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National Careers Week: why choose civil engineering?

01 March 2021

For this year's National Careers Week (1 -5 March 2021), we've compiled all the resources you need to help you decide if civil engineering is the calling for you. 

National Careers Week: why choose civil engineering?

Congratulations on getting this far - we applaud you for taking the important step of exploring exciting options for your future career. We're hoping our NCW2021 page will show you that civil engineering is a massively varied industry with a role to suit just about anyone - especially if you want to shape our world and can think big - so please read on and prepare to be inspired...

Latest news

Modern, adaptable and transferable, a career in civil engineering can build more than bridges

A report has revealed that personal skills will outweigh technical ones in the makeup of the future workforce.

This means that while technical skills, like maths and physics, are important for engineering, soft skills, such as cultural awareness, will have even greater value.

The Future of Work Guide 2021 from National Careers Week said that key skills the future workforce will need include computer or ‘tech-savvy’ skills – such as coding – and data literacy.

These ‘technical’ attributes are outweighed, however, by the list of ‘personal’ skills the report cites, like emotional intelligence, cultural and global awareness, resilience and adaptability.

Companies also need great networkers, communicators and critical thinkers, plus those who can be creative and innovate, solve problems and be entrepreneurial.

In addition, future workers also need to be able to take responsibility for their own learning, because the world is changing constantly.

How some young civil engineers today demonstrate the future skills

Being entrepreneurial

Michelle Hicks started her career as a civil engineer at Chessington World of Adventures designing and maintaining rides and other park infrastructure.

After developing her experience, she co-founded Firefly Creations to create the next generation of exciting entertainment experiences.

Bursting with ideas

Civil engineers are tackling the biggest problems our world is facing – working towards carbon net zero and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for green energy, sustainable cities, clean water and resilient infrastructure amongst others.

Civil engineering students from Edinburgh University have built and tested the UK’s first hyperloop prototype (a futuristic form of travel with ‘pods’ whizzing in a high-speed vacuum).

Other bright ideas in civil engineering include self-healing concrete (potentially saving millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions for replacing cracked structures), energy generating floors (from people’s footfall), controlled rocking systems to offset the energies of earthquakes and, already in wide use, computer models to predict what will happen to a structure in use.

An eye for design

Roma Agrawal was a graduate engineer of around 23 when she helped design The Shard in London – still Western Europe’s tallest building and one of the world’s most elegant scrapers.

She has since judged on C4s Lego Masters, written a book (Built) and starred in a Marks & Spencer’s advert no less! She has said she’s inspired in her own designs by the beauty of buildings all over the world and is regularly found ‘stroking concrete in public’!

Why civil engineering?

Hear from ICE President Rachel Skinner and other famous voices about the mission for civil engineers to meet a key environmental target - to protect lives and our planet for future generations.

Fast forward to the future

If you study to become a civil engineer you'd be joining a profession with over 200 years of learning and experience, but you'd also be using and testing some of newest, most cutting edge tools and technologies as the industry is rapidly modernising.

Be a problem solver

Civil engineers solve problems to make all our lives better every day - from working out how to build strong structures and durable roads to clean energy solutions. Check out these fun 200-second videos of civil engineers doing demos of their problem solving at home, from our Pitch 200 competition.

Watch now

Creativity isn't just for artists

Find out why Brittany Harris sidestepped a career in musical theatre for engineering.

Read more

Have pride in your career

Inclusivity in our industry is fast-recognised as vitally important to success and helping civil engineers meet key targets like the United National Sustainability Goals (UN SDGs). Find out the latest thoughts from LGBTQ+ ICE engineers on industry, and having pride in their careers from our LGBTQ+ History Month page.

Meet some of our LGBTQ+ engineers

I love seeing people's reaction...

Elaine Campbell loves her job as an offshore engineer and is on a mission to get more girls into industry.

Read Elaine's story

Engineering happiness

Engineers are happy people -it's true! We made this special film following the London 2012 Olympics to give our civil engineers the chance to show the world how their job makes them feel.

Campus catch-up

Civil engineering is an exciting course to study - one which leads directly to a clear career path after graduation. Hear all about it from Sam - a civil engineering student studying at Durham University - interviewed by YouTube star and mate Jack Edwards during lockdown in 2020.

Earn while you learn

Apprenticeships are big news in 2021. If you thought they were just for manual jobs think again, as you can get a civil engineering apprenticeship in every type of role including design, transport, highways, structures and from entry level right up to programmes where you end up with a master's degree (but no debt!). Check out our recent National Apprenticeship Week round-up for the full lowdown.

Find out more


Check out our Inspiration Talks videos for a complete programme of careers conversations by civil engineers on subjects like engineering a better environment, saving lives, apprenticeships, and more.

Watch now

Find out more

We've got tons of inspirational engineer profiles, civil engineering project case studies and great careers advice on our inspiration minisite - check it out now for absolutely anything else you need to know about careers in our industry.

  • Kathryn Denham-Maccioni, digital engagement manager at ICE