Civil engineering job description

Civil engineer job duties:

Civil engineers or tasks typically do some or all of the following:
- Evaluate all the data (survey reports, maps, etc) necessary for planning the projects successfully
- Think about all the potential factors that can have some negative impact on work (for example environmental hazards, government regulations and construction costs)
- Check the soil thoroughly to see if foundations are appropriate or not
- Analyze all the materials needed for building (steel, asphalt, concrete, etc) and recommend the best one
- Calculate how much would cost labor and equipment. Also calculate quantity of materials in specific project in order to set the budget and ensure safe and timely delivery
- Design hydraulic and transportation systems, according to government, industry and all other standards
- Supervise surveying ( or be the part of one) in order to define grades and reference points, necessary to guide constructions
- Show publicly their research results on different topics such as environment, property descriptions, etc.

Occupational Titles - examples

• bridge engineer
• civil engineer
• construction engineer
• environmental engineer
• geodetic engineer
• geodetics engineer
• highway engineer
• hydraulics engineer
• municipal engineer
• project engineer, construction
• public works engineer
• sanitation engineer
• structural engineer
• surveying engineer
• traffic engineer
• transportation engineer
• water management engineer

Career overview

For civil engineering job description, today, this is one of the largest branches of civil engineering jobs for sure. Civil engineers make schemes of, create, oversee and maintain different kinds of big construction projects. They are responsible for tunnels, bridges, buildings, powerhouses, railways, canals, earth structures, coastal installations, rapid transit facilities, roads, airports, dams, systems for sewage treatment and systems for water supply and sanitation. Education, design, construction and research are also areas where many of civil engineers can be employed. They can eventually specialize in surveying, municipal planning, building and structural inspection and foundation analysis.

Duties of civil engineer:

Civil engineers typically some or all of the following:

- Evaluate maps, survey reports and all other data in order to plan projects professionally
- Analyze potential risks and environmental hazards, government regulations and construction costs while planning the stages
- Review and submit applications for local, state and federal agencies, proving that projects comply with all necessary regulations
- Test the soil in different ways in order to define the strength of foundations
- Test all the needed materials for particular projects
- Take care of project’s economic feasibility by calculating cost estimates for labor, material and equipment
- Design transportation and hydraulic systems and other structures by using design software
- Establish grades, points and elevations necessary for guiding the construction
- Present publicly their findings on different topics related to their occupation
- Take care of maintenance, repairing and replacement of infrastructure. Civil engineers may also work as supervisors or hold administrative positions. Some of them work in areas of design, teaching, construction or research. Civil engineers technicians often assist to civil engineers.

This kind of engineers when employed by federal government may inspect projects. In that case, their mission is to be sure the regulations are not violated in any way.

Civil engineers often specialize in few areas:
Transportation engineers – create, operate and maintain highways, streets and other smaller projects, but they also plan bigger projects as harbors, ports, airports and transit systems.
Construction engineers – ensure that construction projects are finished according to plan. They are often responsible for temporary structures.
Structural engineers - plan, design and access projects as dams, bridges and buildings, taking care of their main characteristics as durability and strength.
Geo-technical engineers – make sure that foundations are good and stable enough. They also check interaction between the building and soil.

Work environment

According to statistics, there are currently about 40 000 civil engineers working in Canada. Civil engineers work in public and private sector, in residential, commercial and industrial construction. They can also be employed in public administration, amusement park design, manufacturing and transportation systems. Civil engineers often work in multidisciplinary environment. They are surrounded with many professionals from science, management and other related areas.
Usual work place for civil engineers is office. Sometimes, they work outdoors on construction sites so they can supervise the process of building or solve some problem urgently. There is also a possibility for civil engineer of traveling to another country because of some big project.

According to National Household Survey data, those are industries that employed the most civil engineers in 2011:
Firms of engineers 53%
Public administration 16%
Construction industry 11%
Manufacturing sector 5%
Transportation industry 4%

Work schedules:

In 2011, big majority of Canadian civil engineers worked full time. 96.2% of civil engineers worked 40 hours or more a week and 3.8% of them worked part-time. Some of civil engineers work 8 to 10 hours a day, which means 40 to 50 hours weekly. Sometimes, they also work during nights and on weekends if there is a deadline soon or they need to solve a problem urgently.

Education and training:

It is required from civil engineers to have an undergraduate degree in civil engineering, construction and transportation. A master degree or doctorate in related engineering discipline may be required. For management-level jobs and certain specialities a graduate degree is an asset. An asset could be also participation in a cooperative education. In order to work and use the title of “engineer” it is required membership in Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ).


More than 90% of civil engineers in Canada hold bachelor degree. About 7.3% of them are post-secondary. Less than 1% of civil engineers have high-school education or less.
Although the number of graduates increased from less than 180 to close to 650 between 2003 and 2011, the labor market situation is very good for civil engineers and the unemployment rate is very low. The reason for this could be the growth in civil engineering and roads sector. According to the provincial government relance survey, labor market status for Canadian civil engineers will stay very good in coming years.

