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Civil engineer

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Summary of occupation

Civil engineers design, construct and maintain the buildings, bridges, dams, roads and other types of infrastructure that make up our cities and towns. Fremantle Harbour, the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme and the Forrest Highway are all examples of significant civil engineering works in Western Australia. Civil engineers visit building sites and assess proposed plans to determine the environmental impact of large scale projects, and whether the building materials will be sufficient to create a safe and stable structure.

ANZSCO description: Plans, designs, organises and oversees the  construction and operation of dams, bridges, pipelines, gas and water supply schemes, sewerage systems, airports and other civil engineering projects. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Infrastructure Engineer
Specialisations: Airfield Engineer Officer (Air Force), Construction Engineer, Hydraulics Engineer, Municipal Engineer, Structural Engineer, Transport Engineer, Water Supply Distribution Engineer
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A civil engineer needs:

  • good planning and organisation skills
  • excellent problem-solving skills
  • good communication skills
  • to be willing to adhere to strict safety regulations
  • to be able to work independently and as part of a team.
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Working conditions

Civil engineers work in offices and on building sites. When they are on buildings sites, they may experience all types of weather conditions. They work on projects throughout Western Australia, from building new skyscrapers in Perth, to designing systems to transport and store water at remote minesites in regional areas. Civil engineers generally work regular office hours, however, they may be required to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. Some civil engineers also work on call, in case of emergencies, such as a burst water or gas pipe.

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Salary details

Graduate civil engineers can expect to earn approximately $1 058 per week ($55 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for. With experience their earning potential may increase substantially.

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Tools and technologies

Civil engineers cross-check building plans against a range of reference materials to ensure that a finished structure will be strong enough and able to withstand dangerous weather conditions. They must also be familiar with surveying equipment, such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), so that they can gather information about a particular site in case special precautions need to be taken during construction. When working on a building site they will also be required to wear appropriate safety equipment including hard hats and high-visibility clothing.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a civil engineer you usually have to complete an engineering degree majoring in civil engineering, civil and construction engineering, or civil and environmental engineering.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Civil engineer Video Civil engineer Occupation

Civil engineers design, construct and maintain the buildings, bridges, dams, road and other infrastructure that make up our cities and towns.

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