Ways To Build A Rewarding Career in Civil Engineering

Ways To Build A Rewarding Career in Civil Engineering
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 10 March, 2022
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As Singapore continues to improve its built environment (BE), there is a strong demand for construction and overall transformation in the sector. Construction contracts for BE are expected to grow between SGD 23-28 billion in 2021, according to National Development Minister Desmond Lee.

Roles that deal with BE, like civil engineering, can be financially promising. If you’re an aspiring civil engineer, expect a wide array of career options awaiting you in the future. It is best to specialise in a particular field to further hone your expertise.

Below are some civil engineering fields of specialisation worth looking into, as well as how the government can help fund your education.

Civil engineering in Singapore

Civil engineering deals with the built environment, which comprises of both visible structures, like buildings, and invisible infrastructure like pipes and cabling. Industries in the BE sector include construction, real estate, environment service and security, among others.

Thus, a civil engineer does more than just design buildings. They can be involved in a wide variety of projects, depending on their skillset. According to SkillsFuture’s Framework, civil engineers need to be meticulous and highly detail-oriented to oversee every aspect of the project they are working on. A civil engineer should also have excellent problem-solving skills and strong interpersonal skills to thrive in the workplace.

Being a civil engineer can also be very lucrative. According to Jobstreet’s 2020 Salary Report, the engineering sector is among the top industries with a high monthly salary in 2019. A managerial role in engineering was also ranked among the top growth specialisations, with their monthly salary spiking by 5% from 2018-2019.

Because BE is such a vast sector, it would be in a civil engineer’s best interest to specialise in a particular field of study. Taking up a field of specialisation in civil engineering offers a higher level of expertise, which may open up more roles and better career opportunities ahead.

Here are some specialisations in civil engineering that you can look into:

Fields of specialisation in civil engineering

  • Transportation Engineering – This specialisation deals with infrastructure that could help in safe, efficient and quality movement from one place to another. While Singapore has an impressive transportation system, it requires constant maintenance and improvement to stay in good health. Transport engineers can even help innovate the transport system to make it better and safer, especially with public transport ridership dropping by 39% in 2020 due to the pandemic.
  • Structural Engineering – This specialisation deals with how structures can stay stable amidst outside forces and stress. Lateral forces, like earthquakes and wind, can also be related to this specialisation. A skyscraper-rich city like Singapore would always have opportunities for structural engineers.
  • Construction Engineering – This specialisation involves the cost and quality assessment of a project. A construction engineer is responsible for checking the availability of materials, equipment and labour, while also identifying potential hazards. In Singapore, a Senior Civil Engineer in construction can earn around SGD 4,236 to SGD 6,635 monthly.
  • Geotechnical Engineering – This specialisation is concerned with the properties of soil and rocks where the foundation of a structure will be built. Soil engineers study soil types, bearing capacity, penetration tests, moisture content and shear capacities to help develop a structure. The Geotechnical Society of Singapore was established in 2008 to help advance and promote geotechnical engineering in the country. It has since become a rich resource for information and knowledge for the greater engineering community and the general public.
  • Material Engineering – This specialisation involves the study of material properties used for construction purposes. While materials like steel, wood and concrete are traditionally used for construction, a growing push for sustainability has engineers and scientists looking at other sources. In August, scientists in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a pollen-based ink material that could be used for 3D printing, which was deemed more sustainable and affordable.
  • Water Resources Engineering – This specialisation deals with the study of fluid mechanics, hydraulics and water resource management. According to Singapore’s National Water Agency, water demand in the country is currently at about 430 million gallons a day and can double by 2060. The agency needs to plan and implement an optimal water infrastructure to secure adequate supply for years to come.
  • Environmental Engineering – This specialisation deals with the environmental feasibility of a project. It is also concerned with the treatment of water, solid waste, chemical and industrial effluent that may pollute the environment. Expect more opportunities to rise for environmental engineers as Singapore pursues its Green Building Masterplan, which aims to turn 80% of its buildings green by 2030.

Resources to help you succeed

As Singapore evolves to achieve a more sustainable built environment, the country needs more engineers to support its goals. Tan Seng Chuan of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore wrote in March that the country needs engineers now more than ever, especially to help support the Green Plan 2030. Their knowledge and expertise can contribute to all five pillars of the plan: city in nature, energy reset, sustainable living, green economy and resilient future.

SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore, and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), together with industry associations, training providers, organisations and unions, developed a Skills Framework for Built Environment to promote skills mastery and lifelong learning. The framework contains useful information for individuals, employers and training providers that are interested in career development and skills upgrading.

To support the education and upskilling of its people, the government offers several forms of financial aid for both aspiring civil engineers and engineering professionals.

The BCA offers this scholarship for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents with excellent academic results and Co-Curricular Activities (CCA) Records. The scholarship covers tuition fees, maintenance allowance and sponsorship for approved student/summer exchange programmes. Scholars can apply to approved courses and study in the following schools: NTU, National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore Institute of Technology, Singapore University of Technology and Design or Singapore Management University.

Available to all Singaporeans aged 25 and above, SkillsFuture credit can be used for a wide range of approved courses available for BE professionals. Recipients will have an opening credit of SGD 500 and the government will provide periodic top-ups.

This study award aims to encourage BE professionals to develop and deepen specialist skills that are in demand in the sector. Recipients of the award will receive SGD 5,000 to defray out-of-pocket course expenses. Among the courses approved for this study award are the Stanford-BCA Advanced Management Programme in Virtual Design and Construction at the BCA Academy and the Master of Science in Civil Engineering in either NTU or NUS.

BCA-Industry iBuildSG Scholarship/Sponsorship programmes offer a variety of financial incentives for undergraduates and existing employees. These are offered in collaboration with industry firms who wish to enable high calibre talent, retain high performing employees and enhance employees’ skills and competencies.

Check out our Career Resources page for more tips on how to improve your resume and take your career to the next level. It also offers expert insights and advice that could help give a boost to your career journey.

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