Consulting civil engineers provide expert advice on the design, planning and management of civil construction projects, covering all types of residential and commercial construction, particularly in the area of large, public infrastructure projects. These guys are the driving force behind the construction of roads, highways, bridges and public facilities.
If you enter this profession, you’ll be making expert assessments of selected sites for construction, evaluating the structural, environmental and commercial feasibility of future projects.
Following this assessment process, you’ll be responsible for creating detailed drawings, plans and schedules and estimating the cost of the construction and engineering work required.
Once you’ve discussed all the relevant issues with building professionals, you’ll be in charge of finalising construction plans and obtaining final approval from your clients.
Once the project begins, you’ll periodically be monitoring site activities to ensure that construction is progressing according to planned schedules and budgets.
Furthermore, you’ll be in charge of making sure that all the construction activities meet quality standards and comply with statutory and regulatory requirements.
Finally, you’ll be responsible for resolving any issues and problems arising onsite, offering expert advice, closing out any possible gaps and addressing any unforeseen risks.
In order to thrive in this profession, you’ll regularly need to spend time keeping up-to-date on the latest trends and developments within the construction industry, reading about newly-enacted legislation and gathering information on new tools and techniques.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for civil engineers in the early stages of their careers range between £17,000 and £25,000, while engineers with plenty of experience can expect to earn anywhere up to £55,000.
Once you have gained status as a chartered or incorporated engineer and obtained membership from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), you could even earn up to £90,000 a year.
Most employers also provide benefits such as pensions, healthcare insurance and a variety of lifestyle benefits.
Work is mainly comprised of office-based design work, client meetings and interactions with professionals from other disciplines, as well as site-based work from time to time during construction periods and the finishing stages of projects.
Extra hours during weekends and national holidays may occasionally be required to make sure that construction projects meet their deadlines.
Travel across the UK and overseas is possible for civil engineers working for multinational corporations and large, national consulting companies.
An honours degree in civil or structural engineering, accredited by the Institution of Civil Engineers is the minimum entry-level requirement for graduates in this line of work. Candidates with MEng degrees are usually preferred. If you have a BEng, you may be required to obtain a relevant postgraduate degree before you can become a chartered engineer.
Some candidates with HNDs may be able to start off in lower-level technician positions and progress to become consulting engineers after completing a degree on a part-time basis.
Training & progression
Most employers in this field offer structured graduate development programmes, which culminate in achieving ‘incorporated’ or ‘chartered’ engineer status. Graduate trainees are supported by experienced line managers and senior mentors throughout this training process.
Employers also provide financial and learning support during this period, covering in-house or external tutoring assistance and study leave over and above the standard annual leave entitlement.
Career progression is mainly dependent on overall project experience, performance and completion of appropriate professional qualifications. As you progress and gain more expertise, you will begin to take on project management responsibilities and work on bigger and better projects.
Freelance consulting is a viable option once you have gained sufficient experience and established a market reputation.
Specialisation in niche consulting areas such as coastal development, public infrastructure or environmental management can also be a great way of building a successful career as a consulting civil engineer.