Career Building Blocks
The built environment is one of the largest industries in the UK today, boasting a huge variety of careers. Real World finds out how graduates can construct their own future in this booming sector
Do you want to change the world? A career in construction will quite literally allow you to do just that. The construction industry alters the landscape of our built environment. A job in the sector will see you developing and building new structures in order to provide solutions to environmental, human and logistical problems. The UK construction output is the second largest in Europe and encompasses a multitude of different roles. Chartered surveying, estate agency, civil engineering, architecture, urban planning and environmental consultancy are just a sprinkling of the ones available. Innovative and ingenious ideas are causing the industry to evolve all the time, which means the employment possibilities for graduates are abundant.
Comprehending the importance of construction requires little detective work. Mammoth projects being undertaken all around us such as the London Olympics 2012 and airport expansions highlight the dominance of the sector within the professional sphere. Construction is booming. If you’re interested in building our future and sustaining the planet at the same time, this is where you need to be.
One of the integral areas within the sector is civil engineering. Whether the project is housing, bridges, highways, railways, ports or a power plant, civil engineers are required for their scientific knowledge and broad skills base. The ICE (Institute of Civil Engineering) describes the discipline as ‘a great art, on which the wealth and well-being of the whole of society depends.’ If you’d like a job with a social conscience, an awareness of the public and their needs and a continually diversifying set of opportunities, you’re reading the right article.
Civil engineering is an umbrella term, alluding to a wide variety of related specialties. Encompassing geotechnical, environmental, water, traffic, structural, building services and planning engineering, the discipline is a pastiche of opportunity waiting to be exploited. As such, the sector allows a great deal of scope for development and opportunity, with a variety of different career paths available.
Civil engineers are split into two separate areas. Consulting engineers are the designers and contracting engineers turn their designs into reality. All civil engineers, however, must have an excellent understanding of both design and construction. Consulting engineers often start on minor tasks, building their repertoire of skills and experience before embarking on larger projects. Contracting engineers supervise the work on the ground and liaise with consulting engineers. They work to time and budget restraints and deliver every aspect of the specification.
This is not a simple job. Civil engineers co-ordinate architects, bricklayers, sub-contractors and their clients with skill and efficiency, often on complicated projects that demand a high level of expertise. A civil engineer must be resourceful and determined to iron out any issues that arise during construction.
Perhaps most pertinently, it is civil engineers to whom we are turning for solutions on issues such as global warming, carbon emissions and flooding. It is their aptitude and adroitness we must thank for things like flood defences and carbon reduction solutions. With climate change so high on the current political agenda, it is in engineering that the heroes of tomorrow are inevitably to be found.
A career in civil engineering and construction also grants creative freedom and breeds job satisfaction because almost every project is seen through to completion. The sector also provides fantastic opportunities to travel because of the boom in the construction and environmental industries worldwide. With salaries between £19k-£100kpa, saving the world doesn’t just have to mean contending with the consequences of cutting down on toilet paper.
Ultimately the construction industry as a whole is a remarkably attractive one for dynamic and diverse graduates. It boasts countless opportunities for career progression, offers excellent on-the-job training and demands commitment.
Construction Industry Training Board
Careers in Construction
Engineering Construction Industry Training Board
Institute of Civil Engineering
Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors