Civil engineers design, construct, maintain and improve the physical environment, including; bridges, tunnels, roads, railways, canals, dams, buildings, flood and coastal defences, airports and other large structures. The term ‘civil’ engineer was originally coined to distinguish it from military engineering.
Whilst some of these specialisms may be considered sub-disciplines of civil engineering, subjects such as structural engineering (which focuses on the design, assessment and inspection of structures to ensure that they are efficient and stable) may now be considered engineering disciplines in their own right.
In 2007, the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Council adopted the following definition of civil engineering, ‘Civil Engineering is a vital art, working with the great sources of power in nature for the wealth and well-being of the whole of society. Its essential feature is the exercise of imagination to engineer the products and processes, and develop the people needed to create and maintain a sustainable natural and built environment.
It requires a broad understanding of scientific principles, a knowledge of materials and the art of analysis and synthesis. It also requires research, team working, leadership and business skills. A civil engineer is one who practises all or part of this art.'
Civil engineers will normally begin the process of qualification by taking a three-year BSc or Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) degree or a four-year Masters (MEng) degree in civil engineering. Alternatively, practicing technicians can take a BTEC HNC/HND or foundation degree in civil engineering.
This is likely to be followed by entering a company's graduate training scheme for one or two years and joining a professional body, such as the Institution of Civil Engineers to allow progress towards incorporated or chartered status. Incorporated engineers will tend to work on the day-to-day management of projects whilst chartered engineers may have a more strategic role.
To see some of the modules studied as part of degree courses, see Civil engineering course essentials.
- ICE: Institution of Civil Engineers.
- Engineering Council.
- IStructE: The Institution of Structural Engineers.
- IHT: Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation
- IIE: Institute of Industrial Engineers.
- 7 myths about a career in civil engineering.
- A detailed look at the ICE Enabling Better Infrastructure programme.
- Appointing consultants.
- Army training and civil engineering.
- Bridge construction.
- Building design process.
- Building services engineer.
- Capability Brown - proof that engineering for sustainability works.
- Career development for infrastructure leaders.
- Civil engineering dream projects.
- Consultant team.
- Engineers make policy decisions a reality.
- Engineering construction skills bootcamp.
- Engineering Council.
- Everything we thought we knew about civil engineering improving the world is wrong.
- Five great things about civil engineering.
- Five transferable skills important to civil engineering.
- Forensic investigations: can we trust them?
- Future skills for civil engineers.
- Geotechnical engineering.
- How to become a civil engineer.
- ICE President Rachel Skinner presents Shaping Zero.
- Infrastructure and film: Five iconic movies that civil engineers helped bring to life.
- Institution of Civil Engineers.
- Infrastructure that allows humans to flourish.
- Institution of Structural Engineers.
- Lead consultant.
- Lead designer.
- Section engineer.
- Shaping Zero seeks carbon champions.
- Site engineer.
- Structure definition.
- Structural engineer.
- The role of civil engineering in designing out loneliness.
- Uncertainty in the civil engineering profession.
- Water engineer.
- Why infrastructure transparency matters.
 External references
- ICE: The Little book of civilization.
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