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Everything you need to know about Civil Engineering

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With growing levels of urbanization in the world over, demand for civil engineers is predicted to increase even further. The increasing number of commercial projects globally only means more quality infrastructure is needed. Thus, the Region and Segment Forecasts predict that the civil engineering sector will grow at a compound annual rate of 5.7% between 2021 and 2028.

So, a career in civil engineering may be worthwhile in the long run. Civil engineering is a dynamic field that adjusts to suit specific demands. For instance, of late, much of the sector is adapting to growing environmental concerns like pollution, renewable energy, and others. 

Contrary to popular belief, civil engineering is not all about designing and building houses. Everything from the structures to the water supply to the land involves civil engineers. This article will show you everything you need to know about civil engineering today.


1. What is Civil Engineering All About?

Civil engineering is an arm of engineering that involves the natural or physically built environment that surrounds us. It is the second oldest engineering discipline, second to military engineering.  Civil engineers oversee the design, construction, and maintenance of the built environment. 

A civil engineer’s services cut across all sectors of an economy, from the private sector involving large and small firms to the public sector involving government agencies, municipal public works, to large global companies. 

They deal in constructing roads, bridges, airports, sewerage systems, railways, among others.

2. Who is a Civil Engineer?

A civil engineer is a person responsible for designing and overseeing the construction of public projects like the ones carried by SANA Global Projects. They are involved in building roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, airports, water and sewerage systems, among other infrastructure projects. Any physically or natural built project that surrounds us involved a civil engineer. 

For example, each time you open a water faucet and water oozes out, behind the curtains, a civil engineer designed and laid the water systems that brought water from the source to where it is needed.


3. What Does a Civil Engineer Do?

The main task of a civil engineer is to design and supervise construction projects. These tasks can be broken down into:

3.1. Analysis

A civil engineer performs an analysis test to determine the long-term effects of a project. During this phase, maps, reports, soil tests, and many more necessary studies are conducted. As a result of these case studies, they can ascertain if the foundation for the project will hold up, if the project aligns with the regulation, what impact the project has on the environment, assess the risks, among others. They can then identify the best options, resources, and tools to use during the project.


3.2. Planning

Civil engineers then come up with a design for the project under construction. They do so through using traditional drawing techniques or software. They then go ahead to schedule each activity of the project and define the project milestones.


3.3. Estimations of the project requirements

Civil engineers carry out estimations for the number of workers, costs, resources, among others. This helps when creating a budget for the project and also determining the feasibility of the project.


3.4. Reporting

It is the civil engineer’s responsibility to make reports and communicate to the parties involved. They ought to report to the clients regarding the progress, mishaps, necessary project adjustments, among others. They also ought to inform any involved third parties.


3.5.  Construction Management

The civil engineer oversees all activities concerned with the project. So, they should possess organizational skills. They often take on the role of a project manager and ensure that workers follow all safety protocols. They also submit and sign all paperwork to the necessary authorities involved to get permits for works in the project.


3.6. Identifying the necessary project partners

A civil engineer cannot work solely on projects. They will have to identify different project subcontractors to provide them with the necessary machinery and equipment. 

Also, civil engineers have different areas of specialty. So, they need to work with others as a team to bring the project to life.


4. Types of Civil Engineering

Civil engineers exist in various forms. Depending on the project, two or more specialists will often work together to complete projects with the desired results successfully.

4.1. Construction Engineering

Construction Engineers are more engaged in the planning and executing of a project, transportation of the materials, and development of the site. They usually collaborate with others, such as environmental engineers and geotechnical engineers. Construction engineers tend to cover more ground tasks than other civil engineers. 

Yet, they bear greater risks. They oversee the establishment of large buildings, electrical systems, and mechanical systems such as elevators. Construction engineers also have bigger business tasks because they engage in monitoring prices of supplies, drafting and reviewing contracts, among others. 

On average, Construction engineers earn between $69,000 and $92,000 per year.


4.2. Structural Engineers

Structural engineers focus mainly on the structural design of buildings and analysis. They ensure that structures are safe and can withstand the purposes for which they are intended. They can also improve existing facilities. Structural engineers work on structures like buildings, bridges, towers, flyovers, tunnels, and aerostructures. Because they are responsible for the building makeup, they work closely with architects.

Key roles of structural engineers include:

  • Calculating loads for different structures.
  • Identifying appropriate construction materials.
  • Monitoring and inspecting structural work.
  • Regularly inspect existing building conditions.

A structural engineer earns approximately $70,000 per year on average.


4.3 Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers, aka public health engineers and ecological health engineers, deal with the purification of air and water, treatment of chemical, biological, and thermal wastes, and assessing the impacts of a project. They are also in charge of removing contaminants from sites after waste disposal or accidental contamination occurs.

An Environmental Engineer, on average, earns $67,000 per year. 


4.4 Transport Engineers

Transport Engineers are the type involved in designing, building, and maintaining transport infrastructure. It covers streets, canals, highways, rail systems, airports, ports, and mass transits. Their expertise is necessary for developmental and connectivity infrastructure development.

Transport engineering involves pavement engineering, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Infrastructure management, Traffic Engineering, and transportation planning. Since they are involved with moving goods or people between cities, they work closely with urban planners or engineers.

Transport Engineers earn $69,457 per year on average, depending on the projects and experience.


4.5. Geotechnical Engineers

Geotechnical Engineering covers the study of rocks and soils that support foundations, walls, and other structures. One of the challenging elements of being a Geotechnical Engineer is that soil behavior is difficult to predict.

