Considered as one of the oldest engineering disciplines, Civil Engineering involves planning, designing and executing structural works. The profession deals with a wide variety of engineering tasks including designing, supervision and construction activities of public works like roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, airports, dams, water works, sewage systems, ports etc. and offers a multitude of challenging career opportunities.
A civil engineer is responsible for planning and designing a project, constructing the project to the required scale, and maintenance of the product. A civil engineer requires not only a high standard of engineering knowledge but also supervisory and administrative skills. The planning part of their work involves site investigation, feasibility studies, creating solutions to complications that may occur and the actual designing of structures. They have to work with the guidelines of the local government authority and get plans approved by the relevant authority. They may prepare cost estimates and set construction schedules. Construction work involves dealing with clients, architects, government officials, contactors and the supervision of work according to standards. Their work also involves the maintenance and repair of the project.
The major specialisations within civil engineering are structural, water resources, environmental, construction, transportation, geo-technical engineering etc. On most projects, civil engineers work in teams or in coordination with many other engineers. They can find work as a supervisor of a construction site or a managerial position or in design, research as well as teaching in government services or private concerns. They can also work as independent consultants.
A bachelor's degree in Engineering is the minimum requirement to become a qualified civil engineer. A post graduate degree is required for research or teaching posts and an additional degree in business administration is desirable for management positions.
Engineering courses are available at two levels. There are the degree and postgraduate degree courses offered by the engineering colleges and Institutes of Technology (IITs), and, the diploma courses available at polytechnics. There is also the Associate Membership Examination of the Institute of Engineers (AMIE), which enables working people in the private and public sector, or diploma holders to acquire a Bachelor's engineering degree through distance education. IIT Chennai and Institute Of Post Graduate Studies And Research, Hyderabad gives MS courses in civil Engineering, through distance education, the basic qualification of which is BE/ B tech in engineering.
The basic eligibility criteria for a BE / B.Tech in Civil Engineering is 10+2 or equivalent examination, with high percentage of marks in Science subjects (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics).
Selection: Selection to the graduate courses ( BE / B.Tech ) is based on merit i.e the marks secured in the final exams of 10+2 and through entrance exams. Entrance to the IIT's is through 'JEE' (Joint Entrance Exam) and for other institutions through their own separate entrance exams and other state level and national level exams. Apart from the IIT's, some other famous institutes also recognize JEE scores for selection. Selection to the postgraduate courses ( M.Sc / M.Tech) in different universities is through an 'All India Combined Entrance exam' conducted by JNU, New Delhi and to IIT's through 'GATE' in Two year/ 4 semester M.Tech courses and through JEE in five year integrated M.Tech courses.
Duration: BE/B.Tech courses are of 4 year's duration. The diploma courses are of 2-3 year's duration
Fees: In private colleges fees range from approx Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh annually for a bachelors degree. In IIT's it varies between Rs. 15,000/- to Rs. 20,000/- per year.
Personal Skills: A civil engineer needs to have a sharp, analytical and practical mind and give attention to details. Excellent communication skills is a necessity and he should have the ability to get along at all levels, as part of a team. He should be good at organizing and solving problems. He may need to work under pressure and have the ability to keep calm during crisis.
He needs to know about surveying methods, environmental issues like whether the area is susceptible to tremors or has sandy soil etc, properties of building materials like its load bearing strength, resistance to fire and corrosion etc. Besides having a good technical designing knowledge conceptualising structures, they should be computer literate in order to use design, drawing and word processing software. Civil engineers need to know building and safety regulations, local authority and government regulations, acceptable standards for construction and how to draw plans.
Civil Engineers can find job in Government departments, private and public sector industries, research and teaching institutions etc. Job opportunities for civil engineers are expected to increase as fast as the average for all jobs, although the construction industry is vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy. Civil engineers will always be needed to maintain and repair existing facilities and structures and to construct new ones. After doing B.Tech, one can look for jobs in road projects, building work, consultancy firms, quality testing laboratories or housing societies. The experts say there is a high demand for experienced civil engineers in developed countries.
Civil engineers are employed in all the major construction projects carried out by the state or central government, the railways, private construction companies, military, engineering services, consultancy services etc. Civil engineering graduates can also go in for research and take up teaching or they can open their own independent consultancy services.
The earnings depend on the industries employing civil engineers such as Central or State government departments or private concerns. In India, a bachelor's degree candidate in civil engineering can receive a starting salary of Rs.4000 up to Rs 7500 approximately with 2-3 years experience. With more experience or as an established independent consultant one could earn more. Most employers prefer candidates with Computer (Autocad) knowledge.
Companies abroad in Singapore, UAE etc pay Rs 15000-20,000 approximately for candidates with 2-3 years experience. In USA, according to a 2001 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a bachelor's degree candidate as an initial salary offers averaging $40,616 a year, master's degree candidates received an average offer of $44,080, and Ph.D. candidates were offered $62,280.