Making the transition from student to civil engineering graduate can be a stressful process.

Updated February

Getting the best job possible and kicking off your professional careers requires that you be informed.

The Civil Engineering Career Guide provides industry specific information regarding performance, demand, employment, job vacancies and remuneration, helping you get up to speed with all that’s happening in the profession.

The Civil Engineering Career Guide will help you rapidly build your understanding of the profession, and better understand your prospects going forward.

Career prospects for graduate engineers are intrinsically linked to the performance of major engineering industries. Industries undergoing major growth tend to invest to expand their operations, and in doing so the number of employees often increases.

By analysing the performance of major engineer-employing industries, graduates can gain insights as to where future jobs may be, where opportunities may lie, and what subjects or disciplines they may wish to specialise in.

Engineering Construction

Engineering construction activity directly drives the employment of thousands of engineers across Australia. Engineers are required through all phases of construction, from planning and scoping, through the build, review and subsequent upkeep and maintenance.

The level of engineering construction activity can also provide useful insights into the trajectory of major engineer-employing industries. Those industries undertaking major new construction are likely to expand the engineering workforce over the years ahead.

The value of done provides a useful snapshot of the current level of engineering work, while the value of work yet to be done and the value of work commenced allow users to better understand the amount of engineering work in the pipeline over the near to medium term.

Major new investment in infrastructure across Australia will provide new opportunities for civil engineers over the coming years. New road and rail projects in particular will drive employment growth, as will ongoing maintenance post completion. The large volume of work yet to be done across these industries indicates that growth will continue over the medium term.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing in Australia is increasingly reliant on engineering skill. Manufacturers can no longer compete on price alone, but must instead differentiate their products on the basis of quality and precision. Engineers play a key role in this process, driving innovation and product development.

Manufacturers that best take advantage of these areas of competitive advantage are most likely to grow in the current climate, and will provide opportunities for engineers going forward.

Manufacturing employs fewer civil engineers relative to other disciplines. However, the broad skillset of civil engineers and their wide employment in consulting ensures that they still play a prominent role. Manufacturing has remained relatively steady over the past few years, however those areas with higher quality products – which tend to employ more engineers – have fared well.

It is important that the graduates understand where engineers are employed throughout the economy. This can help graduates tailor their education to meet the needs of their future career, and may also help guide their efforts to find employment or internships. A thorough understanding of potential industries can provide a major edge for graduates during the application process, as candidates can better identify and explain how their skills will benefit their employer.

Civil engineers are employed widely in the professional, scientific and technical services industry, which is comprised largely on consulting firms. Construction is also a major employer of civil engineers, as is public administration and safety, and transport, postal and warehousing.
From a geographical perspective, the eastern seaboard states dominate the market for civil engineers, with New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland occupying the top three positions. However, the wide skillset and broad need for civil engineering skills ensures that employment remains relatively strong Australia wide.

While employment data can help graduates identify where engineers are employed, job vacancy statistics can provide key insights into which areas are currently hiring, and which industries and states are expanding their engineering workforce.

In some cases, opportunities for graduates may be improved throughout relocation, or by targeting growth industries. A detailed understanding of the job market can enable graduates to target their efforts towards industries and geographic regions in which they are most likely to be successful.

According to data from the Department of Employment, civil engineering roles accounted for 58.0% of advertised engineering positions over the past year. Within the Australian market, civil engineering skills have the broadest range of applications, and comprise the majority of roles in high-employing areas such as consulting and construction. While the level of engineering and construction activity tends to fluctuate over the years, the volume tends to necessitate a large number of engineers, providing opportunities for civil engineers.

The number of advertised civil engineering roles has increased over the past 12 months, providing a raft of new opportunities for civil engineers. This growth indicates that employment prospects for civil engineering graduates are improving, and students are likely to find suitable employment upon graduation.

Remuneration is the key form of reward received by engineers in exchange for their expertise and effort. However, remuneration can differ significantly by industry, region, experience and responsibility. With this in mind, it is important that engineers know what they are worth, as this provides a firm bargaining position when negotiating a new contract or a pay rise.

The effect of accepting lower wages or below market remuneration is magnified over the span of a career, making the ability to effectively negotiate wages all the more important. A strong base of knowledge and a detailed understanding of market rates form the first step in negotiating a higher wage, and building a rewarding career in engineering.

Graduates

According to graduate careers Australia, civil engineering graduates earn an average of $63,000 per year upon graduation, with the 85.4% of those seeking full-time employment successfully finding work in the field within three months.

This compares quite favourably against the wider cohort of university graduates, where the average annual salary is $55,000, and the rate of full time employment 71.3%

By responsibity

As an engineer’s level of responsibility changes, so too does their remuneration. It is important that engineers understand how their remuneration should progress throughout their career. By understanding the market rates in any given discipline, engineers will be better positioned to ensure they receive fair remuneration for their role.