a variety of different routes into the profession, allowing some flexibility.

This section will cover the different levels of qualifications and methods of study. These civil engineer qualifications are recognised across the profession and will help candidates to find jobs, in addition to helping them perform better in their roles.


Degree in Engineering BEng (Hons)

Studying for a civil or structural engineering degree is the most common route into civil engineering.  Entry requirements vary but universities usually expect five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) plus three A levels including maths and a science subject.  Typical modules may include civil engineering practice and surveying, engineering geology, health and safety, advanced maths, structural and soil mechanics.  Some courses have links to industry, giving candidates the chance to include a work placement as part of the course.


Postgraduate degree in Civil Engineering MEng (Hons)

To achieve chartered status and maximise career potential, a postgraduate degree in civil engineering is expected.  Candidates with first degrees in related subjects such as maths, science, or geology can use the postgraduate route to begin, or change to, a career in civil engineering.


Chartered status with the Institution of Civil Engineers – ICE

Chartered status enables candidates to access the full range of career opportunities.  3 stages are involved:

  • Academic qualification (as described above)
  • Work experience: the initial professional development stage of recording evidence in the work place and completing annual appraisals
  • Meeting the requirements of the ICE professional review: submitting a 5000 word report and undertaking an interview and written assessment


Degree apprenticeship

Civil engineering degree apprenticeships are available with a range of employers and allow candidates to gain new knowledge and techniques to develop the skills needed for a high standard of work.  Apprentices obtain either a BEng (Level 6) or MEng (Level 7), over an average of four to six years.  Entry requirements vary depending on the employer but most require either a BTEC Extended Level 3 Diploma in Engineering plus A Level maths or 3 A Levels including maths and a science subject.



What is expected of civil engineers?

Typically, civil engineers will be expected to commit the following;

  • Full time hours – (40 – 42 hours per week) with occasional overtime required when project deadlines are nearing.
  • Occasional evening or weekend work where project work needs to be carried out outside of the employer’s core business hours, including shift work
  • Location – either based at an office or on a construction site, sometimes living on site for short periods will be expected
  • Regular travel to project sites to oversee work
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) – is mandatory when working on site, such as helmets and hi-vis jackets


Civil engineer benefits

As civil engineers are highly qualified, they usually receive a good benefits package, including things like:

  • Pension
  • Healthcare
  • Car allowance
  • Mobile phone
  • Professional membership fees


Who employs civil engineers?


Due to the ongoing need for civil construction projects to be undertaken across all sectors of the UK, civil engineering skills are in high demand across all industries in both the private and public sector.

Large national and international companies employ civil engineers frequently but there are also many opportunities with local and national government, due to the fact that many civil projects will be government-run.

Typical civil engineer employers include:

  • Civil engineering contracting firms
  • The Environment Agency
  • Water companies
  • Rail networks
  • Electricity and gas companies
  • Government agencies
  • International development charities
  • Oil and gas companies
  • Airport developers
  • Property developers
  • Local authorities
  • Drainage firms
  • Coastal defence management organisations
  • Private organisations working on large scale projects e.g. sports stadiums



Which junior jobs progress to civil engineer roles?

Aside from apprenticeship programs, there are several jobs which see employees progress into civil engineer roles with additional study and qualifications. These include:


Civil engineering technician

Support staff member, helping civil engineers to plan, design and build infrastructure projects, carrying out site visits and reporting on progress.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) technician/draughtsperson

Project support role, providing assistance to architects and engineers, translating the requirements of their initial designs into accurate and detailed technical drawings in 2D and 3D models.

Surveying technician

Supporting civil engineers in collecting information from site inspections to inform drawings, plans and client meetings.


Which senior jobs do civil engineers progress to?

Even though civil engineering is a rewarding career choice in its own right, it can also be a springboard into jobs with additional responsibilities, such as:


Project manager

Some civil engineers chose to progress into large scale project management roles, taking on a wider remit and managing large staff teams on multi-million-pound projects, for example managing the construction of Olympic games venues.

Construction Manager

Some civil engineers progress into construction management positions, ensuring that safety and procedural standards are met and managing the practical side of the build across one or multiple sites.


Civil engineers can progress to gain Chartered Engineer (MICE CEng) status and then set up as a consultant, often specialising in one area of civil engineering such as dams, road surfacing or landfill sites.


Civil engineering job description – conclusion

Civil engineering is highly skilled technical job with strong demand across the UK from a wide range of industries and employers.

It pays above the national average salary, offers challenging and rewarding work as well as plenty of attractive career progression opportunities.