HomeCareer TalkExploreAn Overview of Career Opportunities in Civil Engineering - Part 1

An Overview of Career Opportunities in Civil Engineering – Part 1

Civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering and is even referred to as the ‘Mother of Engineering’. This branch of engineering deals with the planning, design, construction and maintenance of structures such as buildings, roads, dams, canals, bridges, airports and sewerage systems. Major streams of specialization under civil engineering include Structural Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Water Resource Engineering and Environmental Engineering.

Structural engineering deals with the structural design of buildings and is concerned with the safety, stability and economy in construction. Geotechnical engineering involves the study of soil, its behaviour and thereby determines the type of foundation and also the design of foundation for various structures. Transportation engineering deals with safe, economic and efficient movement of people and goods. It involves the planning, design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure like roads, traffic signals, intersections, railways, ports, harbours and airports. Water Resource engineering deals with planning and designing irrigation system and also involves controlling and harnessing various natural sources of water through activities such as constructing dams, canals and reservoirs. Environmental engineering involves dealing with measures to control air, water and noise pollution, recycling methods, waste disposal measures and practices for improving the environment for the betterment of human life. Construction management is another attractive area where one can specialize in managing civil engineering projects.

Basic Skills Required:

It is important to understand what sort of natural inclinations or skills are required for any profession, before we go into it. Civil engineering may be a good option for you if you have many of the inclinations listed below:

  • Interest and proficiency in Mathematics and Physics.
  • Analytical skills needed for structural analysis and design.
  • Logical reasoning skills for decision-making.
  • Time management skills and leadership skills for project management.
  • Ability to communicate through drawings, since drawing is the primary language of a civil engineer.
  • Moderate writing skills for preparing documents such as project reports.

Opportunities:

There are various avenues that can be pursued after obtaining a degree in civil engineering. Some of these are:

  • Higher Studies: Students can appear for GATE examinations in the pre-final year itself. A valid GATE score can bring ample opportunities for Central Government jobs as well as for higher education. A high GATE score can pave the way to admission in premier institutes like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs). After B.Tech, Civil Engineering students can opt for an M. Tech or ME in Civil Engineering, or M.Planning /MS from foreign universities. Acquiring an MBA degree after graduation may also improve career opportunities.
  • Government Sector: Various opportunities are available for a Civil Engineering graduate in State and Central Public Works Departments (PWD), Local Self Government (LSGD), State Water Authorities, Pollution Control Boards, Town Planning Departments, and so on. The types of work in this sector include quantity surveying, planning and structural design. A Post-graduation in Environmental Engineering would open up a larger scope in Pollution Control Boards, whereas an M. Planning degree is desirable for advancing career prospects in Town Planning Departments.
  • Private Sector (India and abroad): Ample opportunities are available for civil engineers to land jobs in construction and infrastructure companies as site supervisors, quantity surveyors, design engineers and project managers, both in India and abroad. Additional courses can be taken in estimation and quantity surveying, in order to become a successful quantity surveyor.
  • Education Sector/Research: Teaching is a rewarding avenue which post graduates can pursue. Opportunities are available in both private and public educational institutions. For undertaking research, graduates must either have a valid GATE score or qualify by securing adequate marks in the entrance test of the respective university/college. Research fellowships are offered in research organizations, as well as premier institutes like the IITs.
  • Entrepreneurship: One of the main advantages of choosing Civil Engineering as a profession is that right after graduation, one can become a licensed engineer by passing a test, and start one’s own business.

Challenges:

There are some unique challenges that come with this profession, as with any other field. Some of these are:

  • One must be prepared to work under all weather conditions.
  • Working days can sometimes extend upto 12 -14 hours, as the nature of assignments demand.
  • One must keep upgrading oneself with knowledge of the latest technologies in the construction field and the latest softwares used for planning and design.
  • It may not be a field that is very lucrative in terms of starting packages. However, as time goes on, this profession can eventually become as rewarding as any other, for those who excel.
  • Increasing automation and the use of artificial intelligence is leading to fierce competition within the field.
  • Jobs in the construction industry may sometimes be disproportionately challenging for women.

Of course, if approached right, even the biggest challenges can turn into opportunities. This holds true within civil engineering as well. It is a field that can be very tough, but also very rewarding for those who are enterprising and willing to work hard and constantly learn.

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