How to Become a Civil Engineer or a Civil Engineer Technician in South Africa: Qualifications, Jobs, and Salary

Civil Engineers are responsible for designing, organizing, and maintaining a variety of construction projects. Depending on their field and employer, they may be involved in the development of roads, buildings, or airports. Additionally, they may also work on building tunnels, dams, bridges, water supply structures, and sewage systems. Their right hands are civil engineer technicians who assist them regularly.

Civil engineers and civil engineering technicians may work on the field, on construction sites, or within an office. Sometimes they work in teams making sure that a project reaches its proper completion. In some cases, they can take on significant projects on their own as employees or freelancers.
A Civil Engineer requires a solid set of skills and qualifications that result from mandatory Civil Engineer courses and apprenticeships. Proper learning and training provide future artisans with essential knowledge of planning and construction.

Civil Engineer jobs in South Africa pay an above-average salary. The same goes for civil engineer technicians. This specialization comes with essential benefits and good prospects for qualified labourers. Furthermore, they can apply for Civil Engineering positions in a wide variety of sectors, such as government departments or construction companies.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Civil Engineer?

Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority

About the accreditation, courses & Seta


NQF Levels: NQF 4    

SAQA Code:

97388   - Occupational Certificate

Civil engineering is a highly rewarding job. However, before obtaining a solid position, engineering graduates have to learn responsibilities and experience from seasoned engineers. During this time, they will work both on the field and in the office. This way, they will learn both the theoretical part and the practical requirements for the job.

To work as a Civil Engineer or a civil engineer technician, one must have a Matric Grade 9 certificate confirming the completion of the studies period. Some employers may require higher certifications. Registered operators in this field have to gain their skills and knowledge from short courses and training before they are eligible to earn an entry-level salary.

The jobs of Civil Engineer and Civil Engineer Technician in South Africa are part of the MerSETA (Manufacturing Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority) environment.

To be able to apply for this position, you must:

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  • Be at least 16years old
  • NQF Level 7 with Mathematical Literacy and Physical Sciences
  • Possess excellent knowledge of civil engineering
  • Have a good grasp of planning, designing, maintenance, and management of projects
  • Have a national certificate that shows you have completed Civil Engineer courses

Besides these mandatory qualifications, a civil engineer or a civil engineer technician must also prove the following traits:

  • Be physically fit to stand or sit for long periods
  • Be willing and able to work long hours
  • Have an aptitude for science and mathematics
  • Enjoy doing accurate and precise work
  • Enjoy traveling to construction sites
  • Constantly update their education to fit the latest technological advances
  • Able to work meticulously for long periods
  • Be willing to work with close deadlines
  • Be creative and have initiative
  • Have an interest and flair for computer work

According to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), having a Civil Engineering job also implies these requirements:

  • An in-depth understanding of health and safety compliance rules
  • Excellent knowledge of construction in many sectors, such as structural, environmental, and transportation
  • A good grasp of codes and calculations supplied by engineers, surveyors, architects, or scientists
  • The ability to work well with others
  • Optimal managerial qualities
  • A great set of communication skills
  • Be able to manage and organize projects

What is a Civil Engineer’s Job?

The job of civil engineering is one of the oldest in the world. Ever since ancient times, communities had one or more problem-solving engineers. Their duty was to create and develop safer habitable structures, transportation facilities, and more. For this reason, being a civil engineer brings prestige and appreciation to anyone performing it.

Nowadays, civil engineers and civil engineering technicians can work in a wide range of specialized fields which include structural design, marine, environmental, construction, hydraulic engineering, transportation, and geotechnical engineering.

Civil engineering technicians work as assistants to civil engineers. Their responsibilities include creating plans, surveying sites, and inspecting projects.

Expert civil engineers have a broad range of engineering, mathematics, and managerial abilities, which they gain from study and hands-on experience.

Civil Engineering comes with very few occupational hazards and dangers. Such professionals often have to work intensively for long periods on critical projects for their communities. Therefore, they may experience stress at a higher level than in other professions.

The main duties of a civil engineer or a civil engineering technician include:

  • Studying blueprints and understanding their specifications
  • Designing structures of various kinds and purposes
  • Demonstrating elevated knowledge and abilities in mathematics and design
  • Working with complex sketches and requirements from other engineers and scientists
  • Producing drawings, sketches, and calculations both by hand on the computer
  • Using computer technology with ease
  • Using hand-drawing and calculation tools of various types
  • Traveling to other offices or worksites to gain first-hand information about a project
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After finishing Civil Engineer courses and four years as an apprentice, one can begin a career as a drafter in sectors like:

  • Government departments and provincial administrations
  • Municipalities
  • Engineering or architectural firms
  • Technological education centres
  • Construction companies
  • Heavy engineering industry
  • Civil engineering freelance

How Much Does a Civil Engineer Earn in a Year?

A proper set of Civil Engineering skills and the obligatory civil engineer studies can help a professional earn an above-average salary in South Africa.

At the moment, the average hourly pay for Civil Engineers is R120.83. Depending on your level of abilities and experience, you can earn between R25 and R413 per hour. In addition, you may also receive a bonus ranging between R5,000 and R62,000 for an entire year.

On the other hand, Civil Engineering Technicians earn an average hourly pay of R50.39. Their annual salary varies between R121 and R413, depending on their experience. Lastly, yearly bonuses range between R3,000 and R31,000.

As a student or apprentice, you may earn only the minimum rate at first. However, in time, you can earn an average of R244,000 per year. The most that you can make within 12 months of working as a Civil Engineer in South Africa is R882k, which is well above the average wage.

How to Work as a Civil Engineer in South Africa

South Africa has a broad market for Civil Engineer jobs. There is substantial demand for such professionals in several industries and sectors, with more than 1,000 listings currently available. On the other hand, civil engineering technician jobs only surpass 100 listings. 

Candidates meeting the mandatory qualifications and expert skills have several directories available to apply for this specialization.

Civil engineering courses give you an in-depth understanding of what this vocation requires. They help you acquire skills and experience that are impossible to obtain through other learning methods. By having a certificate that proves you had training in the field, you have an immediate advantage over other candidates for the same job. 

Working as a Civil Engineer in South Africa gives you the freedom to pick a field of work from numerous industries and job sites. Additionally, with enough experience and knowledge, you can start your Civil Engineering business and practise the trade privately.

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