A Civil Engineer oversees the construction, repair, and maintenance of buildings and other infrastructures (e.g. bridges, roads, railways, tunnels, and even sewage systems). Most Civil Engineers work for engineering and construction firms, although they can also be found in many other industries.
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.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Civil Engineers are required to complete.
- Planning and designing important construction projects (e.g. buildings, roads, or bridges):
- Consulting and liaising with clients and other members of the engineering team, as well as conducting research to establish the project’s requirements and to determine its feasibility;
- working alongside the Architect to carry out the designs;
- establishing the project’s agenda and guidelines;
- creating and assigning work schedules for the construction project;
- reviewing and approving construction plans and survey data;
- conducting tests to assess the quality of the soil and grounds, as well as the air and water, resolving any issues associated with site contamination;
- estimating costs for materials, equipment, and labour;
- deciding on which materials, equipment, and tools to use, based on the required quality and quantity;
- receiving and approving submissions, drafting construction agreements accordingly; and
- being available on site to supervise the project’s progress, to ensure its compliance with established specifications, and to provide expert advice when necessary.
- Assessing the conditions of the different structures and infrastructures in order to pinpoint any technical deficiencies and be able to resolve them accordingly.
- Coordinating and liaising with clients, suppliers, government authorities, approval agencies, and subcontractors:
- Liaising with vendors and suppliers to improve performance of malfunctioning equipment;
- obtaining building permits and interacting with city officials; and
- supervising the work of other Engineers and Technicians.
- Carrying out research on environmental and economic impact of construction projects and sharing their findings with colleagues and with the general public.
- Keeping up-to-date on the latest trends and developments within the construction industry, such as new tools, procedures, and techniques, as well as any applicable legislation.
- Making sure the project’s specifications and designs comply with the industry’s standards, such as the Canadian National Building Code (NBC), plumbing and gas code, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes, as well as the industry’s most common practices and any other applicable regulations.
- Carrying out a thorough analysis of the project’s specifications, along with the survey data.
- Establishing the project’s agenda and guidelines.
- Estimating the cost of the project, including materials, equipment, and labour.
- Determining and acquiring the necessary construction materials, equipment, and tools.
- Using computer-aided design (CAD) software to plan and design different systems and to ensure compliance with the applicable regulations.
- Overseeing and guiding construction activities to ensure they meet the client's requirements.
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.
- 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 multidisciplinary team in achieving their established objectives; and
- being able to read and write technical reports.
- Mathematical skills:
- Applying basic engineering concepts, complex mathematical theories, 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 a project’s feasibility, taking into account all 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 master’s (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 ensuring the structures are solidly built; Structural Engineering, which emphasizes on dams and bridges, and other large structures; 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 regulatory bodies for all Engineering careers in this country are the ones associated to Engineers Canada, which is in charge of overseeing all matters related to this field, including licensing.
Having more than 10 years of experience, an excellent performance, and great professional qualifications in the area allows a Civil Engineer to go up the career ladder by growing into more senior positions (e.g. Project Manager or Functional Manager). Eventually, a Senior Civil Engineer who has gained enough experience and recognition could choose to retire in order to become a full-time consultant, or even open their own firm.
A Civil Engineer’s work schedule includes working on designs, meeting with potential and established clients, liaising with other professionals, and working on construction sites during the different stages of the project. Working extra hours while directing a project is not uncommon; Civil Engineers must 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. These professionals may also be obligated to travel for meetings abroad or to work on international construction sites.