Qualifications to become a civil engineer

The routes into civil engineering are varied and flexible, offering both academic and vocational ways to join the profession.

Qualification details

The diagram below gives you an idea of the possible routes to become a civil engineer.

*Please click on the image to enlarge

AS and A-levels

Students who show an interest and aptitude for civil engineering should be encouraged to pursue Physics and Mathematics as their core subjects for their A-levels.

By taking Mathematics and Physics, they can gain entry to a civil engineering degree at university. The choice for their third and/or fourth A-level is more flexible. Typical choices are:

  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Design technology
  • Further mathematics
  • Modern foreign language

Choosing a language for example, could allow them to spend a year abroad as part of their university course.

You must advise your students to consult the UCAS website and the individual universities they are applying to for precise entry requirements.

We advise you to encourage students to look for places on accredited civil engineering courses, as this will help them with becoming an ICE member.


Another route into civil engineering is through the Advanced Diploma in Engineering or the Advanced Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment. Most universities accept the Engineering Diploma provided students take Mathematics A-level or the OCR Level 3 Certificate in Mathematics for Engineering as their Additional Specialist Learning (ASL).

Some universities accept the Construction and Built Environment Diploma. They must also take Mathematics A-level or the OCR level 3 Certificate in Mathematics for Engineering plus the unit Mathematical Techniques and Applications for Engineers.

If your student is considering applying for a civil engineering diploma, they must consult the UCAS website and check with the universities of their choice to see what their requirements are for the Additional Specialist Learning (ASL) component of the Diploma.

BTEC qualifications 

BTEC Nationals in Civil Engineering or Construction are a tried and tested basis for becoming a civil engineer. This can be taken either as part of an apprenticeship scheme, or as a full time college course leading to a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND) or a Foundation Degree in civil engineering.

Students can also go on from a BTEC National Diploma to a BSc, or BEng degree, but universities will often ask for an additional mathematics qualification. Again, students must consult the UCAS website and the individual universities of their choice for entry requirements.

Scottish Highers

Most universities ask for Mathematics and Physics, with some also asking for English. Other useful options include Graphical Communication and Technological Studies.


If your students are interested in an apprenticeship, there may be an opportunity to train as a civil engineering technician. The usual route for this is Advanced Technical Apprenticeship, which usually combines a BTEC National qualification with a work based competence programme.

Supporting material

ICE offers a selection of materials to support your work with your students.