Geotechnical Engineering aggregates knowledge from various fields of soil science, material science, mechanics, and hydraulics. They utilize scientific methods and principles within engineering to collect and interpret ground properties. This data then works for other engineers during the construction process.

 A Geotechnical engineer earns about $68,000 per year.


4.6. Surveying Engineers

Also known as civil surveying, these play an essential role during construction projects. They are involved in the construction of both residential and commercial buildings and infrastructure. Structural engineers carry out assessments, record details about the area and the land, and then map it out. Surveying engineers also vary based on their points of specialty. 

They include construction surveyors, deformation surveyors, Geological surveyors, hydrographic surveyors, and topographic surveyors.

Their annual salary ranges between $58,000 to $83,000.


4.7. Water Resource Engineer

Water resource Engineering is the type that involves predicting and managing both underground and above the groundwater quantities. They combine knowledge from fields like hydrology, environmental science, meteorology, conservation, and resource management.

Other critical tasks for these engineers include:

  • Building, repairing, and maintaining water resource control like reservoirs and defense walls.
  • Work with stakeholders like local governments and contractors on water projects.
  • Compile periodic reports to mitigate water disasters or guide response.

A water resource engineer earns approximately $80,000 a year.


4.7. Urban engineer

Urban engineers are involved in the construction of municipal/town infrastructure. They focus on designing, constructing, and maintaining streets, sidewalks, water supply networks, street lighting, and sewers, among others. They also handle problems concerned with environmental and land use issues.

Most urban engineers specialize in specific tasks such as drainage, town planners, highways, housing, and streetlights.

The average annual salary is $75,000 for an urban engineer.

civil engineer working

5. What Is a Civil Engineer’s Work Environment Like?

Whether it is constructing a new project or renovation, a civil engineer’s work typically involves both office and fieldwork. Within the office environment, a civil engineer creates designs and makes calculations regarding the project. 

They frequently make field trips to the site to supervise their teams, solve onsite problems, carry out surveys, among others.


5.1 Civil engineers commonly work in the following industries:

  • Mining and drilling.

  • Commercial construction.

  • Residential construction.

  • Urban planning.

  • Renewable energy.

  • Transport agencies.

  • Government agencies.

  • Water and gas infrastructure.

Within these industries, they hold positions such as; construction inspector, project engineer, supervising engineer, associate civil engineer, civil engineer, city engineer, field engineer, and development manager.


6.The Benefits of Civil Engineering to Society

Civil engineers play a vital role in a society’s development. They set up systems and structures such as buildings, sewer systems, water pipelines, and so on that facilitate social and economic life.

Civil engineers ensure that the established structures and systems run efficiently and are maintained. Where the need arises, they carry out replacement or renovation work on key structures like buildings, roads, water supplies, etc.

Civil engineers ensure that they are safe and efficient when transporting people or goods between different places with transport infrastructure. They make sure that the structures are strong and durable enough to handle various vessels.

Without civil engineers, our society would probably be in total chaos. Poor structures, no piped water or electricity, no roads, etc.


7. The Role of a Civil Engineer in Construction 

The two primary roles of a civil engineer include:

  • Creating the structural design coined by consulting engineers.
  • Physically overseeing the construction of the project .

Civil engineers run every construction activity from the start to the completion of the project. They map out the structural design coined by the consulting engineers and oversee their execution.

Roles of a civil engineer include but are not limited to:

  • Planning for construction materials and ensuring they are used efficiently.
  • Managing and liaising with consultants and subcontractors.
  • Managing construction site workers.
  • Resolving any technical issues that arise during the execution of the project.

8. How To Become a Civil Engineer

There are different ways to become a civil engineer, and not just getting a degree in civil engineering through school. Civil engineers graduate mainly need skills and knowledge of Physics, Math, and Design.  Below are some common pathways.


8.1 Engineering Courses

In school, one will need to study physics and mathematics to qualify for a foundation degree, diploma, or Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. It typically lasts four years, depending on your country of study.

They will receive additional onsite training. This qualification enables you to get involved in practical fieldwork experience through internships or real work experiences.

After the degree program, you will usually need to do a Professional Engineer License exam to obtain a license. It is not a mandatory requirement to start your career. But, it is necessary for any advancements you might want down the road. 

Pursuing a master’s degree is also highly recommended. It could also take you 1 to 3 years, depending on where you study. 


8.2 Practical training

The alternative route to becoming a civil engineer is to work your way into the profession. Although it is a long and often less successful route, it is doable.  

Often, you would start as a construction worker, then upgrade to a foreman, a drafter, then to doing engineering tasks. However, even with this hard journey to the top, such prospects still get paid less because they lack professional qualifications.

Alternatively, if you have much lower qualifications like a diploma, an apprenticeship/ internship program could help you step up fast. Here you get on-field training from experienced professionals to gain that expertise you need.


9. Conclusion

Many argue that civil engineering is the backbone of modern civilization. It could hold true considering all the benefits these professionals bring to the industry and communities as well. 

Their roles are continuously evolving, the latest being a focus on the environment. But they are still dynamic enough to adjust. The civil engineering profession is ideal for those great with design, can solve problems, and are good leaders.

Nonetheless, civil engineering is certainly a path worth following. As long as you know your specific interests, e.g., water, transport, buildings, etc., you are good to go. They get pretty good remuneration too. 

However, your primary focus should be to gather as much experience because that’s where the big money is.

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