Civil Engineering degree but not joining RE

#1
I am due to start a Civil Engineering degree in September and after university go to Sandhurst. I strongly believe the university experience would do me a world of good in terms of growing up, as well as learning some basics in the UOTC and the only degree I would ever want to do is Civil Engineering. That being said I would love to join the Infantry/Armoured Corps, where the main task would be combat rather than to provide infrastructure etc. I know the RE will have their fair share of action and the diversity of what they do is very appealing, but at the moment I am learning towards the aforementioned options. Would it be foolish to attempt to join the infantry/RAC with a civil engineering degree?

Any comments/thoughts would be great.
 
Last edited:
#2
Join the infantry or armoured corps then, you’ll gain more qualifications and have an engineering degree in your back pocket.

It will give you more options in the long run.
 
#3
As @dingerr says, if your heart is pulling you in a particular direction, follow it rather than in the future regretting what might have been.

The only flip side argument I'll throw in, is related to how long you see yourself doing the sharp end, dealer of death piece. Because going the RE route (which can still be fairly crunchy) with a Civil Engineering degree will let you get CEng etc (which might be useful in the future), whereas in the inf, you won't get the chance of the necessary professional engineering experience.
 
#4
Here's a slightly contrary view which adds to what @ancient_lbv said above. I've worked with a bunch of engineers, mixed mech and civil, who are mostly in their 30s/40s, fairly senior and pretty well paid. Apart from the odd sabbatical I can't think of one who hasn't done a series of progressively more senior engineering roles in their careers since their initial degree training - it seems to be pretty much a requirement to have a cv of major projects/roles to have the necessary street cred for senior jobs.

Fill your boots on the inf/armr front but unless it's for fairly short service, don't kid yourself you'll be stepping into senior engineering roles later, as I think you'd probably have to start at the bottom (again).

Whatever you do, good luck with it.
 
#5
While you are at Uni join the Army Reserve in whichever unit you like.
You will be paid for having a great experience and won't be wasting so much time in the company of civvy *******.
Also quite a lot of young ladies get all moist at the sight of a dashing young man in uniform so you will have an advantage over the aforementioned civvy *******.

Win, win and win again.
 
#6
You could do an SSC in the RE and leave with CEng status. Not to be sneezed at. You will likely have as good a time the in the RE as in the RAC. Particularly if you push for an Armd Engr regt.
 
#7
The Sappers are everywhere and if you play your cards right could serve as a Sapper officer in any one of the teeth arms (old lingo for Inf and Armour) of ever a Para/Marine attachment. This has been covered before but get the cordite and cam cream out of your system with the OTC and Sandhurst will certainly knock it out of your system!
You are young and you will learn!
And the CEng Roadster mentioned is not to be sniffed at.
 
#9
@MHants1999 there’s some advice on here that you need to sift out and ignore from people who haven’t read engineering and have never worked in the industry.

I faced a similar dilemma at your age and chose the Sappers but have also had several years in industry too. I am a Chartered Engineer, and have mentored Graduate schemes and sat in review panels. So here’s my advice.

If you want to be an engineer, get the best degree you can achieve. Go and get a post/graduate cadetship with the best civils company you can find, one with a proper program for mentoring and a track record of developing young engineers. Work on the biggest, most complex civils projects you can get on and push hard to get yourself chartered.

Join the Reserve to get your fix of soldiering. Again, go for the best; challenge yourself with Paras, SF or whatever and get commissioned. A Reserve commission can really speed your route to chartership by givIng you management experience that can be hard to get as a junior engineer. By far the biggest push back at Chartered Professional Review I saw was lack of management and leadership experience.

If you want an Regular Army career, it means compromising your engineering career whatever you join. The Sappers May be everywhere, they may have roles ranging from professional engineers right through to Commando and Para. But don’t let them kid you that they do much of the proper, real, complex engineering that will satisfy someone who is truly a vocational engineer. Sure, you can get Chartered but your CV won’t have any real projects of substance. Perfectly possible to get good jobs in the industry after a Sapper career, but they will almost certainly be project management roles, not senior engineer roles.

Join the Infantry or Armoured Corps for anything more than 3-5 years and you will pretty much say goodbye to a real engineering career. You will find it very difficult to get into an engineering cadetship scheme five years after graduating. Doesn’t stop you getting into the project management side of engineering of course, but you’ll be way behind your contemporaries.

