If you are approaching the time that you will be entering the workforce and want a secure career then being a civil engineer should be on your radar. Since just about everything around us requires a civil engineer, you will never be out of work no matter what the economy is like.
Everything from public works such as bridges, dams, roads, railways, pipelines, airports, hospitals, and schools require a civil engineer. And this is just scratching the surface of the types of projects that you would be involved with.
And with the ever-growing role of technology in construction, you can even specialize in the technical side of things which opens up even more options for work. You’ll have to be dedicated and focused so you can develop the skills required to do the job. But with enough determination, you can find your way and thrive.
In this article, we will go over how to get on the path to becoming a civil engineer and what you should be thinking about it.
Attend an open day
Getting on the road to becoming a civil engineer is quite a commitment. It would be quite sad to get into university only to find that you don’t really like the subject and have changed your mind.
To avoid this scenario you should try to learn as much about the actual job and requirements beforehand. There are a lot of different types of jobs that involve civil engineering so knowing what they are ahead of time is helpful.
Attend an open house or job fair for civil engineers. There you will be in contact with the actual engineers that can give you an inside look at what the job entails. Of course, you’re only going to hear about the positives, but you will understand what is required and then decide if the job is for you.
You’ll get a good understanding of the training that you may get after your studies are over. There should even be students that are studying civil engineering and can help you understand what the workload is like as a student to be able to get through the degree phase.
Make sure to ask a lot of questions and try to find somebody that can be helpful to you even after the open day. It could be a student that takes you under their wing while you are at university. Or, you may be lucky enough to stay in contact with a civil engineer that can help guide you through the job-hunting process or put in a good word for you in his or her place of work.
University vs apprenticeship
Becoming a civil engineer is predicated on having the proper credentials and training. Many opt for going to university and getting a degree. This is not your only option to get the right credentials, however.
There is always the route of becoming an apprentice to get work experience while gaining the right credentials. It does take longer to go this route, but many decide to go this way anyway.
The benefits of becoming an apprentice are a few. For starters, you are gaining much more practical information through actual experience rather than the theoretical that comes with studying in classes. Taking a degree apprenticeship takes about six years but will also give you a degree at the end of it.
If you decide to go straight to university, you will be fast-tracked to getting the degree and qualifications to become a civil engineer. If you got some relevant experience during this time then you would be a very attractive candidate. However, if up against somebody that finished the apprenticeship you may be passed over since they have more practical experience.
If you opt to go the university route for a degree, then you can make your CV look a lot more attractive by making sure to get some experience while you study. During your studies look for internships that can be done during your breaks if possible. Or, you could opt for a year in an internship as a break from your studies to gain some more intense experience.
Your university may have a program already set up for students that look to get some work experience during their term. This is the easy way to go as most of the groundwork will be set up for you. If there is no program then you will have to do some research to find the right internship independently of your university.
The work is not likely to be anything interesting, but you will gain a valuable perspective by being on the inside of a company. Your experience there may even lead to a job from the very company you intern with so make sure to make a good impression.
Go for a master’s degree
The more educated you get about engineering the better your job prospects are. And your salary will reflect your educational standing with multiple degrees. You should definitely look to get the master’s once you have already gotten a job in the field, however. Practical experience does count for a lot and your master’s degree will only get you so far without it.
In some cases, your employer may also help you with the cost of getting your advanced degree so it is even more important to have a job first for this benefit. The other obvious benefit is to enjoy getting paid while you study as you can usually keep working while you study in your free time.
There are multiple routes to becoming a civil engineer. The one that’s best for you may not be for the next person. Make sure to explore all of your options so you can decide the best route to go based on your circumstances.
Once you are set out on your path towards becoming a civil engineer you should also make sure to create a network of peers. You can’t do it alone and your network will help you along the way.