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What does a
Civil Engineer do?

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Other common names for this position: Airport Engineer, Appraisal Engineer, Architectural Engineer, Asphalt Engineer, Bridge Engineer, Building Envelope Engineer, Buildings and Bridge Engineer, Cartographic Engineer, Chief Civil Engineer, Civil Inspection Engineer, Coastal Engineer, Concrete Engineer, Construction Engineer, Construction Project Engineer, Consulting Civil Engineer, County Engineer, District Engineer, Drainage Design Engineer, Erecting Engineer, Foundation Engineer, Geodetic Engineer, Geomatics Engineer, Highway Engineer, Hydraulics Engineer, Hydrographic Engineer, Hydrological Engineer, Irrigation and Drainage Engineer, Irrigation Engineer, Land Drainage Engineer, Mapping Engineer, Municipal Engineer, Navigation and Positioning Engineer, Noise Abatement Engineer, Ocean Engineer, Photogrammetric Engineer, Pollution Control Engineer, Precision Survey Engineer, Public Health Engineer, Public Works Engineer, Rail Transportation Traffic Engineer, Reclamation Engineer, Remote Sensing Engineer, River and Canal Works Engineer, Sanitary Engineer, Sanitation Engineer, Sewage Control Engineer, Soil Engineer, Solid Waste Management Engineer, Spatial Information Systems Engineer, Structural Design Engineer, Structural Engineer, Survey Engineer, Surveying Engineer, Traffic Engineer, Traffic Operations Engineer, Transportation Engineer, Tunnel Engineer, Urban Road System Engineer, Water and Sewer Engineer, Water Management Engineer, Water Resources Engineer, Water Systems Engineer, Water Treatment Engineer


Civil Engineers are in charge of planning, designing, developing, and managing projects for the construction, repair, and maintenance of buildings, structures, powerhouses, roads, airports, railways, rapid transit facilities, bridges, tunnels, canals, dams, ports, as well as coastal installations and systems related to highway and transportation services, water distribution and sanitation. They may also specialize in foundation analysis, building and structural inspection, surveying, geomatics, and municipal planning. Civil engineers are employed by Engineering consulting companies, government organizations, construction firms, and in many other industries.[1]

Civil Engineering can be divided into two general categories: consulting and contracting. Consulting Civil Engineers are responsible for designing the project alongside the Architect, while Contracting Civil Engineers are in charge of creating the structure itself.[2]

Primary Responsibilities

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Civil Engineers are required to complete.

  • Planning and designing major civil projects, such as buildings, roads, bridges, dams, water and waste management systems, and structural steel fabrications:
  • Consulting and liaising with clients and other members of the Engineering team and conducting research to determine the project’s requirements;
  • developing construction specifications and procedures;
  • working alongside the Architect to carry out the designs;
  • interpreting, reviewing, and approving survey and civil design work;
  • estimating costs for materials, equipment, and labor, as well as time schedules;
  • evaluating, testing, and recommending appropriate building and construction materials, as well as working with quantity surveyors and estimators to source, procure, and check the quantity and quality of construction materials, heavy Engineering equipment, and other necessary tools;
  • conducting field services for civil works, testing the soil and grounds;
  • establishing and monitoring construction work schedules;
  • preparing contract documents, as well as reviewing and evaluating tenders for the construction project;
  • monitoring air, water, and soil quality in order to develop procedures to clean up contaminated sites;
  • conducting technical analyses of survey and field data for development of topographic, soil, hydrological, or other information and preparing the corresponding reports; and
  • overseeing and managing all the phases of the project to ensure conformance to specifications, resolving differences related to contract interpretation, and dealing with complaints, as required.
  • Performing condition assessments, recognizing technical deficiencies, recommending remedial measures, preparing and/or coordinating design changes for buildings, structures, powerhouses, roads, airports, railways, rapid transit facilities, bridges, tunnels, canals, dams, and ports:
  • Working with vendors and suppliers in order to resolve problems affecting equipment performance and recommending design changes based on operating experiences and condition assessments.
  • Liaising with public and private sector clients, government review and approval agencies, sub-consultants, and subcontractors:
  • Dealing with all aspects of obtaining building permits and interacting with city officials.
  • Acting as a project or site supervisor for land survey or construction work.
  • Supervising the work of Technicians, Technologists, and other Engineers.
    • Conducting feasibility studies, economic analyses, municipal and regional traffic studies, environmental impact studies, or other related investigations:
    • Presenting their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions.
    • Keeping up-to-date on the latest trends and developments within the construction industry, such as newly-enacted legislations, and gathering information on new tools, procedures, and techniques.
    • Ensuring construction plans meet guidelines and specifications of building codes and other regulations, such as the Canadian National Building Code (NBC), plumbing and gas code, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes, as well as industry practices, regulations, standards, and other applicable codes:
    • Making sure that every structure built is environmentally compliant and can withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.

