Civil Engineer Career Information
What a Civil Engineer does
Civil Engineers handle all construction work. They are involved in the planning, research, survey and construction of all kinds of buildings as also roads, airports, dams, traffic and transportation systems, irrigation and power plants, water supply and sewage disposal plants, ports and harbours, oil rigs, etc. Basically, they are responsible for planning and designing a project and having it constructed to the required scale.
Civil Engineers also develop and maintain the nation's vital transportation and other infrastructure networks, improve public services, optimise the use of water and energy resources, upgrade housing and mass transportation systems, and protect natural environment.
Structural engineering, water management engineering, highway engineering and environmental engineering are some of the areas civil engineers specialise in. The civil engineer has to plan, research, survey and design the project and then get it constructed to the required scale.
Engineers are often the crucial link between the goal and reality. Once a company or government agency decides that it needs a certain product or process, the next step is for an engineer or team of engineers to create it as efficiently as possible within a budget. Engineers have a hand in all the phases of development, from idea conception, design and development, implementation and testing to customer support.
The engineers have to ensure that the structural framework of the building is strong enough to withstand the load for which it is being constructed and also should be able to withstand heat, cold and tremors. Engineers test and inspect products and structures to increase cost-effectiveness and safety.
You can start private practice as a consultant or work with municipalities, government construction, regulatory agencies, transportation authorities, architects or urban planners.
Others can seek employment in construction or manufacturing companies. You can also work for organisations like ONGC, Railways and various departments of state and central governments.
Employment opportunities exist in the government sector including the railways, departments of irrigation, public works, roads, airports, harbours municipal corporations, telecommunications departments, etc.
You can also work as a commissioned officer in the defence services, Research organisations and laboratories.
The entry of multinational companies has increased the demand for good engineers. But, the entry level positions after B.E are not very broad. Mainly due to the opening up of the economy and privatisation of infrastructure developments, there is expected to be a good demand for civil engineers.
Abilities & Traits Required
Good logical and mental ability, problem solving skills and an ability to grasp concepts quickly are essential. An ability to express oneself using figures and words, perseverance and judgement are some of the other skills required.
Engineers need to be able to work with a team. Breaking problems down in a systematic way helps to divide the work among team members. You will usually serve as supervisor, ensuring that all team members co-ordinate their parts and communicate effectively to keep the project running smoothly.
The most successful engineers have a balance of creative and scientific skills and can master both established techniques and innovate new ones. Discipline, patience, and perseverance are also important qualities in an engineer-the ability to communicate with others is also a key skill, as engineers need to communicate effectively within their teams and with others.
After your Class 10 you can opt for a diploma course after which, you can go for a degree. Alternatively, after 10+2 one can study engineering by any one of the following options:
Through Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for IIT (Indian institute of Technology) Through JEE of state engineering colleges in India. Your marks scored in 12th exam, particularly in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Maths are also taken into consideration (although it depends from state to state).
BE Civil Engineering or BTech Civil Engineering covers structures, construction and surveying, foundation, fluid mechanics, hydraulics, environmental engineering, irrigation engineering, soil analysis, strength of materials, cost and works management and pollution control.
After graduating, students can go in for postgraduate studies in India or abroad that will culminate in a master's degree. Further study up to PhD level is also an option.
You could also opt for the following specialisations:
Master of Planning in Urban & Regional Planning/Housing/Transport planning Master in Computer Application PG Diploma in Cement Technology/Construction/Quality control. MTech in Earthquake Engineering, Remote Sensing
Diploma holders begin at Rs 25000-35000 a month. Graduates begin at Rs 30000-50000 a month in the beginning. A government job pays in the range of Rs 35000-45000.
For consultancy services, the sky is the limit although depending on the project and your client.
Interview with a Civil Engineer
Kalandi Charan Panda, Civil Engineer
There's no substitute for hard work feels ex IITian, Kalandi Charan Panda. Currently with Hindustan Construction Company as General Manager (Operations), he has over 28 years of experience in this field.
Did you always want to be a Civil Engineer? Actually, I wanted to be a scientist. But fate had other things in store for me. The construction industry was in full boom in the 70s and so Civil Engineering was a hot career option in those days.
Tell us a little bit about your career as a Civil Engineer After completing M.Tech from IIT, Mumbai in 1972, I first worked as a site engineer. This first break is crucial as this is where you can put to test all that you have learnt in the classrooms - your ability to use equipments and resources. Then I worked on various projects ranging from ESSAR Steel Plant- Gujarat, Chamba Fertilisers - Rajasthan, Airport project - Qatar and other projects.
I always wanted to work on hydro projects and Hindustan Construction Company was recruiting people to work on new projects. I have been working with this company for the past few years. Here I'm currently working on Dhauli Ganga Hydro-electric project - UP, Natha Jhakri Power project - HP, Kurichu Dam project - Bhutan and Naraj Barge project - Orissa.
What is your job profile here? My job involves making project reports, supervising the site work, dealing with casualties at the site and constraints if any. The bottom line is successfully completing the project using limited resources. I also arrange meetings with clients, discuss payment, arrange for resources, prepare documentation, etc.
What according to you are the qualities that make a good Civil Engineer? A successful Civil Engineer should have a good concept of design and structure. You should also be ready to work for long hours. You need to be result oriented, have good leadership qualities, good communication skills and commitment towards work. But most of all you should not hesitate to voice your opinion or the work will suffer.
What do you like most about your job? I love working on different projects at the same time. Each assignment is a challenge. It gives me immense pleasure when the organisation makes profits from my project. At the end of the day it feels great to see your creation.
You also get to learn a lot from your experiences and different postings. Above all this job enables you to work with people from different places and culture. And that's something I enjoy doing.
What are the difficulties you face in your job? Every job has its own pros and cons. Civil Engineers have to deal with erratic work hours. So you have less time for yourself and your family. Consequently, your health also suffers due to long work hours.
This job is very stressful. It's not always easy to keep peace between the workers, management and the union. You have to keep track of unscrupulous elements from disturbing the smooth functioning of the project.
What are the misconceptions about this field? A lot of people believe that Civil Engineers are not well paid. That's not true. The salary and perks differs from project to project. But it's definitely not bad. The salaries have really risen after the entry of MNCs in this sector.
The reason this job is not too famous with the younger generation is because they mostly prefer desk jobs and don't fancy being posted at remote places. Of course the comfort levels on the site are low as compared to white collared jobs. Colleges should counsel students to help dispel this notion of working on the site.
What are the job avenues for Civil Engineers? There is no dearth of job opportunities in this field. And with multinational companies investing in India there is an increased demand for Civil Engineers. You could also work on projects in fields like agriculture, astrophysics, aviation, oceanography, railways, etc.
Do you have any tips for aspirants? This is a very challenging field. You got to combine your theoretical knowledge with practical experience to bring out the best in the project. So working on site is very important.
If you want to be successful you should be ready to work in adverse conditions and remote places. I feel one should work hard and gain a fair amount of experience at a young age. Comforts will then follow naturally. There is no substitute to hard work.