How to select the best civil engineering course?

When you are looking for courses to pursue in a certain field, it is natural to feel apprehensive about your ability to pursue that course. When it comes to civil engineering, the availability of a broad spectrum of options may confuse you more. The world relies on civil engineers to build and maintain the infrastructure required, for the use and convenience of humankind. Civil engineering has existed since the time when humans started abandoning nomadic life. It is one of the major branches of engineering and is considered the oldest too, second only to military engineering. The term was coined in the 18th century to incorporate the civilian side of engineering as opposed to the military. The oldest civilizations in the world such as that of ancient Egypt, the Indus Valley, and Mesopotamia are living proof of the existence of civil engineering. Since civil engineering is an extremely broad subject and encompasses multiple disciplines, therefore it is prudent to have an insight into the various branches to select the best civil engineering course.

The scope of a civil engineer

Today, the imprints of civil engineering are present everywhere we go; be it the highways and city roads, the bridges and ports, the sky-scrapers, or the school buildings; every man-made structure is testimony to the convenience it brings to our lives. Hence, a civil engineer’s job is to conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems. These projects deal with the physical environment, and involve but are not limited to the development of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, canals, pipelines, dams, bridges, hyperloop structures, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

To be effective, civil engineers must have a diverse skill set, that of expertise and knowledge of their craft as also as current regulations, laws, and industry standards. A civil engineer should also have a fair amount of liaisoning and people skills, as constant interaction, and coordination among teams, and between the contractor and the promoter (owner) are the norm to get the projects completed. If you are someone who wants to make an impact in the construction industry and want to pursue a career in that direction, it would be helpful to stay informed about what this career entails and its scope. Civil engineers get opportunities to work in organizations that are involved in planning, designing, constructing, research and education. Depending on your area of interest, you can select the area of your specialization. Therefore, you must gain clarity on the various options available in this field.

Eligibility criteria for Civil Engineering Study Programmes

Let's look at the primary eligibility criteria first. The subjects you take in school will determine your basic eligibility for any engineering programme. To pursue higher education in Civil Engineering, you need to have passed Class 12 in the Science stream with Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics. Most recognized colleges and universities require an overall pass percentage of 45% in 10+2 and a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate in Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics (40% for SC/ST category candidates). Grades of common entrance exams such as IITJEE, AIEEE, BITSAT, JEE Main, JEE Advanced, etc., with a positive score, are also considered. A bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering is a 4-year undergraduate engineering degree course that is divided into 8 semesters. It features a mixture of classroom lectures and lab work.

The Sub-Streams/ Specialisations

Civil Engineering is constantly adapting and responding to new challenges, such as water shortage, depleting energy resources, pollution, climate change, etc. Since civil engineering is an extremely broad subject and encompasses multiple disciplines, it is pertinent to know the various specializations available for you to choose from. Let’s have a look at the most popular specializations in Civil Engineering in 2022.

Construction Engineering – This field is related to overseeing the completion of infrastructure projects such as roads, railroads, bridges, tunnels, airports, buildings, dams, utilities, and other projects, from start to finish. This entails designing, planning, constructing, and maintenance of the facilities by coordinating all the activities of the various professionals involved in the project such as architects, builders, electricians, plumbers, and financiers. Construction engineers are responsible for ensuring that the projects are built in accordance with the plans and specifications and that the scheduled timelines and safety norms are being adhered to. Compliance to local, state, and federal building codes also have to be ensured. Construction engineers tend to spend a considerable amount of time outdoors at construction sites after the designing and planning stage is over, to monitor operations and solve onsite problems. Some jobs may require frequent touring and relocation.

Environmental Engineering – The search for sustainable living is more relevant today as pollution and environmental issues are cropping up at an alarming rate. This specialty focuses on exploring ways to improve living conditions through sustainable methods and processes, such as by using alternative renewable energy sources like solar, wind, water or nuclear and other resources. Environmental engineers are engaged in improving sanitation systems, waste and water management in rural and urban areas, improving insulation to reduce energy usage in a cold climate, or air circulation and ventilation in buildings to decrease dependence on artificial cooling measures and thereby reducing energy use. Advances have been made in improvising plumbing fixtures to lessen water usage and using natural lighting to decrease the dependence on artificial lighting. The opportunities in this field are limitless and require expert knowledge as well as creativity. 

Structural Engineering – Structural integrity is critical for ensuring that a construction project is safe and stable and will not collapse under applied loads. Structural engineering is a specialty within the field of civil engineering that focuses on the designing of the framework of structures in a way that enables them to withstand the stresses and pressures of their environment, thereby making them stable, reliable, safe, and secure throughout the period of their use. It is the structural engineer’s job to ensure that buildings and bridges can support their weight as well as the additional weight that is likely to be encountered during use. The structural engineer’s job is to determine how much of the total weight the structure can withstand and how the framework will be able to counter it without collapsing and what materials are to be used during construction, and how they are to be built. 

Transportation Engineering – Civilisations have always depended on transportation to improve trade and commerce. Trade routes and harbours, and land and air-based systems play an essential role in the development of society. Transportation engineering deals with the design, development, and management of public transportation systems ranging from roads, subways, railways, and bridges, and their operation at the urban scale, to railroad, seaway, and airport location, construction, and operation at the regional and national scale to provide for the safe, efficient and convenient movement of people and goods. The transportation engineer is responsible for planning, designing, building, operating, and maintaining these systems of transport. There is a multitude of challenges faced by transportation engineers in developing both network links and major terminals that satisfy transportation demands as well as environmental concerns.

Geotechnical Engineering – The stability and chemical composition of the soil and rock on which a project is built is the mainstay of geotechnical engineering. Soil properties and their behavior, under the influence of loading forces, and the soil-water mechanics and interactions of rocks, snow, clay, silt, and sand are studied. The building methods for sandy soil are different from that of rocky terrain and the geotechnical engineer is responsible for applying this knowledge to the design of foundations, retaining walls, earth dams, clay liners, and geosynthetics in landfill disposal of waste and groundwater, so that these structures retain their effectiveness and do not crumble or get damaged from erosion.

Water Resources EngineeringWater is the world’s most critical resource. Having safe and adequate drinking water is a necessity for all creatures on earth as it sustains life. Freshwater is perhaps the most dominant natural resource for human survival. Water also powers industrial production and thus the global economy. Understanding the quantity, quality, and variability of existing groundwater, and surface water are essential before the engineers plan, design, procure, build, manage and operate infrastructure to meet the ever-increasing water needs of domestic users, industry, and agriculture. Water resource engineering involves the design, construction, and maintenance of equipment and systems to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of water treatment and aquatic resources. The water resource engineers are responsible for the holistic, integrated management of water resources and the sustainable return of water to its natural environment. Water treatment facilities, dams, underground wells, and natural springs are some areas where water resource engineers are engaged in treating the water and managing the water resources for distribution to household and industrial customers.

Popular Job Designations

Employment prospects for civil engineers are bright and optimistic. A career in this field is both challenging and rewarding and opens the door to many opportunities. There is scope for upward progression and a decent compensation package from the start. Employment opportunities are available in the public sector and the private sector, such as in public utilities, governmental agencies, environmental agencies, resource industry companies, geotechnical and engineering consultancies, trucking, railroad and airline companies, vehicle manufacturing, traffic and transit agencies, etc. Some of the job listings may have the following designations.


  • Billing Engineer
  • Building control surveyor
  • Building services engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • CAD Technician
  • Construction Engineer
  • Cost & Estimation Engineer
  • Engineering geologist
  • Environmental engineers
  • Estimation/costing Engineer
  • Fire Risk Assessor
  • Geo-technical engineers
  • Planning Engineer
  • project engineer
  • QA/QC
  • Quantity surveyor
  • Sales Engineer
  • Site engineer
  • Specification engineer
  • Sustainability Consultant
  • Structural engineer
  • Transportation engineers
  • Urban Planners
  • Water engineer


All said and done, at the core of civil engineering is finding holistic, creative, and practical solutions for the world’s problems by using the concepts of science and technology. The perks of pursuing this branch of engineering are the pragmatic nature of the subject that involves plenty of project work, the implementation of applied aspects of maths and physics, industry placement opportunities, attractive remuneration, and other facilities. Demand for civil engineers is continually growing, and they are poised to be significant contributors to society.


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