My last thoughts; you don’t have to make a decision yet. You may find that after three years at Uni an engineering career isn’t that attractive. I know several people who walked away from engineering completely and never went back, some of whom going on to very successful service careers and never touching engineering again.

On the other hand, you might be so fired up by engineering that you no longer countenance the thought of compromising your engineering career to join the infantry.

I think you’ll know the answer when the time comes. Meantime enjoy University. And do something (lots of things) there that widen your horizons; engineers can be very dull people!
 

MrBane

LE
Moderator
Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
#10
@MHants1999 there’s some advice on here that you need to sift out and ignore from people who haven’t read engineering and have never worked in the industry.

I faced a similar dilemma at your age and chose the Sappers but have also had several years in industry too. I am a Chartered Engineer, and have mentored Graduate schemes and sat in review panels. So here’s my advice.

If you want to be an engineer, get the best degree you can achieve. Go and get a post/graduate cadetship with the best civils company you can find, one with a proper program for mentoring and a track record of developing young engineers. Work on the biggest, most complex civils projects you can get on and push hard to get yourself chartered.

Join the Reserve to get your fix of soldiering. Again, go for the best; challenge yourself with Paras, SF or whatever and get commissioned. A Reserve commission can really speed your route to chartership by givIng you management experience that can be hard to get as a junior engineer. By far the biggest push back at Chartered Professional Review I saw was lack of management and leadership experience.

If you want an Regular Army career, it means compromising your engineering career whatever you join. The Sappers May be everywhere, they may have roles ranging from professional engineers right through to Commando and Para. But don’t let them kid you that they do much of the proper, real, complex engineering that will satisfy someone who is truly a vocational engineer. Sure, you can get Chartered but your CV won’t have any real projects of substance. Perfectly possible to get good jobs in the industry after a Sapper career, but they will almost certainly be project management roles, not senior engineer roles.

Join the Infantry or Armoured Corps for anything more than 3-5 years and you will pretty much say goodbye to a real engineering career. You will find it very difficult to get into an engineering cadetship scheme five years after graduating. Doesn’t stop you getting into the project management side of engineering of course, but you’ll be way behind your contemporaries.

My last thoughts; you don’t have to make a decision yet. You may find that after three years at Uni an engineering career isn’t that attractive. I know several people who walked away from engineering completely and never went back, some of whom going on to very successful service careers and never touching engineering again.

On the other hand, you might be so fired up by engineering that you no longer countenance the thought of compromising your engineering career to join the infantry.

I think you’ll know the answer when the time comes. Meantime enjoy University. And do something (lots of things) there that widen your horizons; engineers can be very dull people!
Agree with all above. The military whilst a great life, can seriously damage your civilian qualifications. I always think that for someone who's done a proper Uni degree, go the Reserves route - the army won't appreciate your bit of paper and by the time you realise this, that bit of paper will be worth less compared to your peers who went straight into the profession. You'll also have earned a lot less than your peers in the private sector!
 
#11
Agree with all above. The military whilst a great life, can seriously damage your civilian qualifications. I always think that for someone who's done a proper Uni degree, go the Reserves route - the army won't appreciate your bit of paper and by the time you realise this, that bit of paper will be worth less compared to your peers who went straight into the profession. You'll also have earned a lot less than your peers in the private sector!
Pretty much what I did. Lots of fun in the sun with the army on MOD related tasks while pursuing my career. I am sure being RE TA / Reserve helped at professional chartership interview too- not many pass first time - I did and I'm sure my 'commitment to surveying and army' were taken into account.
 
Last edited:
#12
I am sure being RE TA / Reserve helped at professional chartership interview too- not many pass first time - I did and I'm sure my 'commitment to surveying and army were taken into account.
I used to sit on 3-4 professional review panels a year. We’d see quite a few very capable, experienced vocational engineers who had worked on some great projects but they’d never managed anything other than their own workstream. It’s all too common for junior engineers to spend their entire working life in front of a computer. Hence my comment about finding a good cadetship program.

I’m a big believer in encouraging engineers to look outside of their profession. There are too many who don’t understand the commercial context of engineering, can’t write and can’t communicate ideas, let alone lead a project team.
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
S Sappers 12
selotape Sappers 17
Capt Jobsearch Jobs Offered 0

Similar threads

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top