Civil Engineer Mataaro Metarahi

Civil engineers plan, organise and oversee the building and maintenance of structures such as dams, bridges, sewerage systems and roads.

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Professional engineers who have five to eight years of experience can apply to Engineering New Zealand to become a chartered professional engineer (CPEng).

Civil engineers may do some or all of the following:

  • consult with clients, government officials, contractors and other professionals on the requirements of each project
  • decide if proposed construction and development sites are suitable
  • plan and design structures such as roads, drainage systems, buildings, dams or wharves
  • work out whether structures will be able to withstand the loads that will be placed on them by people, weather and other natural forces
  • prepare reports, working drawings and specifications
  • prepare cost estimates and evaluate the cost efficiency of projects
  • assess environmental impacts of proposed developments
  • get plans approved by relevant authorities and get building permits
  • supervise construction to ensure structures are built correctly.

Physical Requirements

Civil engineers need to be reasonably fit as they may have to walk long distances to work sites, and carry equipment.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for civil engineers includes:

  • building, construction, roading or agriculture work
  • environmental, draughting or surveying work
  • practical work such as site investigations or geotechnical testing.

Personal Qualities

Civil engineers need to be:

  • skilled at accurately analysing and interpreting information
  • practical and logical, with good problem-solving skills
  • good at communicating
  • safety-conscious
  • good at planning and organising
  • creative and innovative, with good design skills
  • able to work independently and in a team.


Civil engineers need to have knowledge of:

  • civil engineering and surveying methods
  • relevant legislation such as the Resource Management Act, the New Zealand Building Code, by-laws and town planning regulations
  • building materials, and how they work.


Civil engineers:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may also work evenings and weekends 
  • work in offices, and at outdoor work sites
  • may travel locally.

Civil Engineers can earn around $100K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Civil Engineer are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for civil engineers varies depending on skills and experience.

  • Civil engineers usually earn an average of $100,000 a year.
  • Team leaders usually earn an average of $120,000.
  • Civil engineer managers can earn an average of $160,000.

Source: Engineering New Zealand, 'Remuneration Survey 2021 Snapshot', 2022.

Civil engineers may progress to work as contractors, or focus on work such as:

  • project management
  • construction management
  • planning
  • estimation
  • health and safety.

Civil engineers may also specialise in an area of civil engineering such as:

Coastal Engineer
Coastal engineers are involved in protection and erosion work along coasts and rivers. They design coastal structures such as sea walls, marinas and ports, and assess their environmental effects
Earthquake/Seismic Engineer
Earthquake/seismic engineers make structures, such as buildings and bridges, more resistant to earthquake damage.
Environmental Engineer
Environmental engineers assess the impact of engineering projects on water, soil, air and noise levels, and create ways to minimise this impact. They also plan and design systems to treat and remove waste.
Fire Engineer
Fire engineers advise people on how to apply fire safety features to buildings so that they meet the New Zealand Building Code. They also design features to help keep people and property safe in the event of a fire.
Geotechnical Engineer
Geotechnical engineers design the foundations of large structures, such as dams, tunnels, retaining walls or jetties, and assess how the soil and rock they are built on may affect them.
Quantity Surveyor
Quantity surveyors manage construction project finances. They calculate a budget based on their clients' requirements, and prepare detailed estimates to ensure the budget is sufficient for each stage of construction as the project develops.
Structural Engineer
Structural engineers analyse, design and manage the construction of a range of load-bearing structures such as houses, commercial buildings, sports stadiums, and bridges.
Transport Engineer
Transport engineers design, plan and supervise the building and repair of infrastructure such as roads, pavements, railways and tunnels. They may also research driver behaviour and transport safety and efficiency.
Water Resources Engineer
Water resources engineers design, organise and supervise the building and repair of structures such as dams, canals and irrigation systems. They also analyse natural waterflow systems such as streams, rivers and lakes, and work on urban drainage, flood and stormwater management projects.

Years Of Training

4 years of training required.

To become a civil engineer you need to have a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours.

Civil Engineer