One of the oldest engineering disciplines, civil engineering is both an art and a science. It is an art that uses scientific methods to create a beautiful, developed world around us. Some of the ancient Greek architectural wonders like the Acropolis (and closer home, Hampi, the incredible capital city of the Vijayanagara empire, and the world-renowned Taj Mahal) could not have been possible without the crucial role of ancient engineers. Even today, civil engineering is one of the most sought-after programmes in the world.
World over, governments are announcing huge infrastructure projects that involve construction of roads, airports, ports, oil rigs, tunnels, bridges, power plants and so on. It is impossible to start or complete any of these projects without a team of reliable civil engineers. Private sector projects like apartment buildings, office complexes and individual houses also need the expert guidance of a civil engineer.
Opportunities for Indian civil engineers
If you are a civil engineering graduate in India, what’s in it for you? Plenty of opportunities as well as a few challenges.
The Indian government has announced an investment of Rs 25 trillion in infrastructure over the next three years. These include projects in power, bridges, dams, roads and urban infrastructure. These projects, coupled with the Smart City initiative and the massive boom in the Indian real estate and construction industries, will require a large pool of civil engineers with the right skillsets in areas such as project planning, designing and construction, supervision, quality control and maintenance.
Challenges in the profession
Though opportunities abound, one must not forget that there are also challenges along the way, which lead to considerable disenchantment among civil engineers. In fact, many young people who take the path of pure (technical) civil engineering quickly digress into computer science or architecture because they realize that these challenges are high barriers to their career growth.
Civil engineering is certainly not a glamorous industry; it demands that you clock in long working hours, do frequent on-site work (sometimes in gruelling conditions and harsh weather), manage environmental, sustainability and safety issues, and communicate effectively with both workers and mid- to –senior-management. These factors may disillusion anyone who wants to have a rapid, high-flying career. But if you understand how to overcome these challenges and cement your place in the industry, the opportunities for growth are limitless.
The average entry-level salary for a civil engineer in India is Rs 2.9 lakh per annum. This may seem paltry compared to salaries of professionals in other careers. What you, as a civil engineer need to explore, is the right career that will provide you with both success and upward career mobility. Keep in mind that compensation becomes very attractive when you equip yourself with the right master’s degree qualifications and specialised skills that give you an edge over others.
Equip yourself with the right skills
The way to be ready to meet the market demand for skilled professionals is to equip yourself with better qualification, higher education and enhanced skills. You must be able to demonstrate industry-integration through the use of tools and technology, as well as having management skills—which will make you an invaluable resource in today’s changing times. The need today is for techno-managers who are technically skilled, but can also lead teams and ultimately become a part of top management teams at organizations.
Today, there are both technical and non-technical programmes that help civil engineers upgrade themselves in the competitive job market. Technical programmes can include an M.Tech in structural engineering, water engineering or environmental engineering.
Going forward, the industry is going to put its money on engineers who have managerial skills and whose knowledge that is valuable at multiple stages of the project life-cycle. Some roles that combine these skills are those of construction project managers, quantity surveyors and facilities managers. Quantity surveyors manage the money involved in projects and ensure that a project is profitable. Construction project managers manage the entire project life-cycle and ensure seamless completion, while facilities managers are in charge of buildings once they are completed.
If you are a civil engineer with the above-mentioned advanced skills required for higher-level jobs, this is perhaps the best time to be in the industry. This means you get to work on mega projects of national and international importance, combining your creativity with technical knowledge, experience different work environments and have a rewarding, high-flying career!