14 things that piss off Civil Engineers!


With the construction sector thriving, there has never been a better time to be an engineer in Ireland. There are a multitude of fantastic companies to work for all over the country, on some of the highest profile projects in Europe. Engineers have certainly got it good now, but there is always room for improvement, right?


Every day we speak to Engineers in Ireland and across the world, who are working for both big and small contractors, developers and consultancies and although they are very grateful for the roles they are in, there are always a few gripes along the way… just a few.

As part of the construction industry, we here at Breagh Recruitment want to make it better, so over the last number of weeks we have asked engineer’s, “What really pisses you off in your role?”


Have a look at our “14 Things That Piss Off Civil Engineers” and let us know if you have any solutions.


1. The overarching dilemma: working hours VS. salary


The average site working hours in Ireland are mostly from 8am – 6pm. But, with the mixture of work load and traffic in bigger cities, it leaves your day as more of a 7am to 6.30pm job.

As engineers, you understand that you’re going to have to carry out some sort of travel, maybe stay away from home throughout the week and put in the extra hours when needed - it comes with the job – but, with most projects located in Dublin, an increase in development in other parts of Ireland could lead to more sustainable, enjoyable careers across the Island of Ireland. 

But without creating new projects, how can we better incentivise employees?

  • Be transparent, let them know what’s happening and allow them to give feedback.
  • How many companies offer over time or Saturday incentives?
  • Have an open door policy, even if you don’t have a door.
  • Show them the bigger picture, how will this job help society, and them.
  • Share positive feedback – everyone wants to be fulfilled by their work, so let us know when we’ve made an impact.



2. Communication is sh*t! There’s a lack of communication on site


Our research found that engineers feel there is a lack of understanding between site engineers and site agents/project managers.

A lack of understanding on the site leads to unrealistic deadlines and a lack of patience in many cases which in turn leads to an increase in mistakes, especially with graduate site engineers.



3. “Please sir, I want to learn more!”: There’s no training for Graduate Engineers


The feeling out there amongst engineers is that there is not enough emphasis placed on training new talent to the industry. This can also cause mistakes on site.

Many engineers fresh out of college don’t get the initial training they need, and so they don’t fully understand the surveying/setting out equipment for example, what it takes to function and its capabilities.

One experienced engineer told us:

“There is a big difference between recording points and marking out piles, columns, foundations etc. We need to focus mainly on reducing mistakes in site engineering as they are too common and have a huge impact on the end product.”

We need to place more focus on the training and professional development of our fresh, new graduates so that they can learn and feel prepared on site from the get-go.



4. We don’t all get along with our work colleagues, and from what we’re hearing, this is no different when it comes to Engineers and Foremen


It ain’t too great when the Foreman (some who we’ve been fondly told “can’t organise a piss up in a brewery”) gives about an hour notice when they want something set out that hasn’t even been scheduled.

Engineers and Foremen need to work together on site. This means better communication, planning and scheduling of what needs to be done and by when. This way, everyone’s singing the same tune and productivity on site will improve overall.



5. Adopting the Australian model could be a real stressbuster


In Ireland, the Site Engineer holds responsibility for setting out, which is all part of their role. But in Australia, it’s the surveyor who does all the setting out, allowing the Site Engineer to focus on looking after the commercial aspects of the job. This means engineers can share the workload, things are a bit more organised, and everyone feels that little bit less stressed as a result. Win, win.

Engineers in Ireland believe we should try and adopt a similar model – the biggest issue is that we need a lot more engineers to achieve this!



6. Outdated survey equipment slows engineers down, big time


It’s always the way isn’t it, wanting what you can’t have. But it’s so hard to believe that there are moments in modern-day engineering when engineers cannot get the one piece of equipment that they need.

How can engineers today be expected to perform modern tasks with outdated surveying equipment?

If things are feeling sluggish and outdated, it’s time to invest in new popular Topcon or Leica Systems to reduce any frustrations and to boost efficiencies. Some companies might just not want to spend the money on new expensive equipment, but the long-term benefits that they will reap really will pay off in the long run. Someone just needs to explain that to the guys at the top.



7. Ignoring the rumbling tummy, there’s no time for lunch


There is real focus nowadays on work, being productive and getting things done. Sometimes the work-life balance can get knocked askew. This often means sacrificing that cup of soup at lunch time. 

So many engineers out there do not take their full break entitlements. A lot will eat at their desks without really stopping at all because, with their heavy workload, they feel they have no option.

Well, listen up. Taking a break is brilliant for your own mental health and can make you much more productive overall during the working day. So, take the 45 minutes you need (and are entitled to, ahem!), come back with a fresh head full of positivity and ideas. And a nice warm belly full of vegetable broth.



8. There aren’t enough hours in the day to become a chartered Civil Engineer


Engineers Ireland require a masters for chartership (although this may be changing soon). If engineers have busy lives with young families and long working hours on site, it can seem impossible to find the time to fit in a masters.

The real question is, is becoming chartered worth the effort? Whilst it does depend on the employer and the sector, there are improved career prospects and there is a higher earning potential as it shows evidence of your expertise and commitment. So, if you’ve got the time, you’ve got nothing to lose! (Except for maybe your social life).   


9. The world has enough Project Managers!


Being an engineer is seen as a starting platform, so the only way is up. The ultimate goal nowadays seems to be a project manager, and you need to build for that.

Whatever happened to having good quality senior engineers?


10. CIF Holidays don’t suit everyone


Some contractors only offer availability to holidays in line with the CIF holidays, which doesn’t always suit around people’s lives.

On top of that, all engineers must work some Saturdays, for example for an urgent concrete pour. However, engineers are on a salary, so is working every Saturday essential, and is it fair?



11. Ireland NEEDS more Engineers, pretty please!


Engineers feel they are put under significant pressure due to the lack of resources and competent engineers in the industry currently. 

This could be down to a lack of available resources or the fact that some companies are just not willing to employee the appropriate staff.

Either way, we need more skilled engineers in Ireland, pronto.



12. The dangerous "ah sure look it will be grand" attitude


There is seriously no job, task or deadline worth the risk.

Colleagues who progress with work knowing that what they are doing is unsafe is dangerous and frankly, unprofessional.

This really winds engineers up. It should go without saying, if you have a job to do, do it right and cut no corners along the way.



13. The good oul’ “Don’t listen to them, they’re only the Engineer, what do they know.”


At some point, every engineer comes across the non-technical operatives who think that they know best. They won’t deliver on a technically specific design because they’ve tried to cut corners, and eventually you’ll have to go back and tell someone that the work needs to be re-done.

This is a waste of time, money and effort and illustrates a serious lack of respect to the profession, employer, designer and everyone else impacted. It’s nice to be humble and all, but don’t be afraid to tell them that as the Engineer, you know best when it comes to the technical design of things!



14. The struggle to keep. it. clean.


Clean site, happy engineers, apparently. There is no reason not to have a clean tidy site.

It’s important there is no rubbish or trip hazards and that everything is kept neat and tidy so that we can all take pride in our work, properly.



We’re well aware that reading this may have pissed you off all over again. Just try to remember that you love your job as a Civil Engineer because the hard work does pay off in the end. But also keep in mind that no job in the whole world is worth foregoing that delicious veggie soup at lunch.




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