    Daily Tasks

    • Analyzing survey reports, designs, maps, and other data in order to plan projects.
    • Considering construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors during the planning stages.
    • Testing the soil and grounds to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations.
    • Testing the building materials to be used in the projects.
    • Providing cost estimates for materials, equipment, and labor which will determine a project’s economic feasibility.
    • Using computer-aided design (CAD) software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures complying with industry and government standards.
    • Overseeing surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction activities.

    The average Civil Engineer salary is $74,099 per year or $38 per hour. This is around 2.3 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $52,000 while most experienced workers make up to $104,000. These results are based on 191 salaries extracted from job descriptions.

    Gross Salary100,970.25 $
    CPP- 2,479.95 $
    EI- 930.60 $
    Federal Tax- 17,164.79 $
    Provincial Tax- 9,179.88 $
    Total Tax- 29,755.22 $
    Net Pay*71,215.03 $
    In Ontario, Canada, if you make 100,970.25 $ a year, you will be taxed 29,755.22 $. That means that your take home pay will be 71,215.03 $ per year, or 5,934.59 $ per month. Your average tax rate is 29.47% and your marginal tax rate is 43.41%.
    * Deductions are calculated based on the tables of Ontario, Canada income tax.
    Job Offers
    There are currently 2651 available job offers for the Civil Engineer position on Below is a list of available jobs, based on Canada's most populated metropolitan areas.
    Education is key ! Over [number] graduates attended one or more of these schools prior to becoming a Civil Engineer. These Schools usually offer specialized courses and programs that impart the necessary knowledge and skills required by most employers.
    Top 5 Schools in Canada
    to become Civil Engineer
    • 1
      Montreal, Quebec
    • 2
      Montreal, Quebec
    Required Skills and Qualifications
    • Excellent interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills:
    • Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with coworkers and clients;
    • being able to lead a team of Technicians, Surveyors, Construction Managers, and other Engineers in order to implement the project plan; and
    • being able to read and write technical reports.
    • Mathematical skills:
    • Using the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced math topics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting; and
    • applying basic Engineering concepts and other processes to their designs and projects.
    • Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills:
    • Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner using critical thinking and good judgment;
    • being able to work at the highest level of planning, design, construction, and operation of complex projects with many variables that require the ability to evaluate and solve intricate problems; and
    • being precise and accurate in their calculations and analyses.
    • Outstanding decision-making skills in order to determine the project’s feasibility with regard to financial costs and safety concerns.
    • Organizational and time management skills and great attention to detail:
    • Avoiding disorganization in construction sites that can lead to legal problems, damage to equipment, and potential accidents;
    • being able to work independently and as part of a team in a fast-paced environment; and
    • being able to prioritize tasks and responsibilities accordingly.

    The minimum educational requirement for applicants in this field is a bachelor’s degree in Civil or Structural Engineering. Candidates with relevant postgraduate degrees, such as masters (MEng) or Ph.D.’s, tend to have the advantage over other candidates when applying for a job in the area. Civil Engineers may also specialize in Geotechnical Engineering, which focuses on building structures; Structural Engineering, which emphasizes on dams and bridges; or Transportation Engineering, which includes building streets, highways, and other everyday structures and systems. Employers usually ask for 5 to 10 years of related Engineering experience.

    All candidates applying for a Civil Engineer job must be proficient in specialized CAD software, especially Civil 3D, as well as being a registered professional in their corresponding province. Only licensed Engineers can practice this career in Canada. The provincial and territorial Engineering regulatory bodies are the constituent associations of Engineers Canada and are the ones in charge of regulating the profession and licensing professional Engineers in Canada.

    Civil Engineers with more than 10 years of experience may move into more senior positions, such as Project Managers or Functional Managers of design, construction, operation, or maintenance. Career progression for Civil Engineers depends on overall project experience, performance, and completion of professional qualifications. As the candidate gains more expertise, they will begin to take on bigger and better projects or they could choose to retire from on-site contracting work and become a Consulting Civil Engineer opening their own firm. Becoming a freelance Engineer is a feasible option when they have enough experience and an established reputation.

    A Civil Engineer’s work schedule consists mainly of office-based design work, client meetings, and interactions with professionals from other disciplines, as well as working on-site during construction stages and the finishing stages of all projects. When directing projects, Civil Engineers may need to work extra hours to monitor the progress of the overall projects, to ensure that the design meets the client’s requirements and that the deadlines are met.

    Civil Engineers need a valid driver’s licence and a good driving record, as well as a reliable mean of transportation, in order to get themselves to job sites within their designated area. Moreover, Civil Engineers employed by multinational construction companies may be assigned to work on projects in a different location (national or international) for short or long periods of time.