Job descriptions and industry overviews

Water engineer: job description

27 Feb 2024, 15:37

Water engineers focus on projects relating to water management, ensuring water can be used by individuals and organisations, and that it does not cause damage.

Water ripple.

Water engineer : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Water engineers work on projects connected with water management. This can involve ensuring that water is contained – for example, via planning flood defences – and that water is available to those who need it – for example, via designing systems to deliver water and sewerage systems to construction projects.

Typical duties include:

  • producing designs, both initial outlines and full plans, for sewerage, water treatment, flood defence structures and other water-related projects.
  • using specialist software to map out scenarios such as flood defence failure.
  • managing and maintaining water and sewerage infrastructure operations.
  • presenting project details and technical information to colleagues and clients.
  • keeping up to date with changes in regulatory legislation and guidelines.
  • writing and advertising tender documents and managing contracts.
  • liaising with clients, contractors, government agencies, local authorities and suppliers.
  • engaging in public consultations about water projects.
  • monitoring conditions at sites – for example, checking water levels.
  • maintaining professional relationships with clients.
  • supervising staff and site workers.
  • ensuring that projects keep to budgets and timescales.
  • maintaining an awareness of current environmental issues.

The role is likely to involve site visits, some of which could be remote. You may need to work long hours if project deadlines are imminent. You may also need to be on-call or work unsociable hours if work on projects is operating continuously.

Graduate salaries

Salary survey websites suggest that starting salaries for water engineers tend to be around £22,000. Earnings increase as you gain experience, especially if you achieve chartership.

Typical employers of water engineers

  • Engineering consultancies.
  • Privately owned water companies.
  • Regulatory bodies.
  • The Environment Agency.
  • British Waterways.
  • Charities such as the Canal and River Trust.

Job vacancies are advertised on targetjobs and by careers services.

You’ll also find roles advertised on specialist jobs boards. If you’re interested in working in a specific sector, then look on sector-specific jobs boards.

For help with applying for engineering jobs and internships, take a look at our engineering CV and covering letter tips and our advice on filling out online applications .

To find out how much money you could earn as an engineer, see our engineering salary round-up .

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this career for graduates and school leavers.

Graduates need a degree in a relevant subject such as chemical, civil, mechanical or environmental engineering, environmental science, geology or physical geography. Some employers will ask for a 2.1 degree but others will accept candidates with a 2.2 degree. Head to our list of engineering employers that accept 2.2 degrees for more .

A postgraduate qualification may be required for some positions, and can be beneficial for graduates without relevant first degrees. A list of accredited courses is available on the Engineering Council’s website and you can read our article on engineering postgraduate study to explore your options.

School leavers can take an engineering apprenticeship, which involves working in a relevant role (such as a technician) and studying alongside this.

Achieving chartered (CEng) status with the Engineering Council can help to demonstrate your professionalism and commitment to your field. To become chartered, you will need an accredited bachelors degree in engineering or technology (this can include a degree studied as part of a degree apprenticeship) plus an appropriate masters degree (MEng) or doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution such as the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM). You will also be eligible with an integrated MSc. To find out more, make sure to read our guide to chartership .

Key skills for water engineers

  • Excellent technical skills.
  • Teamworking skills.
  • Problem-solving skills.
  • Project management skills.
  • Good time management.
  • Commercial awareness.
  • Communication skills.
  • The ability to demonstrate a genuine knowledge and interest of the water industry and environmental issues.

Next, head to our article on the skills engineering employers seek for more information and then find out how you can prove you possess these competencies at engineering assessment centres .

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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