Hydraulic engineer job

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Andrew Parry works in Cambridge for Mott MacDonald, a worldwide engineering and management consultancy business. She works as a hydraulic engineer, involved in projects concerned with water.

What do hydraulic engineers do?

They are involved in projects such as the design of coastal defences, land drainage (reclaiming land from the sea), river flood defences, the design of dams and reservoirs, and the supply of drinking water.

What does your hydraulic engineer job involve?

I use computer software to model how water moves. This can be used in a variety of ways, such as flood-risk mapping, modelling sewage outfalls and plotting natural phenomena – like currents in coastal regions of the sea.

Why did you choose to be a hydraulic engineer?

When I applied to university, I didn't know what sort of engineering I wanted to do. Luckily, Cambridge teaches a general engineering course, so for the first two years you get to try a bit of everything (civil, mechanical, electrical, electronic and materials engineering). In the end, I found environmental fluid dynamics really interesting, so I decided on this field of engineering after finishing my PhD. I also have previous experience of the manufacturing industry and modelling fluid dynamics in jet engines.

What training have you received?

There is an ongoing training scheme for graduates that leads to chartered status, which I am currently doing with the Chartered Institute for Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

What hours do you work?

I usually work from 9.00am to 5.30pm, with an hour for lunch. Sometimes I stay a bit late, but overtime is not usually required.

What do you like best about your hydraulic engineer job?

It's really interesting! I like the atmosphere – it is stimulating and friendly. The work is only stressful when we have a big deadline approaching. I am learning a lot about different areas of environmental science, which I haven't done since my GCSEs, and I am able to use aspects of my degree in my work.

What do you dislike about the job?

It's not the best paid job, but the salary is respectable. Relocation may also be necessary to boost your promotion prospects.

What skills do you need to be a hydraulic engineer?

You need to be a good team worker, to have good communication skills and a thorough understanding of engineering principles. It's important to feel comfortable working with computers. It also helps to have an interest in the environment.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to become chartered and to gain more responsibility, such as project managing. It's also important for me to try and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Andrew's route to his hydraulic engineer job

  • A Levels.
  • Degree in Engineering.
  • Masters Degree in Engineering.
  • PhD.

Andrew's Hydraulic engineer job tips

  • Go on an Insight (women only) or Headstart course while doing you're a levels – these are taster courses in engineering.
  • Get some work experience during summer breaks at university, or take a year out.
  • Try the 'Year in Industry' scheme to find a year's work placement.
  • Look at the engineering institutions' websites for lots of information about what jobs are available, and what they actually involve.

Hydraulic engineer related jobs












  • Civil engineering technician
  • Design engineer
  • Environmental scientist
  • Geologist
  • Rural surveyor
  • Town planner

Salary of a hydraulic engineer

  • New engineering graduates earn from around £19,000 to £22,000 a year.
  • Experienced civil engineers may earn about £35,000. Senior Chartered Civil Engineers can earn over £45,000 a year.
  • Many salaries, particularly with site-based work, come with extra benefits.
  • These could include a bonus, a company car or care allowance, life insurance, overtime pay and medical care.

Hydraulic engineer job

  • There are about 100,000 professional civil engineers in the UK and opportunities in this job sector are growing. The usual qualification needed to train as a civil engineer is a degree in a relevant subject.
  • Entry to an engineering degree is usually with at least two A levels/three H grades and five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), or the equivalent. Candidates should check entry requirements with individual institutions. Several universities offer sandwich degrees in engineering, where students spend a year in industry during their course.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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