Do you enjoy solving problems and have a natural ability with maths and physical science? Have you thought about becoming an engineer? Are you confused about all the different types of engineers? You know you have good technical skills but you really aren’t clear about which area you should focus on? There are a number of different engineering careers you can pursue based on your interests. Some of these areas are electrical, structural, mechanical and civil engineering.

Civil engineering, together with many other areas of engineering, is on the critical skills list for jobs in South Africa. If you chose to become a civil engineer, you certainly won’t be without job opportunities. You’ll also have the benefit of working with a team and being involved in something that helps South Africa’s economy grow.

What is a Civil Engineer?

As a Civil Engineer, you would oversee the construction of roads, bridges, tunnels, railways, dams, power plants and other major structures. You would also be involved in the maintenance and repair of these facilities when required. South Africa is geographically a large country and our economy relies on good infrastructure in order to move goods and people around. Unfortunately, this infrastructure isn’t working properly at the moment, so the job of a civil engineer becomes even more important.

Once you have qualified, you can choose to work as a consulting civil engineer. In this case, you work alongside an architect in designing projects. Otherwise, you could become a contracting civil engineer in which you are involved in the actual building of projects. Your decision is based on job availability and your areas of interest. If you enjoy being out in the field and traveling, then being involved in the actual construction of projects may be your best choice.

Although many civil engineers work in this field, this qualification can also be a springboard into administration and management in many different sectors.

What do you need to study in order to become a civil engineer?

There are two different options to choose from when deciding to study as a civil engineer. You can study either for a degree or a diploma at different institutions. Both of these require a Grade 12 NSC or equivalent, with Maths and Physical Science as compulsory subjects. Having Information Technology, Geography, and Engineering and Technology is also helpful.

Most universities require a mark of 60 to 70% in Grade 12 for Maths and Physical Science and over 50% for English. It’s good to know that some universities offer a support programme to help students who struggle with the course work as it can be demanding. Should you choose to study for a diploma in civil engineering, it’s best to look directly at the course requirements at each institution that offers this course as they differ. Some institutions offer bridging courses to students who have the potential to become civil engineers.

Where can you study to become a Civil Engineer?

University of Pretoria
University of the Witwatersrand
University of Cape Town
University of Stellenbosch
University of KwaZulu Natal
Cape University of Technology
Mangosuthu University of Technology
Tshwane University of Technology
Durban University of Technology
False Bay TVET College
Northlink College

There are a number of other TVET colleges that also offer civil engineering courses across the country.

Because civil engineering is such a critical skill in South Africa, you will find that there are a number of bursary funding opportunities available to students over and above the usual NSFAS funding.

Becoming a civil engineering will give you a lots of scope for working for different employers. You could work for government, large construction companies, engineering or architectural firms or for your local municipality. Once you have enough experience, you may decide to start your own business and work for yourself or as a consultant.

Wherever you decide to work, you will definitely have a rewarding career in this field. Not only will you contribute to the growth of the South African economy and earn a good income while you do it, but you’ll also be able to be creative, use your own initiative and work with others. And there is no shortage of jobs out there!


Tell us: Are you interested in becoming a civil engineer or know someone who is?