Civil engineer

structural engineer

Career outlook for civil engineer

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


Five year job forecast


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You would plan, design and manage construction projects for large buildings, transport links and major structures.

You’d explain your ideas to the client and make sure that the project is finished on time and to budget.

The projects you’d work on could be anything from bridges and tall buildings to transport links and sports arenas.

You could work in one of these specialist areas:

  • Structural - dams, buildings, offshore platforms and pipelines
  • Transportation – roads, railways, canals and airports
  • Environmental – water supply networks, drainage and flood barriers
  • Maritime – ports, harbours and sea defences
  • Geotechnical – mining, earthworks and construction foundations.

You would prepare the documents to try and win projects for your company. You’d estimate how much it would cost, how long it would take and how many people would be needed to work on it.

At the start of the project you would:

  • Plan the project requirements with your client and colleagues
  • Use computer modelling software to analyse data from surveys, tests and maps
  • Create computer aided design (CAD) blueprints
  • Assess the environmental impact and the risks of a project

Once a project is underway you would:

  • Direct and check the progress during each stage of a project
  • Make sure the construction site meets the legal, and health and safety, requirements.
  • Report to your clients, public agencies and planning organisations

You’d work closely with other professionals such as architects, surveyors and building contractors.

Working conditions


You would normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may also have to provide out-of-hours cover to deal with any problems.


Your time would be split between an office and the project site. Site work would be in all weathers.


Site work may involve a lot of travel. Depending on the contract, you may sometimes need to travel overseas.

UK employment status





Self employed


Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with technology
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Time management

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in civil engineering.

You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 5 qualifications and one to two Highers or a relevant National Certificate.

To enter a BEng or MEng degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and four to five Highers or a relevant HND.

Useful subjects

Most courses require:

  • English
  • Maths
  • Physics

Helpful to have

You may also apply to study civil engineering with relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Construction Site Supervision (Construction): Building and Civil Engineering (SVQ level 3).

Once qualified it is helpful to register with the Engineering Council UK (ECUK); you will need both academic qualifications and practical experience.