Advice for:

Students 16-19 years

Your study options if you want to become a civil engineer

With your GCSEs (or equivalent) under your belt you can carry on studying in sixth form/college, start an apprenticeship, or a vocational course.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Stay on at school or college and do:

  • A-levels. The usual route to secure a place at university and progress to Chartered Engineer after graduation. Subjects should include maths. Physics is also a good idea and is required by some universities.
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma or Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment – Civil Engineering. This may lead to professional qualification as an Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer
  • An apprenticeship where you work and study part-time which again can lead to gaining Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer status

Scotland

Stay on at school or college and do:

  • Highers and maybe Advanced Highers. The usual route to secure a place at university and progress to Chartered Engineer after graduation. Subjects should include maths. Physics is also a good idea and is required by some universities
  • Higher National Certificate in Civil Engineering (Scotland). This may lead to professional qualification as an Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer
  • A Modern Apprenticeship where you work while studying part-time for an SVQ. Again this can lead to qualification as an Engineering Technician or Incorporated Engineer

International

Stay on at school or college and do:

  • Academic (e.g. baccalaureate diplomas) and vocational or technical education choices are available in most countries. Talk to a teacher or careers advisor to decide which option is best for you and what subjects you need to study.
  • Usually maths and physics are required to gain access to higher education civil engineering courses.
  • It’s a good idea to research which colleges and universities in your country teach civil engineering and check their entry requirements. If you’re thinking about studying civil engineering at university in the UK you might find the UCAS website useful.

Qualifications and subjects for civil engineers

A-levels and Highers

A-levels and Highers subjects for a civil engineering career

Maths

Engineers use maths to understand the theory of engineering and to analyse materials and structures.

Physics

Studying physics helps you understand concepts such as energy, forces and motion, which are key to solving problems engineers face on a daily basis.

Geography and geology

Understanding the physical world – like the behaviour of rivers, tides and currents in the sea, and the strengths of different rocks and soils – is important in civil engineering.

Information and communications technology

Computer programmes and digital applications are integral to the civil engineering process. These skills are much in demand.

Languages

Civil engineering is an international profession and languages help you to work and live abroad.

Art and Design

Engineers are creative problem solvers and help design the built environment.

Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships in the UK

As an apprentice you 'earn while you learn'. Apprenticeships combine part-time study (usually at a local college or university) with a job. You can build up technical skills and industry knowledge and your employer pays for your courses.

With government encouragement big engineering employers have significantly boosted the number of apprenticeships available. They run from 2 years for Level 3 apprenticeships (equivalent to the A-levels) or 5 years for degree level apprenticeships.

At the end of your apprenticeship you should be in a full-time, permanent job, have an industry recognised qualification and no student fee debt.

You can approach engineering companies direct for apprenticeship opportunities. Or, go to the 'Find out more about apprenticeships' section below.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Level 3 apprenticeships develop your academic knowledge and give you on-the-job experience. Study for BTEC Level 3 (classroom-based learning) and be able to get an NVQ or ICE's own Diploma in Civil Engineering for Technicians (based on what you learn at work).

Beyond level 3 you could progress to a higher or degree apprenticeship which normally includes an HND, HNC, foundation degree or bachelor's degree.

Apprenticeships to look at include:

  • The Railway Engineering Design Technician Apprenticeship
  • The Civil Engineering Technician Apprenticeship
  • The Civil Engineer Degree Apprenticeship
  • The Construction Site Engineering Technician Apprenticeship
  • The Civil Engineer Site Manager Degree Apprenticeship

For these apprenticeships, ICE will carry out the End-Point Assessment in combination with the appropriate professional review. This enables apprentices to gain professionally qualified membership of ICE and registration with the Engineering Council as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Engineering Technician (Eng Tech) at the end of their course.

Scotland

Choose between a Foundation, Modern or Graduate Apprenticeship depending on whether you wish to study in school or in work. Modern Apprenticeships can be used to progress onto degree level Graduate Apprenticeships.

Find out more about apprenticeships

Vocational qualifications

Vocational qualifications in the UK

Vocational courses have been developed by industry bodies and employers to provide the skills most needed by the civil engineering industry. Level 3 is equivalent to A-levels. Assessment is usually modular and project-based with less emphasis on formal exams.

They are available at further education colleges, universities or private training providers.

If you later apply to university some may view them less favourably than a selection of A-levels.

Vocational qualification examples include BTECs, NVQs, SVQs (in Scotland), and City & Guilds. The 3 most relevant qualifications in civil engineering are:

  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment – Civil Engineering
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment – Civil Engineering
  • Higher National Certificate in Civil Engineering (Scotland)

These are equivalent to A-levels and meet university entrance requirements for a BEng or MEng or a foundation degree, HNC or HND.

ICE QUEST scholarships and awards

ICE's QUEST scheme offers scholarships and awards for students, graduates and professionally qualified members at any level.

“​‌

Having the QUEST Undergraduate Scholarship on my CV shows employers that I have the drive to excel as a civil engineer and has contributed to my success in achieving internships – even in my first year.

Theodore Jemmott

University of Bristol

Why civil engineering is for me

I want to become a civil engineer.

See how your studies lead to a civil engineering career

The job you end up with in civil engineering is likely to link back to what you studied at school, college or university. Here you can see your options at any age.

Advice for:

At school

Up to 16 years

College / university

18 years +

Change career

Any age