What Does A Civil Engineer Do?


A civil engineer designs and oversees the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Using advanced knowledge of calculus and mechanics, civil engineers are in charge of overseeing private and public projects from start to finish. What does a civil engineer do?

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the technical and administrative aspects of supervising a construction or maintenance project.

The scope of civil engineering is very broad and in many countries includes all types of works- from the most ambitious infrastructure projects such as dams and bridges to simple residential renovations.

Role Overview - Civil Engineer
Role Overview – Civil Engineer

According to the degree of complexity of the project, civil engineers often team up with structural engineers, architects, project engineers, geologists, among others.

Additionally, civil engineering is a solid academic base that is complemented by various specialisations. Here is a brief summary of the best known ones:

  • Civil engineering in civil work: This deals with the planning, evaluation, administration and execution of construction and maintenance projects. The real estate sector usually has the largest range of professional opportunities for this specialty.
  • Civil engineering in metallurgy: This consists of using minerals to create alloys as well as managing the physical-chemical processes in the extraction chain of metals present in minerals. The mining and metallurgical sector offers professional opportunities for this specialty.
  • Environmental civil engineering: This focuses on reducing environmental impact through projects for the conservation and protection of natural resources. In this sense, the industrial sector and environmental agencies usually hire professionals with this specialty.
  • Geotechnical engineering: This field deals with analysing the characteristics of the soil and rock on which foundations are built. This specialty is essential for large works and usually offers engineers with opportunities in construction companies, both public and private.

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Responsibilities of a Civil Engineer

The functions of a civil engineer can be classified into the study, planning, supervision, management and control of civil works projects.

From the technical point of view, a civil engineer is responsible for ensuring the quality of materials and processes to meet the specifications of the work.

Responsibilities Of A Civil Engineer
Responsibilities Of A Civil Engineer

On the administrative side, a civil engineer makes sure to know the specifications of the work and adequately document the project.

Here are some of the most common tasks for civil engineers:

  • Manage the specifications of the project of the work
  • Document the project according to local regulations
  • Supervise the preparation of the plans of the work
  • Communicate continuously with the project team, contractors and labourers
  • Ensure the quality of the materials used
  • Supervise strict compliance with work schedules
  • Verify compliance with safety regulations
  • Coordinate the project team to ensure compliance with technical specifications
  • Report failures, risks or accidents on a regular basis

Skills of a Civil Engineer

Working as a civil engineer requires mastering the technical and administrative knowledge to manage civil works projects.

Basic technical knowledge includes calculus, mechanics and physics. Upon these foundations, civil engineers become experts in the study, projection, analysis, supervision and execution of civil works.

Skills Of A Civil Engineer
Skills Of A Civil Engineer

In administrative terms, civil engineers must be able to handle national and international standards, project management, documentation, and work teams.

Below are the commonly required civil engineering skills:

  • Expertise in calculus 
  • Strong mathematical knowledge
  • Management of BIM (Building Information Modeling) methodology
  • Project document management
  • Mastery of 2D and 3D design with CAD tools such as AutoCAD, SketchUp, DraftSight, among others
  • Expertise with BIM software tools such as Autodesk Revit, Softplan, ArchiCAD, Allplan, among others
  • Management of project management tools such as MS Project, GanttPro, TaskJuggler, Toggl Plan
  • Abstract reasoning
  • Attention to detail
  • Analytical thinking
  • Strong organisation skills
  • Strict handling of deadlines
  • Ability to communicate with different work groups

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Education and experience

A Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering is an essential requirement for the professional practice of civil engineering. It is also common to be required to join a professional association in order to practise.

Depending on local regulations, a civil engineer may take responsibility for the inspection of works and the validation of regulatory documents. In those cases, postgraduate studies are usually required to have the power to approve and inspect regulatory aspects.

Certifications in software such as AutoCAD, Autodesk Revit and MS Project can also make all the difference in finding the right jobs.

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What is the salary of a civil engineer?

A civil engineer who’s just starting out can earn a salary of $58,000 year. On the other hand, an engineer with years of experience and skills can earn a salary of $124,500 per year. The average annual salary for a civil engineer is $85,000.

In Germany, the salary range of a civil engineer is between €30,000 – €71,000 whereas in the UK, the range for these professionals is £24,000 – £48,000 per year.

It is worth noting that in each country, the salary can vary and that there are important variations based on the experience of the candidate, the type of company and project.

Salary of a civil engineer:

US$58,000 – $124,500
Germany€30,000 – €71,000
UK£24,000 – £48,000

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Stefania Volpe

Stefania joined the international team at freelancermap in 2020. She loves marketing, the digital world, foreign languages and meeting different cultures. She moved from Italy to Germany thanks to an exchange program at the university and worked as marketing manager for several startups. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com.

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