How to become a... Civil Engineer Apprentice

Last updated: 23 November 2016

How to become a... Civil Engineer Apprentice

Why do we need these roles on the Thames Tideway Tunnel project?

In total we are building over 25 kilometres of new tunnel under London. We need a wide range of people to work on the project and civil engineers are an important part of the team.

What will I be doing?

Civil engineers work in a wide range of specialist roles that contribute to the design, planning and construction of the tunnel. You may be office or site based and as a trainee your job will certainly involve some work outside in all weathers.

You will be working alongside other professionals such as machinery and tunnelling operatives, site supervisors, surveyors, construction contractors, architects and engineers with other specialist skills. Depending on your exact course, as you learn you may get involved with construction site surveying, general labouring and site work, construction management, civil engineering technology, logistics, materials and CAD systems.

Your work might involve the planning of the tunnel route, the design of the underground structures we plan to intercept sewage flows, working on specifications for equipment or buildings, managing schedules or learning how to oversee practical construction work on site. You will often be involved in checking that work is progressing on time and to budget.

Engineers can be found right across the tunnel project and you will have opportunities to take on more responsibility, specialise and explore areas that interest you as your skills and knowledge increase. Working safely is a priority and you need to be able to understand and apply safe working practices at all times.

A typical day

You will normally work a 40 hour week Monday to Friday with one of those days spent attending an FE college. The range of jobs engineers do means that there is no typical day and a lot will depend on how your employer rotates you around sites and working teams, but the aim of the apprenticeship is to give you a broad understanding of the skills you need and the options open to you to make progress in your chosen field. Working on site can often mean lots of travel and you may need to stay away from home at times.

Useful interests and qualities

Good communication skills and a readiness to work hard and seize opportunities to learn and develop your skills are important. You can expect to take further exams and qualifications, including working towards professional Chartership, if you are ambitious and want to progress to becoming a fully qualified civil engineer.

Entry requirements

Ideally you will need GCSE grades A-C in maths, English and science to become an apprentice engineer. If you don’t have these you may have to pass tests in numeracy and literacy before getting on the course. IT is also useful. Apprenticeships are available from level 2 to level 5 and can provide an alternative route into engineering for those wishing to learn and earn at the same time.

Pay and prospects

Starting pay for an engineering apprentice is around £15,000. Once you are a qualified engineer you can expect to earn between £17,000 and £25,000 per year. Experienced engineers can earn up to £50,000 and a senior chartered engineer would normally earn more than that.

Next steps

Engineering apprenticeships may be offered by our construction contractors as they are appointed during 2015, and a number of apprentice engineers have been taken on to work with the project team prior to construction.


We’re committed to ensuring access to opportunities for groups under-represented in the workforce in terms of their ethnicity, gender and disability so please, give it a go if you have the skills and aptitude.