Civil Engineer

Civil engineers are responsible for the planning, designing, maintenance and management of projects to do with the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems. Civil engineering may be the oldest of the all the engineering disciplines and today, civil engineering encompasses a range of specialized fields which include structural design, marine, environmental, construction, hydraulic engineering, transportation, and geotechnical engineering.

They study, explore, implement and maintain the modern environment of road access, reservoirs of accessible and hygienic water, as well as other facilities. Many technological conveniences, so taken for granted in modern society, are maintained, implemented and designed by those trained in civil engineering.

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions, from supervisor of a construction site to a city engineer. They may supervise the work of surveyors, draughtsmen, technicians and other workers and may also carry out research, lecture or serve as consultants for engineering, construction or architectural firms. Others may work in design, construction, research and teaching. The work environment, therefore, ranges from quiet modern offices to remote areas in rugged terrain. They may have to travel or move from place to place to work on different projects. The actual work setting depends on the speciality chosen and on the size, location and financial resources of the employer.

Engineering graduates usually begin work under the supervision of experienced engineers and are gradually given more responsibilities as they gain experience. Some engineers with experience and additional education move into administration or management. Many high-level executives in industry began their careers in engineering.

Civil Engineering Technicians and Technologists

For civil engineering technicians and technologists, see Engineering Technicians and Technologists.

Personal Requirements

  • aptitude for Science and Mathematics
  • able to visualise objects three-dimensionally
  • creative and have initiative
  • accurate and persistent
  • able to make decisions
  • able to work well with others
  • able to express ideas clearly
  • good health and stamina
  • have managerial qualities
  • able to manage and organise projects

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
  • Each institution has its own entry requirements.
Note: The Engineering Faculties of some universities offer a support programme to help students to become self-sufficient and capable of completing the very demanding engineering course. The programme is aimed at students from communities which lack proper education facilities.

What to Study

Degree: Civil Engineering is offered at many universities, e.g. UCT, UP, UNISA, US, UKZN, Wits. The engineering degree requires a minimum of 4 years of study at a recognised university.

BTech degrees and Diploma Courses in Civil Engineering are also offered at CPUT, CUT, TUT, DUT and SW Gauteng FET.

A person who has obtained a recognised BSc (Eng) or BEng degree is then eligible for registration as an Candidate Engineer. After gaining at least 3 years of appropriate practical experience, a civil engineer may register as a Professional Engineer under the auspices of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).


  • government departments, provincial administrations and municipalities
  • construction companies
  • engineering or architectural firms
  • Mittal Steel, Sasol, Eskom and CSIR
  • universities of technology and universities
  • self-employment, with the necessary experience and initiative, as a consultant

Further Information

South African Institution of Civil Engineering
Private Bag X200
Halfway House, 1685
Tel: (011) 805-5947/8/5953 Fax: (011) 805-5971

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)
Private Bag X 691
Bruma, 2026
Tel: (011) 607-9500 Fax: (011) 622-9295

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to a civil engineer and ask permission to observe this work
  • try to obtain part-time or vacation work with a construction or manufacturing firm

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations