What Does a Civil Engineer Do?

The success or failure of a development project can often be directly correlated to the efforts of civil engineers. It’s an incredibly demanding position with many roles and responsibilities, which range from designing and building structures to managing construction crews and ensuring safety protocols are met. They are considered vital personnel for any project and often work long, exhausting hours to make sure the job gets done right. In return, they are well paid and extremely valued for their efforts.

Though the responsibilities of civil engineers are highly varied, there are two primary roles they take on in development: Contracting and consulting. 

As a contracting engineer, they work on-site, managing the construction project and the crew, making sure that everything sticks to plan. As a consulting engineer, the focus is on designing the building plan. Each of these roles is necessary for a successful project, and each has additional responsibilities included which will be covered in this article.

Construction planning phase

Step one is one of the most essential roles a civil engineer plays: assessing the potential worksite. This entails thoroughly researching the location as well as other potential building spots and their surrounding areas, to make sure it meets all the requirements for the project.

Once the development site is settled, the engineer creates a much more detailed design of the building which is adjusted to fit the unique needs of the chosen location. They assess all of the risks involved and spend time working with the client and consulting with other experts to make sure the updated design is feasible and falls within budget.

Building phase

Once construction begins, the engineer now has new tasks to take on. They fill supervisory roles where they oversee the various crews and make sure everything stays on schedule. This involves coordinating between different subcontractors and crew leaders and taking daily inventory of what’s happening on-site. They have to act as a common line of communication between different departments, the client, and the project manager and be able to help quickly resolve any issues that arise.


A sub-role for civil engineers is making sure safety protocol is followed on the worksite. This means making sure workers use their equipment and safety materials properly and training them in proper protocol when they aren’t. This also means they have the power to stop work when they see significant safety violations.

Communication and connections

In addition to all of the responsibilities listed above, experienced civil engineers have to have excellent communication skills to make it in the industry. And this gives any project they’re involved in a major advantage, as they will usually have long-established relationships with local construction crews and city officials who you definitely want on your side if and when something goes wrong.

They’re also responsible for communicating with the project manager and keeping them and the foremen updated daily about day-to-day operations and overall project status. 

As you can see, civil engineers are basically the renaissance men and women of the development industry. They have several important roles and need to intimately understand several aspects of the development process. If you’re a new developer in the market for a knowledgable civil engineer, contact APX West at 928-412-3570. We have the expertise and experience to get your project up and running.

Contact us