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Top jobs for civil engineering graduates

Top jobs for civil engineering graduates

If you’ve chosen to study engineering or have just finished an engineering degree, you’re already on the path to a successful, rewarding career.

Those with civil engineering skills are in high demand as the UK workforce continues to experience a shortage of necessary engineering skills. A major reason for this skills gap is due to the ageing engineering workforce – a large number of engineers are expected to retire in the next 10 years and not enough younger people are entering the profession.

In a survey of more than 3,600 engineers by The Engineer, 40% were aged 50 or above demonstrating the imbalance that exists in the UK engineering workforce. In addition, EngineeringUK projects a shortfall of 20,000 people entering the engineering profession with level 4+ skills over the next 10 years. So, if you are a civil engineering graduate or are studying this discipline at the moment, your skills are extremely desirable to employers within the engineering industry.

Even if the skills gap was to lessen in the future, the skills of a civil engineer will always be needed. As the Institution of Civil Engineers puts it, “civil engineers are creative people who solve problems” and clearly, in our modern world, there will always be more problems to solve.

Civil engineers design and create the built environment we live in, coming up with solutions to a range of world problems such as how to manage the changing environment and how to accommodate the energy, transport and infrastructure needs of a growing population.

If you haven’t yet decided what job you’d like to get with your newly acquired skills, here are 11 jobs which are ideal for civil engineering graduates and the approximate pay rates you could earn during your career, once you’ve gained five or more years’ experience.

These are split into two major job types within the profession: site roles and design roles.


1. Project manager

Any construction job, whether it is a mega project, like the A14, HS2, Thames Tideway Tunnel or Cycle Lane Improvements in London, needs someone to ensure that from start to finish it is completed within a particular timeframe and to budget. This is what a Project Manager does.

Permanent: £60,000
Contract: £32 to £40 p/h

Browse all project manager jobs

2. Site agent/manager

This job involves the management of part or all of an infrastructure project that could focus on structures, surfacing or drainage works, for example. The role often requires commercial knowledge and management of the works, whilst organising the workforce in a safe manner.

Hinkley Point C and the Thames Tideway Tunnel are examples of projects where site agents/managers would be used to manage specific specialities.

Permanent: £55,000
Contract: £30 to £35 p/h

Browse all site management jobs

3. Site engineer

Site engineers are part of the site management team and are primarily involved in setting out the project foundations but also take some of the responsibility for security, health and safety, and organising and supervising materials and people.

You will find site engineers on any civil engineering job from the A14 road scheme to works within London for TfL, Crossrail and any major city development. Depending on the size and responsibilities of the job, pay rates will vary but you can see the approximate figures below.

Permanent: £45,000
Contact: £25 to £30 p/h

Browse all site engineer jobs

4. Setting out engineer

Setting out engineers act as the main technical adviser on a construction site for subcontractors and operatives and are responsible for setting out, levelling and surveying the site. The M25 Improvement Scheme is an example job which would require skilled people in this role.

Permanent: £38,000
Contract: £22 to £25 p/h

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5. Quantity surveyor

These people calculate the amount of labour and materials needed for construction work, and how much they will cost. Quantity surveyors are key in assessing the financial costs and gain construction companies can expect to make and receive.

Any large construction project like the M4 Smart Motorway, Crossrail or Lee Tunnel Project will rely on quantity surveyors to keep their projects on budget.

Permanent: £60,000
Contract: £30 to £40 p/h

Browse all quantity surveyor jobs


6. Highway engineer

Highway engineers are involved in maintenance and new build designs for the highways network, working on minor and major roads. The kind of projects you could work on involve highway redevelopments, new build design and construction such as the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) and deliver on asset support contracts.

Permanent: approx. £32,000
Contract: £30 p/h

Browse all highway engineer jobs

7. ITS engineer

ITS stands for intelligent transport systems and is an emerging discipline within civil engineering. ITS engineers deliver cable calculations and equipment integration designs primarily for Smart Motorway projects. ITS engineers will play a crucial role in all of Highway England’s Smart Motorway Projects, as well as specialist projects at problematic areas like the Dartford Crossing.

Permanent: £36,000
Contract: £35 p/h

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8. Drainage engineer

In this specialist role you would deliver detailed drainage design for a range of schemes and projects across the residential, commercial and industrial markets. Jobs may include working on highway drainage for minor and major roads or undertaking the flood risk and water modelling works for councils. A good drainage engineer is versatile and can apply their skills to a range of fields.

Permanent: £38,000
Contract: £36 p/h

Browse all drainage engineer jobs

9. Infrastructure engineer

Infrastructure engineers perform hands-on detailed designs for civil residential projects, specifically to S278, 38, 104 and 106 design adoption standards. Typical projects include large residential development 200-500 unit plots, motorway service stations, car parks and commercial factories.

Permanent: £34,000
Contract: £34 p/h

Browse all infrastructure engineer jobs

10. Bridge engineer

As a bridge engineer, you will undertake assessment, design and structural calculations for highways structures. Your work may involve maintenance of existing structures, development of brand new structures, or improvement structures for highways usage.

Permanent: £38,000
Contract: £40 p/h

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11. Civil design engineer

In this job you will deliver detailed civil design support to all projects with a civil engineering involvement, from highways, water and rail projects to major tunnelling and construction schemes.

Civil design engineers will often start in graduate positions earning around £25,000 per annum rising to principal, manager or director-level positions earning up to £70,000 per annum or £40 to £45 per hour as a contractor.

Permanent: £25,000 to £70,000
Contract: Up to £40 to £45 p/h

Browse all civil design engineer jobs

As you can see from this list, civil engineering is a really diverse discipline. Not only will a career in civil engineering give you variety, but it can also offer you good pay prospects and the opportunity to be part of some milestone projects.


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