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Insights What does a highway engineer do and what does their career path look like?

Any major road or highway construction involves a variety of transport professionals, including highway engineers, highway designers, water resources engineers, transport planners, environmental planners, and many more experienced personnel.

The role of a highway engineer in construction projects is focused on the concept and feasibility of the design, meaning the duties and responsibilities are diverse and there is a great opportunity to develop a broad skillset. A highway engineer job is suited to anyone who is passionate about working in the building and construction industry and wants to develop their analytical thinking and design skills.

Read on for the day-to-day duties of a highway engineer and what the typical career path looks like.

How to become a highway engineer

A highway engineer job is a road to a rewarding career working on multi-disciplinary engineering projects. There are two traditional routes to become a highway engineer: one is to apply for an apprenticeship at an engineering company and the second is to gain a B.S. or M.S. in Engineering and then have the chance to enrol on a Graduate Programme. Both career paths are a great opportunity to work alongside talented professionals, develop expertise and gain exposure to an exciting range of projects.

A highway engineer’s CV will show evidence of skills in technical writing, computing and communication and often experience using computer software such as AutoCAD and OpenRoads. Over time, as these skills are honed, there’s the option to progress to a senior highway engineer where responsibilities include overseeing the personnel working on the project and preparing job budgets and schedules.

this is an image of motorways crossing each other

A highway engineer’s duties and responsibilities

The role of a highway engineer is to oversee the costing, estimating, planning and implementation of a project. This makes highway engineering a diverse and rewarding career, with day-to-day duties ranging from undertaking site surveys to preparing design specifications, organising deliverable packages and much more.

A highway engineer job will involve liaising with other transport professionals around the globe with some of the largest projects taking place across the United States, Europe, Canada and India. Read about how Atkins – a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group – involved their India team in the history-altering A14 road project in the UK.

How technology is changing the role

It’s an exciting new era for the UK’s highways sector. Digital tools and data are being used to make better design choices and drive efficiencies through developing digital asset management techniques. As a result, the industry is delivering intelligent infrastructure solutions that enable better investment, operation and maintenance decisions.

The importance of highway engineering

When planning and constructing a highway or road, many factors need to be taken into consideration, such as the impact on the local road network, a potential surge in traffic and new access routes. For the project to be seamless, it requires strong cooperation and communication between the personnel working on the project.

During the design process, the town planner will offer advice on the land use principles, the architects will provide their expertise for the design concepts and the highway engineers will use this information to guide their engineering drawings and assessment of cost effectiveness.

A highway engineering job is a great career in which to develop a knowledge of highways, the associated infrastructure and an understanding of how different engineering and non-engineering disciplines collaborate to deliver projects in a safety critical environment. It’s an opportunity to work in an industry that is becoming increasingly diverse.

Bring your highway engineering career to Atkins

At Atkins, we have a diverse mix of employees from new apprentices and graduates to long-serving employees with years of invaluable knowledge. If you choose a roads engineering job with us you’ll be collaborating with some of the industry’s top talent who will help you develop both a broad and extensive level of knowledge. View our current transport jobs or to get a better idea of what it's like to work in the industry, read about Kelly's digital future in highways and roads.

Learn more about our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.