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Professional Qualifications

Just like other professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, architects, teachers and accountants, members of a construction team also study for academic qualifications, train at work, and then obtain their professional qualifications through one of many professional institutions.

Professional qualifications are important in all sections of the industry, as they are an independent review by peers to confirm the technical and managerial competence and professional experience of individuals.

For example, in engineering there is a national body (the Engineering Council), which ensures that all institutions work to the same high standard.

There are three grades of professional qualification that the Council awards, common to all disciplines: Engineering Technician (EngTech), Incorporated Engineering (IEng) and Chartered Engineer (CEng).

An Engineering Technician (EngTech) has:

  • a BTECH/SCOTVEC National Certificate in Engineering;
  • training at the workplace;
  • a 'pass' from a professional review or examination set by a professional body.

An Incorporated Engineering (IEng) has:

  • an accredited BSc degree in Engineering;
  • training at the workplace;
  • a 'pass' from a professional review or examination set by a professional body.

A Chartered Engineering (CEng) has:

  • an accredited honours degree in Engineering;
  • a 'pass' from a professional review or examination set by a professional body.

Within civil engineering, for example, the Institution of Civil Engineers registers its qualified members with the Engineering Council.

Chartered engineers, who will normally be Members (MICE), study civil engineering to masters degree level and make sure that their chosen degree is accredited for membership. They will receive training during their first few years at work (professional development normally forming part of this), before submitting themselves for a professional review.

Gaining an academic qualification is just the beginning, on the road to becoming professionally qualified. The timing for the final assessment really depends on the experience gained, which only individuals and their employers will be able to judge. They are at the forefront of knowledge, creating rapid changes in the world. They are the managers of high risk and capital intensive projects in the construction industry. The training and experience will have given them a broad understanding of the engineering principles that guide and direct the construction industry.

Incorporated engineers, who will normally be Associate Members (AMICE), study civil engineering to the level of a BSc degree, and are trained at their workplace by their employer. This training will normally include both technical practice and professional development. When they have achieved the required levels of technical and professional competence, they submit themselves for a professional review. Often, as team leaders, incorporated engineers are responsible for the efficiency of the team in which they are working, and for carrying out tasks and solving engineering problems using up-to-date engineering knowledge. Incorporated engineers are regularly acknowledged as having a depth of understanding and expertise that develops them into specialists in their particular fields.

Engineering technicians and Technician members within the ICE study civil engineering to the level of a BTEC Certificate, and are trained at the workplace by their employer. They submit themselves for the professional review of the ICE when their training and experience has enabled them to reach the level of proficiency required by the Institution. They are normally responsible for solving engineering problems using standard procedures.

Civil engineers are successfully trained in an extraordinary variety of organisations, operating in research, design and construction, in both the public and private sectors. No longer are civil or structural engineers just the people who design steel bridges or concrete structures. There are many subject areas that span civil and structural engineering and the institutions, and between them, they welcome and invite membership from engineers in a wide variety of specialisms, in addition to the usually-perceived skills.

Your career will continue with learning in an academic style, as well as practical training and experience, throughout your working life. There will be various milestones as you progress. We never cease learning, albeit in different environments and by different methods, but it is the one constant thing that will always be happening.

What do Civil Engineers do?

Civil engineers turn complex ideas into reality. They help make some of the most innovative structures in the UK and abroad.

What do they do?

Civil engineers are involved in the design and construction of bridges, tunnels, roads, railway, dams, pipelines and major buildings. The infrastructure for transport, energy, industry and commerce is the result of civil engineering. Our society would not function without civil engineering products.

Civil engineers are usually found in one of the following organisations:

  • Contractors - who traditionally manage the construction work on site, develop and design construction processes and techniques and supervise a professional team
  • Consultants - who are concerned with the design and planning of projects and their effect on the environment
  • Public service organisation and utilities - who investigate the need for roads, bridges, tunnels, etc and then maintain and manage the structures once they are there.


As new ways of working evolve, the lines between these types of organisation are blurring. For example, all three types of organisation might pool their expertise to raise the money to design, build and maintain a really large project.

Generally speaking, civil engineers do different work from structural engineers who are involved primarily in the design of structures - that is, the shape and form of buildings, oil rigs, power stations, ports, airport. For this reason structural engineers work less on transport projects like roads and pipelines.

There are three kinds of civil engineer:

  • Engineering technician, who has basic knowledge of engineering principles and vital technical skills.
  • Incorporated engineer, who uses technical knowledge and good management skills to lead project teams
  • Chartered engineer, who is an innovator at the forefront of design solutions.

Civil engineering: highways
Highways civil engineering is concerned with improving, designing and maintaining roads of all sizes (from motorways to B-roads), in all sorts of location. Work can include:

  • Planning and supervising a wide range of projects
  • Presenting detailed designs
  • Taking into account the effect on the environment
  • Communicating and negotiating with clients and other professionals
  • Ensuring safety and efficiency of existing road networks
  • Preparing contract documentation
  • Site supervision.

Currently there is a high demand for highways engineers.

Civil engineering: transport
Chartered engineers specialising in the transport sector focus on the design, construction and maintenance of structures, supporting transport networks, such as bridges, tunnels and railway tracks. Their responsibilities include:

  • Using specialist knowledge of the ground or soil conditions to design tunnels, bridges, etc
  • Planning how to improve passenger comfort
  • Providing a transport system which will be safe, efficient and good value for money
  • Finding new solutions to transport problems
  • Overseeing the laying and alignment of railway tracks
  • Analysing the effects on the environment
  • Liaising with clients and other construction professionals.
    There is also a high demand for transport engineers.

Civil engineering: water and marine
This area of civil engineering encompasses all kinds of coastline developments including jetties, piers, harbour work, docks and flood protection, plus any other structures used for carrying, storing or distributing water and wastewater. The work can include:

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