Important qualities

Math skills. Calculus, trigonometry and other topics from mathematics are necessary in civil engineering work. Very precise results are absolutely important in order to finish the project properly.

Decision-making skills. Civil engineers must be able to give advice quickly and successfully balance between conflicting objectives. They have to make decisions quickly, but carefully.

Planning and organizational skills. Civil engineers must oversee the process of building in order to assure the work is done according the project they made. They have to be good at managing time and resources if they want to achieve good results.
Writing skills. It is important for civil engineers to write reports clearly so everyone they are working with can understand them. Those engineers work with regional and urban planners, architects and many other professionals. All of them should communicate on daily basis without problems.
Leadership skills. Civil engineers must be able to lead technicians, construction managers, surveyors and others during the process of implementing the project. They must have strong personality and ability to motivate in every moment.
Critical thinking and problems-solving skills. Multiple and complex problems in areas of design, planning and construction require instant and right reactions from civil engineers. Those problems must be evaluated and solved before they threat the whole project.
Financial management skills. Civil engineers must take care about the costs for material, equipment and labor. They have to ensure not too much money will be spent, but also high quality of the project is reached.
Oral communication and public speaking. Civil engineers have to communicate clearly with many professionals every day. They also have to present their projects publicly in a way everyone could understand easily.

Licenses, certifications and registrations :

All civil engineers in Canada must have licence by a provincial or territorial association of professional engineers if they want to approve their engineering reports and drawings. This license is necessary also if they want to practise as Professional Engineer (P.Eng.). After the graduation from an accredited educational program engineers can registrate. Before registration, they should also have three or four years of experience supervised by someone who already have Professional Engineer licence. Of course, they should pass professional practice examination. Some employers may require Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for certain positions. This certification is offered by the Canada Green Building Council.
Advancement :
For moving into positions of functional managers of construction, maintenance, design or operation, or positions of project managers, a civil engineer should have ample experience. Of course, they should have also Professional Engineering license. After getting a license, getting credentialing that attests to a Professional Engineer’s expertise in civil engineering specialty could be helpful, also.

Pay or civil engineer salary in Canada:

In 2015, the highest median annual wage for Canadian civil engineers was in Alberta. It was about 104 000$. The lowest median annual salary was in Prince Edward Island . Civil engineers in this province were paid about 67 000$ per year. According to statistics, national median weekly salary in 2016 is 1 500$. National median annual salary is about 78 000$.
In addition to the salary, civil engineers often get additional payments - pension plans, sick leave, dental coverage and paid vacations. There are some bonuses also, so the annual income for this occupation could be significantly increased.
In 2011, majority of Canadian civil engineers worked full-time. 96.2% of civil engineers worked 40 hours a week and 3.8% of them worked part-time.

Job outlook :

The number of civil engineers should increase slightly in years to come. According to National Household Survey Data, the number of immigrants in this occupation in 2011was 25%. It was slightly above the average and it will probably increase in coming years. Many employers are looking abroad to find the workers they need. Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec is already working on allowing foreigners to become members of this association before they even arrive in Canada. This should speed up the process of application and increase th number of newcommers in the ocupation of civil engineering.
In next few years, the high number of civil engineers will work in architectural, engineering and related services industry. Area of public administration will be popular too, just as area of heavy and civil engineering construction.
Civil engineers in Britih Columbia have the average age of 49 years but, according to forecast, this number will decline in next few years – it will be 44 in 2025. The reason is replacing of retired workers by new, young workforce made of fresh graduates. Similar situation will be in Manitoba. The average age of civil engineers there is 47 and it wil be 43 in few years because of new entrants.
In coming years, the highest median annual salary for civil engineers will be in Alberta. The wage in this part of Canada will be about 140 000 $. According the forecast, the lowest median annual wage will be in Prince Edward Island. It is expected for civil engineers in this province to be paid about 75 000 $ per year in 2025 because of low demand.
The highest number of job openings in next five years will be in British Columbia. The expected number in this province is 667 (338 due to expansion and 329 due to replacement). There will be almost no need for civil engineers in Prince Edward Island – just three new job openings are expected in next five years.
It is supposed that civil engineers will have a lot of work related to ecology in future. Water will be one of the main problems on Earth, so the new water systems will be required in coming years in order to replace old and broken one. More waste treatment plants will be needed for cleaning the waterways. Knowledge and work by civil engineers will be more than helpful in those situations. This occupation will have the main role in building renewable energy projects, related to solar and wind energy. The first part of civil engineer’s work will be will be preparing documents and checking if the project comply with federal, local and state regulations.

Job prospects : Participating in co-op programs while in colege could be helpful for higher achievements in this occupation. Following the latest trends in area of civil engineering is a plus today and tomorrow it will be a must.

For more information :

Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec
Réseau des ingénieurs Du Québec
Engineers Canada
Canadian Society for Civil Engineering
Commission de la construction du Québec

Similar job titles :

Construction Manager
Landscape Architect
Urban or Regional Planner
Civil Engineering Technician

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