What you need to know as a Civil/Structural Engineering Graduate
Civil and structural engineers are concerned with creating and maintaining the infrastructure that make up the dynamic systems that that exist in Australia’s urban environment in a sustainable way. They are involved in the planning, design, construction, testing and management of: roads, bridges, railways, harbours and airports that form our interconnected transportation system, as well as the existing physical infrastructure in our modern society, such as the components that make up our waterway networks (pipelines, dams) or sewerage system. As the foundation of a well-functioning society and economic prosperity, civil engineering graduates can expect many opportunities opening up in the civil engineering industry. Although employment opportunities do fluctuate depending on the building and construction industry, employment rates have risen 24.3% in the last 5 years and is expected to remain steady through to 2017.1
What you need to know about Civil Engineering Careers
Civil engineers alternate between drawing up plans in the office, (as part of an engineering department in a large firm or specialized engineering firm) and working on site to ensure the smooth running of a construction project. They can find employment in a private consulting engineering firms and service providers, construction companies, as well as in departments at all levels of the government (local, state, federal). Opportunities are also available to travel interstate and overseas depending on the project.
The most frequently reported occupations are respectively:2
- Design/Engineering/Science/Transport Professionals
- Engineering/ICT/Science technicians
- Specialist managers.
There is much debate over the benefits of pursuing a masters degree in a specialized area of civil engineering. However, whether or not it is worth your time and financial input will vary depending on what job you want, your experience, as well as the competitiveness of your desired private or public firm. As such, students should research the requirements of their desired role to consider whether or not they should undertake post-graduate study. None-the-less, a bachelor degree is enough to land a good civil engineering graduate job and graduate students with a civil/Structural engineering degree have opportunities to specialise in a diverse range of areas further down their career path. Roles include:
- Airport Engineer
- Coastal engineer
- Construction engineers
- Geotechnical/soil engineers
- Harbour Engineer
- Hydraulic/Water Resources Engineer
- Irrigation/Drainage Engineer
- Local Government Engineer
- Materials and Testing Engineer
- Pipeline Engineer
- Railway Engineer
- Structural engineers
- Town Planning Engineer
- Transportation and Highways Engineer
In Australia, the median starting salary for civil/structural engineering bachelor graduates is also approximately $62,000.2 however, the overall average salary for a civil engineers across all ages is approximately $71,000 and for a Structural Engineer, $70,500 per annum. Despite a Structural engineers lower average income, the role of a structural engineer is a career progression from being a civil engineer and is often associated with higher income for individuals who have project management skills and prior experience.3
Positioning yourself effectively to employers
Popular Skills for civil and structural engineering jobs:
- Microsoft office
- Microsoft Excel
- Engineering Design
- Project Management.
Tips and Advice for future Civil Engineer Graduates
- Apply for work experience or placements during university vacation periods if your degree does not offer industrial placement. Being part of a construction or civil engineering setting can expand your network exposes you to how projects are planned and executed.
- Apart from having a good understanding of the foundations of engineering (science, maths, computing), students should participate in a range of activities such as volunteer work, university clubs/societies or part-time/casual work that can demonstrate the skills necessary and applicable to any workplace: Communication, leadership, problem-solving skills, analytical and decision-marking abilities, flexibility and enthusiasm.
- Students should also choose the right degree electives/modules and topic for their final-year engineering project. Those who have topics that align with or are related to the graduate position they apply for upon leaving university have a higher chance of getting hired to that specific division as it demonstrates their interest in that topic.
Top companies that are hiring civil/structural engineering graduates in Australia:
For a comprehensive list of top employers, visit here.
1Open.edu.au,. 'Engineers (Civil) - Career Advice And Salary Guide - Open Universities Australia'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 June 2015.
2Graduatecareers.com.au,. 'Civil Engineering – Bachelor Graduates (Under 25) | Graduate Careers Australia'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 June 2015.
3Payscale.com,. 'Civil Engineer Salary (Australia)'. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 June 2015.