Civil Engineers on construction site

Career Paths for Civil Engineers

Civil engineers create the infrastructure our country is built on. They design roads, railways, bridges, public buildings, power plants, water management, off-shore facilities and much much more. The chancellor announced a huge investment in government infrastructure projects over the coming years and Britain may well be on the way to a building boom.

There is unlikely to be a shortage of work for civil engineers any time soon so if you are technically minded, have a fascination for the built environment or transportation and are looking for a well paid, stable career, look no further!

Essential Qualifications for Civil Engineers

There are multiple routes into civil engineering but without 5 GCSEs (A*-C /9-4), including Maths and Science your choices are limited. Get your GCSEs and then work out the route that suits you. The Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) provides great guidance on choosing your subjects at A level


To study civil engineering at university you will need at least 3 A-levels including maths and a science subject, preferably Physics. As well as Oxford and Cambridge, the universities of Glasgow, Bath and Southampton have outstanding undergraduate courses in civil engineering. Remember the Open University too if you don’t want to relocate to attend lectures. You may wish to study for an MEng which will extend your course to 4 years. Many BEng courses include a placement year where you will get hands-on experience working in the industry, meaning that you will graduate well-equipped for the world of work.


Unlikely some other engineering fields university is not the only way. If you don’t have A levels you could consider the BTEC Level 3 Diploma or Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment – Civil Engineering. Once completed you could choose to study for a Level 4 HNC in Civil Engineering at colleges and universities across the country and you can also study online, for example, the distance HNC from Teeside University  Generally two A levels are still required but if you are changing careers or have other experience you may still be able to enrol. HNCs are designed to be a bit more flexible than degrees. Many people who study for an HNC are in full or part-time employment so it’s ideal if you want to get out and earn your money whilst qualifying.

Apprenticeships and trainee schemes

Many civil engineers learn on the job and gain qualifications through an apprenticeship or earn professional qualifications later on. Generally, you would work as an engineering technician for a civil engineering company or start a level 3 apprenticeship (equivalent to A levels). You could also do a higher or degree apprenticeship which would be the equivalent of a university degree. Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular and respected as a route into the industry.

Professional qualifications for civil engineers

To secure roles and to enhance their career status most civil engineers embark on a series of professional certifications. Firstly if you have a level 3 qualification (A level equivalent) you can apply for the EngTech qualification which certifies that you are a competent technician engineer, compliant with professional standards. To become an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) you must have the equivalent of a degree. To become a Chartered Engineer (CEng) you must have the equivalent of an MEng and you may have to conduct further study to be eligible. The ICE details all the requirements for certification.

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