Civil Engineer


OFO No: 214201


Other names for Civil Engineer:

  • Biosystems Engineer
  • Construction Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • GIS and Landuse Management Engineer
  • Hydraulics Engineer
  • Site Design Engineer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Transport Engineer
  • Transportation and Urban Planning Engineer
  • Water and Wastewater Engineer



Youtube clip – Meet 3 American Civil Engineers and see some of their amazing projects

For training options in South Africa – scroll down


What is a Civil Engineer?

Civil Engineering is a term used to describe a large variety of activities which encompass the manufacturing and construction of things which include: the designing, planning, maintenance/servicing and management of usually very large projects/developments etc.

Civil Engineers are extremely skilled and can be found working on buildings, harbours, bridges, water supplies, roads, airports,  sewerage systems, tunnels, dams, large scale housing developments, land reclamation etc etc.

Depending on the type of work, Civil Engineers may work from quiet modern offices to remote areas in rugged terrain. The latter option may require lots of traveling from one site to another.

Here is a list of different areas Civil Engineers can work or specialise in:

  • Structural: bridges, roads, towers, tunnels
  • Transportation: roads, traffic control, airports
  • Water: dams, pipelines, purification, sewerage systems
  • Geotechnical: foundations, excavations, fills, mining and land reclamation
  • Construction: large scale construction
  • Urban: municipal services, housing & town development, maintenance
  • Railway and Harbour: railway networks, harbour facilities
  • Environmental: impact studies, social and natural environments
  • Informatics: data capturing, computers for enhancing civil engineering activities

Young Civil Engineers usually work under the supervision of an experienced engineer and will be gradually given more responsibilities as they gain experience.

What does a Civil Engineer do?

  • meets with clients, government officials, architects, urban planners, environmentalists etc
  • works with a team – planning and designing the project
  • manages the project and the workforce
  • travels between sites
  • makes sure everything is going according to plan
  • handles unforeseen problems and making quick decisions
  • services, manages and repairs sites/roads/dams etc
  • captures data on the computer
  • keeps officials up to date with progress
  • reads impact studies, plans, and other documentation
  • keeps up to date of local and national building regulations
  • is constantly aware of safety issues

Are you . . . ?

  • interested in large-scale construction?
  • interested in engineering?
  • able to see and imagine things in 3d?
  • good at mathematics and science?
  • accurate?
  • able to deal with stress?
  • methodical and organised?
  • able to make good decisions?
  • creative and determined?
  • able to work well with others?
  • able to communicate clearly?
  • healthy?
  • a bit thinker?
  • able to manage staff?
  • prepared to work strange and long hours sometimes?

How do I become an Civil Engineer?


  • Complete a National Diploma or BTech in Civil Engineering at a University of Technology and then enter the job market.


  • Complete a minimum 4 year Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering at a recognised SA university. Depending on the university, you can either do a Bachelor of Engineering BEng (Civ) or (BIng Civ) or Bachelor of Science (BSc Eng).
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Johannesburg
  • University of KZN
  • Universit of Pretoria
  • University of Stellenbosch
  • University of Witwatersrand


  • After completing your Civil Engineering DEGREE and 3 years work experience, register with the ECSA to become a Professional Engineer. This registration is extremely important if you want to perform critically important civil engineering work that has direct impact on public safety etc.

Compulsory Subjects: 

  • Mathematics, Physical Science

Recommended Subjects: 

  • Information Technology, Geography, Engineering and Technology



  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
  • Make sure you understand their entry requirements for each course.
  • To avoid scams, make sure your institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education. CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions.



OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER: Land Surveyor or Agricultural Engineer

Is becoming a Civil Engineer the right choice for me?