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7 top reasons why civil engineering is the best career

26 April 2023

Whether you’re thinking about going into civil engineering or you’re already working in the industry, these are the reasons why civil engineering is, without a doubt, the greatest job in the world.

7 top reasons why civil engineering is the best career
Fancy a career that involves abseiling? Just one of the reasons why civil engineering is so great. Image credit: David Mark/Pixabay

One thing that civil engineers seem to have in common is an innate love for their job.

They seem to all have such a high level of job satisfaction from their work, which not only gets them out of bed every morning but motivates them in their day-to-day activities.

We asked some civil engineers what they love about the profession, and why they believe it’s the king of careers.

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1. Civil engineering is SO varied

Civil engineering is a term that covers so many job roles, sectors, skills and people.

“There’s more to it than muddy boots and concrete,” says Blessing Danha.

She finds the application of big data and technology on ageing infrastructure an interesting area of work, for example.

Mimi Nwosu, a civil engineer for Heathrow Airport, likes how diverse the industry is.

"I like how easy it is to change sectors. I have worked in highways engineering for a consultant, materials engineering for a contractor, and now in aviation for a client.

"You can truly make your career your own and work on a variety of projects," says Mimi.

Every day is different, according to Aaron Matthew.

"You get to work with a ton of new people on new tasks every day! I have written legal documents, made announcements on the trains, repaired Santander bikes and explored underground stations,” he says.

Meanwhile, Tara Fraser’s civil engineering career has included abseiling off bridges and mast structures, inspecting Ministry of Defence facilities, and working on airports and laboratories.

"There’s so much variety,” says Fraser. “Where else can you be working inside an office and out on site, all in the same day?”

Check out the ICE Guide to Careers in Civil Engineering

The insights from these civil engineering professionals offer just a glimpse at the variety of opportunities available within the industry.

Whether you’re a student, recent graduate or early career professional, the ICE Guide to Careers in Civil Engineering is an invaluable tool to help plan your future.

Discover more about the career options available to you by downloading the full guide:

Download the app:

A printed edition of the guide is also available to purchase from the ICE Bookshop.

2. Civil engineering is a creative career

If you think that creativity can only be found in an arts career, you’d be wrong.

The vast number of different designs for buildings, bridges and other structures shows how civil engineers have to think outside the box to solve a wide range of challenges.

"I had no idea how creative civil engineering was until I got to university and my first project was to build a pasta bridge,” says Cat Salvini.

"It’s creative. Whether it’s bringing a drawing on paper to life to working out how to thread a tunnel through the congested ground below the feet of Londoners,” adds Sakthy Selvakumaran.

3. Civil engineering is a real team effort

Engineers work in teams to solve real-world problems, so if you’re a team player, it’s the perfect career for you.

"The civil engineering industry is built on team spirit and collaboration,” says Kishore Ramdeen.

"We encourage each other to achieve more and challenge ourselves. And when we work together well, we get things done safer, faster and cheaper.”

Natalie Cheung is one civil engineer who’s motivated by working with other people.

"It’s great to come together with people with different expertise to deliver one collaborative design,” she says.

"A civil engineer isn’t just a person who sits behind a PC doing calculations or designing all day, but a person who forges relationships, motivates others and talks openly about worldly issues,” adds Ashkan Amiri.

4. Civil engineering takes you around the world

Many people want jobs that involve travel, and if you’re a civil engineer, you’ve hit the jackpot.

"I knew before that you could move to a different country to work,” says Bianca Wheeler. “But never quite understood the large scale of opportunities and project roles that exist, particularly in the civil engineering industry.”

And it’s not all work and no play.

"You get to work with a diverse range of people from all over the world, and before you know it, you have a contact list of international friends that can offer you technical engineering advice, but also help you plan your next holiday if you plan to visit their home country,” says Ramdeen.

5. Civil engineering needs and thrives on diversity

It's not just an engineer's work that's always different from one day to another.

Engineers come from all backgrounds, and the work they produce is richer for it. 

"The varied nature of the profession means that it requires people with different skillsets and experiences to work together," says Jamie Arnott, graduate engineer working in marine and floating structures at consultancy Wallace Stone LLP. 

"This variety and demand for varying skillsets means that civil engineering can be accessible for all."

6. Civil engineers help fight climate change

If you want a job where you can play a tangible role in fighting climate change, then civil engineering is for you.

Historically, the industry has been a great producer of carbon, and many in the industry are now working to reverse this. 

For example, Skye Dick, senior structural engineer at Mott MacDonald, focuses her work on lowering carbon emissions through building designs. 

"As an engineer, the carbon savings which can be made are significant compared to any personal differences that I can make," says Skye Dick, senior structural engineer at Mott MacDonald. 

"Over the next 27 years, civil engineers will help to overcome the challenge of building and maintaining the infrastructure required for an increasing population with no negative environmental effects.

"I love that I can contribute to achieving the global net zero carbon goals through my work."

7. Civil engineering makes a tangible difference to people’s lives

This has to be the number one reason why civil engineers believe their chosen career is the best.

Many of the projects they work on are for the benefit of the general public and local communities.

"You’ll make a huge, positive difference to the world,” says David Waboso.

Major Rob Ridley agrees: “There are as many different types of engineer as you can imagine, but they’re all solving people’s problems. From ensuring the basics, like plenty of clean water in our taps to designing and building the places we live, work and play in, all over the world.”

With sustainability high on everyone’s agenda, Ashkan Amiri points out how civil engineering is the “most active way to help the environment, with a constant push to be more sustainable and to think of solutions to climate issues, to then building those solutions".

"Most structures today are designed to last more than 100 years," says Emma Watkins.

"Knowing that I’ve helped build something that my children and grandchildren may use is a real source of pride for me."

  • Anh Nguyen, digital content lead at ICE