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Profile of a Civil Engineer

CIVIL ENGINEER

Plans, designs, constructs, operates and maintains water and recycled water supply systems. Salary: $50,000 for a graduate up to in excess of $130,000 for experienced engineers.

PERSONAL DETAILS

Chris Moore
AGE: 32

Although he’s a city boy, Chris Moore was bought up listening to his family’s stories of drought and life on the land. It spurred an interest in geography, water and drought, and by year 11 he was a regular viewer of Landline. 

Civil engineering was a great way to combine Chris’s interests. Straight out of school he headed into a five-year civil engineering degree at the University of Western Sydney, followed by a plum graduate job with Sydney Water.

As a graduate employee, Chris was able to get his feet wet in all the different aspects of civil engineering work, from project management to design and operations. It gave him a hands-on understanding of how a water supply system works, and helped catapult him into a strategy and planning role.

Working at a high-level, Chris assesses the water system and decides where the stress points might be, then rolls out plans for capital works to fix problems and develop policy. He’s also involved in designing multi-million dollar recycling systems.

Aside from problem solving, Chris enjoys working on something with such a huge social and community benefit, creating strategies to meet water needs for the next 30 years.

“Planning and design are actually quite critical, because without water we wouldn’t have a city and we wouldn’t have an economy,” he says.

TRAINING:

Chris has degree in civil engineering from the University of Western Sydney.

JOB PROSPECTS:

With so much infrastructure works going on, civil engineers are in demand.

JOB DESCRIPTION

GREAT BITS:

“I like that it’s a mixture of desktop office work but also going out in the field.

The things that I have individually planned are now coming to fruition in the field and you can go out on site and say, I planned and designed that reservoir or pipeline or infrastructure. It’s quite a buzz.

I like the technical side of it and I feel that the [relationships I have with] my work colleagues is always positive.

My interests are in geography, water and drought and that’s exactly what I’m doing in my job. The team that I work with, we’re leading the way.”

SUCKY PART:

“Sometimes many months or even years of work can be put into a project, and the project gets cancelled or stopped to due reasons out of our control.

Your beeper going off while you are sleeping because there may be a burst water main and advice is required on contingency planning.”

WHAT IT INVOLVES:

Chris’s day can include everything from big picture planning and system design, like creating new systems for recycled water for greater Sydney, through to going out in the field to test water flow.

If a water pipe cracks, Chris can be called in to help operations fix the problem and create strategies so that it doesn’t happen again. He also runs workshops to identify risk areas and brainstorm about the most cost effective and efficient way to manage potential issues and work that needs to be done.

Day-to-day can find him developing computer models of water systems at his desk, or out testing the water pressure in a street booster.

WANT THE JOB?

SUGGESTIONS:

You need a degree in civil engineering, and then find a graduate position that will give you hands-on experience. 

Join associations and networks to help job search and prove you’re interested.

Civil engineers work on more infrastructure than just water systems, so you will also need to narrow down the areas you want to focus on.

It helps to be good at mathematics and physics, enjoy lateral thinking and data analysis. 

You also need to be able to implement your solutions, so good communication skills are important.

Many civil engineering jobs are a mix of office and field work, so you will need to enjoy getting out and getting your hands dirty. 

To work in the water area you will need to have a good grasp of hydraulics.

WHO CAN HELP:

Engineers Australia and the Australian Water Association can give you advice on the different career paths for civil engineers.

WHERE TO STUDY:

Any university that offers degrees in civil engineering. 

Check the latest university guide for more information on courses near you.

IN THE MEANTIME:

Keep up to date with the issues in your area of interest, and talk to the university of your choice about job placements, work experience and graduate opportunities. 

Learn more about what engineers do. Chris recommends watching the BBC series the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

 

Reinvent Your career would like to thank abc.net.au where this article first appeared.

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