Are you looking for research and development jobs in civil engineering? You may have just completed your PhD and want to build on your research in a postdoctoral role. Or perhaps you’re a seasoned researcher looking for your next move up the research career ladder.
Whatever your current position, you’ll find an exceptionally broad range of civil engineering research roles and projects available. Whether it’s using your knowledge to research and develop green transport or working with geospatial engineering technologies to plan new infrastructure, civil engineering research offers a varied and exciting career.
Universities and research institutes are at the forefront of civil engineering research, working in tandem with industry and governments to tackle the structural and sustainability problems faced by today’s world.
How do you get into civil engineering research?
There is a multitude of current and active global research programmes and initiatives, demanding specific skills and knowledge. Universities look to hire civil engineers who have gained specialist knowledge during doctoral studies as well as through industry experience. There is particular demand for specialists in the fields of structural and environmental engineering and the development of sustainable infrastructure and water and energy resources technologies.
Upon completion of a PhD (or soon-to-be awarded) in an area related to the civil engineering research field you wish to pursue, your next step would be to look for postdoc, fellowship or associate research roles in a university, research institute or in the commercial sector which align with your expertise and knowledge.
Most engineering research jobs depend on the availability of funding and interest and are mainly offered on a temporary, fixed-term basis. Therefore, you’ll need to complete at least a couple of postdoctoral research projects before you can make the move up the career ladder to research associate, senior researcher or lecturer.
Promotion depends on the skills and knowledge you acquire during postdoctoral research, as well as a demonstrable track record of successful outcomes.
Working as a Civil Engineering Researcher
Civil engineering is a fast-moving area focusing on the development of new technologies, systems and infrastructure which best serve society.
It’s a diverse field spanning everything from buildings to transport. However, in terms of research, civil engineering can be broadly divided into the following areas:
- Fluid mechanics
- Environmental and water resources
- Sustainable energy and technologies
The posts you apply for will depend on how your knowledge and expertise fits in with the research priorities of the university or specialist facility. If you apply for a university-based research job, you will find yourself working in a multi-disciplinary team, collaborating with senior academics, engineers, scientists and experts from the commercial sector and industry.
The day-to-day tasks of a civil engineering researcher depend on the type of project you’re involved in. One day you could be working with other research engineers in a computer lab or workshop, the next helping to write up outcomes for publication.
Universities are keen to promote links between their research staff and students, so roles may also include some ad hoc teaching and workshop demonstration.
Most civil engineering research roles are structured as follows:
- Creating and conducting experiments and computational modelling in a technical environment
- Collaborating with scientists and engineers in universities, industry and research institutes around the world
- Data analysis and publication of results
- Working in multi-disciplinary teams to design, test and develop new technology
- Co-production of articles for submission to peer-reviewed journals
- Helping to draw up further research proposals
- Carrying out practical demonstrations for undergraduate and postgraduate students
Where to find jobs
Civil engineering research is a global endeavour, and you’ll find postdoctoral opportunities in universities, research and development facilities and industry around the world.
Research is funding-dependent, so availability of jobs is linked to the current research focus and priorities of each university, research institute and country. Civil engineering research is often funded in collaboration with industry so this should also be a consideration in where you look for jobs.
You can find out more about how civil engineering research and development is funded in the UK and how projects might fit your background and knowledge at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
If you choose to work as a researcher in a university, here are some of the roles you may come across during your search:
- Postdoctoral researcher/assistant
- Research technician/workshop technician
- Research Fellow or Associate
- Senior research associate/fellow
- Civil Engineering lecturer/senior lecturer
If you’re just starting out on your civil engineering research career, check out our Junior Researcher CV template, which can help you to showcase your skills and experience.
Find civil engineering research jobs here.
Salaries in engineering research vary depending on the field and specific research activities of the university. However, as a general rule, postdoctoral researchers and research associates in engineering can expect to start on a salary of around £30,000 to £39,999 p.a.
If you’re an aspiring civil engineering researcher, you may be thinking about undertaking doctoral studies in your area of interest. Doctoral research is ideal for engineering graduates who are looking towards an academic career or those who wish to discover more about a specific field before embarking on a career in industry.
There are a wide range of PhD studentships available in civil engineering. A PhD takes around 3-5 years to complete; most are fully funded and come with a UKRI standard stipend in the range of £15,000 and £17,000 p.a.
For more helpful information about where a PhD can take your career, check out our post ‘What jobs can you get with a PhD?’
Find PhD studentships in Civil Engineering here.
- Academic jobs in Civil Engineering
- Lecturing Jobs in Civil Engineering
- Senior-Level Jobs in Civil Engineering