What Does a Civil Engineer Do?

Although they are typically associated with monumental structures and buildings, a civil engineer’s primary focus is adapting and maintaining the infrastructure. The job of a civil engineer is to make sure that the infrastructure, including roads, railways, bridges and energy supply networks, operate effectively. The infrastructure also requires adaptation with regard to natural disasters and climate change in addition to the needs and size of the population.

Based on his specialization, a civil engineer can focus on solving problems of construction, transport, geotechnics or structure. Within each specialization, a civil engineer finds himself filling the role of a consultant or a contractor. Consultants typically focus on the design part of the work in addition to communicating with the clients, whereas contractors oversee the construction process. The former role involves in-office work, while the latter requires on-site presence.

The job of a civil engineer in construction is to ensure that the construction project follows the schedule and that it’s being built in accordance to specifications and plans. A civil engineer in the geotechnical field has to make sure that the foundation is solid. His focus lies on the interaction between buildings and the soil upon which they are built.

Structural engineers focus on the design and the assessment of construction projects, making sure that they feature strength and durability. Transportation engineers handle the planning, design and maintenance of infrastructure that is in use every day, such as streets, highways, transit systems and airports.