Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is the management of essential services and infrastructure as well as the planning and designing of prospective ventures. Civil engineers manage and monitor the roads we use for travel, the water we drink, and the energy we use. A civil engineer can work on a huge range of projects – sport stadiums, sewerage systems, hydroelectric power stations and high seas oil rigs.

There are a large number of different branches of civil engineering. These include structural engineering, transportation engineering and hydraulic engineering as well as environmental engineering and geotechnical engineering.

If you are someone who has an aptitude for maths, as well as the desire for a career that combines varied, indoor and outdoor work, civil engineering is worth considering.


Civil Engineering students will often have a number of options including degrees and higher certificates at levels six, seven, and eight. A good grade for Leaving Cert Maths is necessary for some courses.

The subjects you will usually take on a Civil Engineering course include:

  • Mathematics
  • Engineering Mechanics
  • Building Technology
  • Computer Applications,
  • Materials Testing
  • Structural Design

There is often the option of specialisation in subjects such as:

  • Water Quality Management
  • Soil Mechanics
  • Highway & Transportation
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Hydraulics

Practical work, involving extensive use of Computer-Aided Design (CAD), generally forms a major part of the course and some students also undertake a period of work experience.

The Work

Civil engineers are often involved in every element of the construction process. This is everything from the planning stage to the finished project.

General civil engineers will work closely with builders, surveyors and specialised civil engineers. They oversee all elements of a project, dealing with the site, people and materials involved.

Structural engineers always ensure that buildings are structurally sound. In particular, they are responsible for the safe construction of tall buildings. They work closely with architects and builders. They are also regularly on-site during the construction process.

Geotechnical engineers are those who deal with foundations and earth materials. They study rock or soil types to make sure the building or bridge, for example, is safe. They also have to prepare for possible disasters such as earthquakes or floods.

Transportation engineers are involved in the creation of roads, railways and pedestrian areas, and are also involved with transport infrastructure and traffic management. Their tasks include using computer models and statistical data to determine how many roads are needed and how long/wide they should be. In addition, they decide what materials to use and where exactly to place roundabouts.

Environmental engineers are those who identify as well as design solutions for environmental problems. This can mean designing plants and processes for water purification, sewage treatment and hazardous waste management.

An high aptitude for maths and physics is useful in studying civil engineering. You will also need an interest in how things work and how they are built. Furthermore, you should like the challenge of finding solutions to technical problems and enjoy seeing projects through from start to finish.

Did you know?

The base of the Great Pyramid in Egypt is large enough to cover ten football fields. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, it took 400,000 men twenty years to construct this great monument.

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