What Does A Civil Engineering Consultant Do? (With Skills)
Updated 27 December 2022
The focus of civil engineering remains on the construction activities of buildings, bridges and roads. Professionals in this field require several skills to fulfil their routine responsibilities, like communication skills or analytical skills, to work with architects to design and develop structures. Learning about a civil engineering consultant's key responsibilities and work environment can help you decide if it is a career path you want to pursue. In this article, we discuss a civil engineering consultant does, find out what the duties associated with this profession are and review some skills that are required to become one.
What Does A Civil Engineering Consultant Do?
The answer to the question, 'What does a civil engineering consultant do?', lies in their ability to plan, design and execute different construction activities. They possess knowledge about operations management and its three major aspects that are quality, expenses and time. A consultant in this field usually works on the design aspect of a construction project and spends most of their time in the office with clients. A civil engineering consultant may work on the construction of townships, urbanisation of rural areas or the development of roadways and other structures for transportation services.
Responsibilities Of A Civil Engineering Consultant
Here are some key responsibilities of a civil engineering consultant:
Ensure compliance with safety requirements and create designs that focus on safety
Deliver quality projects on time that are well within the budget of a company
Secure necessary permits, approvals and different regulatory permissions
Conduct structural audits of buildings and prepare inspection reports
Supervise technical and feasibility studies including site investigations
Use computer software tools for creating layouts and designs of structures
Liaise with clients regularly and collaborate with architects and contractors
Identify specifications of the projects to oversee procedures of tenders
Find solutions to design issues and manage project resources
Supervise schedules of material deliveries and oversee the purchase of equipment
The Work Environment Of A Civil Engineering Consultant
A civil engineering consultant is required to visit construction sites frequently to monitor the progress of work. If these professionals have several clients, then they travel extensively to visit different sites around the country. They may often work away from their home for several months. If these professionals have an overseas client, they may even have to travel abroad if required. The working hours are mostly the regular office hours for these professionals. Sometimes, they also work on weekends to meet project deadlines. A civil engineering consultant also has to manage phone calls to liaise with site engineers and managers.
Skills Required To Become A Civil Engineering Consultant
Here are some skills that are required to become a civil engineering consultant:
Mathematics and physics skills
When a civil engineering consultant is pursuing an engineering degree, they take a course that focuses on mathematics and physics. Such a course includes varied mathematical concepts and physics applications that help them build robust structures. To calculate the technical details of a building or a highway, they use mathematical formulas. They use their knowledge of physics to determine the thermal performance of a building or the impact of construction techniques on the environment.
A civil engineering consultant solves varied problems while working on projects, like workers not following compliance regulations or lack of sufficient funds. There are several design issues that they solve in their work routinely. They are also required to redesign a project if there are structural flaws. They use their problem-solving skills and experience to develop efficient and cost-effective solutions at every stage of a project.
It is important for a civil engineering consultant to know how to work on different industry-specific software tools. These computer applications help them create efficient layouts and designs for a project. They use various digital design programs to conceptualise and complete projects. Apart from the software for designing, they also work on construction management software tools that help them manage their projects.
Project management skills
A construction project has different professionals working towards a common goal, like architects, engineers and contractors. The project management skills of a civil engineering consultant help them collaborate with other professionals to complete projects on time. Apart from designing and building structures, they also help several departments to plan a project effectively. These skills allow them to set realistic goals and motivate people to complete work within deadlines.
Analytical thinking skills
Analytical thinking skills of a civil engineering consultant help them identify problems quickly, understand the major causes of the problems, research and gather data on the problems and develop solutions by assessment of the situations. These skills allow a professional in the civil engineering field to stay objective while evaluating the success and failure possibilities of varied solutions. Analytical thinking also helps these professionals to enhance workflow and improve management.
A civil engineering consultant requires excellent verbal communication skills to convey messages clearly to their team members, like architects or building contractors. By employing their communication skills, they are better able to make their plans clear to all the professionals involved in a project. With these skills, they communicate technical terms in easy-to-understand language when coordinating with people who do not possess a technical background.
Attention to detail skills
In civil engineering, planning precisely and creating structures accurately is important. To deliver quality and accurate work, a civil engineering consultant assesses the smallest of details of the designs. Attention to detail skills allow these professionals to conduct thorough research and stay focused on the intricacies of a project to showcase their reliability. Attention to detail includes observation with which these professionals notice, evaluate and recall their surroundings easily.
Creativity skills allow a civil engineering consultant to develop novel ideas and solve problems from different perspectives. These professionals apply their creative abilities to plan building sites and design public and private structures. Sometimes, there are clients who require an inventive design for their building. A civil engineering consultant employs their creativity skills to imagine a layout that not only fits the pre-arranged space but also has an artistic appeal to it, as required by the client.
Time management skills
A civil engineering consultant may work with different clients and several projects simultaneously. Possessing time management skills means these professionals better manage their responsibilities and complete the projects punctually. From planning to completion, excellent time management helps these professionals to manage the timeline of a project effectively. With these skills, a civil engineering professional also helps their colleagues to follow schedules throughout the building process.
A civil engineering consultant keeps various tasks in their design processes highly organised to complete a project on time. They work with blueprints, renders and layout plans. These documents are both physical and digital. Strong organisational skills allow these professionals to store these important documents securely. When these professionals remain organised at work, they are more likely to better maintain records of plans, budgets, tenders and materials.
How To Become A Civil Engineering Consultant
Here are some steps you may follow to become a civil engineering consultant:
1. Complete a bachelor's degree
Clients or construction companies expect civil engineering consultants to have, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or civil engineering technology. These courses help you understand the basics of civil engineering and develop a strong engineering foundation. Graduation in these subjects may also help you secure a specialisation in a specific branch. Various fundamentals of engineering help you learn the technical know-how to develop lasting structures and the importance of water resources and power supply. Calculus, mechanics, physics and geology are some subjects you may learn during your graduation.
2. Pursue a master's degree
An organisation or a client may not ask for a master's degree before hiring you as a civil engineering consultant, but this course is a great way to expand your knowledge on the subject. It allows you to understand some of the most advanced concepts of civil engineering. Pursuing a master's degree helps you learn about fields like physical hydrology, sustainability and geotechnical engineering. This degree equips you with inventive thinking approaches to devise solutions to complex problems. There are several subjects in a master's degree course that allow you to broaden your knowledge about this multi-disciplinary profession.
3. Gain industry experience
A typical job description for the position of civil engineering consultant includes graduation and work experience of over 10 years. Before offering you a role in their organisation, a hiring manager may ask for substantial experience in an engineering leadership role. Pursue internship opportunities, as this helps you get hands-on experience in a construction work setting. Also, look for a junior civil engineer role to gain knowledge about doing repairs, restoration or material quantity estimation. Once you possess considerable industry experience, consider pursuing a professional certification to gain more knowledge.
4. Apply for the job
After possessing educational qualifications and relevant work experience, write a resume that showcases your achievements and skills. Mention certifications, awards and your work history in this document alongside highlighting the quantifiable results you have achieved in the engineering positions you have held in your career. Apart from the resume, consider creating a portfolio to impress clients and hiring managers. After this, you can search for open civil engineering consultant positions and determine the roles for which you are most qualified, depending on your work experience. Apply with your updated resume and a well-crafted cover letter.
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