If you have an interest in design and enjoy creative problem solving, a career as a Civil Engineer could be for you.
As a Civil Engineer, you will be involved in the design and construction of various projects in the build and natural environment. The role you play in the development process will depend on whether you are a consulting or constructing Civil Engineer. These two paths are conected in that the consulting engineers are involved in the planning and designing and the constructing engineers oversee the actual groundwork of these plans. So in consulting, you will need to manage project resources, oversee site investigations, assess potential project risks, take the lead on projects as well as develop, review and approve designs. Whereas contracting involves slightly fewer responsibilities. This form of Civil Engineering is site-based where you will need to manage health/safety on site, supervise construction, liaise with the design team (consulting engineers) regarding modificatons and manage any unforseen construction challenges.
You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:
- Physical Science
- Engineering Graphic Design (EGD)
- The following institutions are highly recommended for studies in Civil Engineering:
University of Cape Town (UCT) – Faculty Point Score (FPS) of 500 for guarunteed admission
University of Stellenbosch – no required APS
University of Pretoria (UP) – APS of 35
University of Witwatersrand (Wits) – APS of 42+
University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN) – APS of 33 – 48
In order to qualify as a Civil Engineer, you will need to have a formal qualification. This could be either a Degree or a National Diploma. There are also some Higher Certificates in Construction Engineering which will give you a basic outline of the construction side of engineering. Most universities offer a Bachelor of Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering where you can study further to get your honors/masters.
In general, your job prospects and salary will increase with the type of qualification you have as well as the institution from which you obatined your quailification.
You will need to have the following skills to succeed as an Civil Engineer:
- creative problem-solving skills
- technical skills
- leadership and ability to work in a team
- IT and mathematical skills
- communication skills
- ability to give attention to detail
There is a range of environments that you could find yourself in as a consulting or constructing Civil Engineer. Some of these places of work include:
- water and public health
- building and construction
- structural work
- waste management
- highways and transportation
- geotechnical engineering
- rail and tunneling
Whether you are working in office or on site, Civil Engineers are in demand across a wide range of fields.
Your working hours will vary depending on the specific field you work in as well as the projects you are involved in. In general, Civil Engineers will have a 40-42 hour week with the possibility of working extra hours/on weekends if a projects requires it.
On average, a Civil Engineer will earn an average annual salary of R342 113 in South Africa.
Here are a few things you can expect from a career as a Civil Engineer:
- as a consulting Civil Engineer, you could set up your own consultancy firm after picking up some professional experience
- you will need to be formally dressed when meeting clients however protective clothing is worn on site
- if you are a constructing Civil Engineer, you can expect to be working outdoors most of the time
- when on site, you might need to stay overnight in the area or for a weekend