Bridge Engineer

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James B

00:00:04 My name’s James B, I’m a Bridge Engineer. Essentially I’m involved in the design and construction of bridges. Small bridges, big bridges, renovation of bridges, bridges of all sorts.

00:00:19 I grew up in the Bristol area, and one of the features of Bristol – one of the local heroes – is Isambard Kingdom Brunel. And I’ve sort of adopted him as a hero, if I could. And the Clifton Suspension Bridge has always interested me, right from a young age. I remember my grandfather taking me across the bridge, and telling me stories about it. And as a result I think that’s probably where my interest started. I liked the idea of a bridge being something that was tangible, something you could point to, and demonstrate – this is what I did, you know, and show off. But also you can see that it’s something that clearly helps a community, you know, people want a bridge, generally. And I find that was quite appealing. Also there’s the kudos that goes with a bridge, you know, they are what I would call the icing on engineering. Although I’m sure some will disagree.

00:01:16 I’d have to say I have an affinity with one particular bridge, and that’s the Second Severn Crossing, which is behind us. And that was the first bridge that I worked on. I came straight out of University, and straight onto the bridge. Which was one of the most technologically challenging bridges in the country at the time, and as a graduate engineer it was fantastically stimulating, it was great to get straight into the big – big project.

00:01:46 Based on the back of that experience, I was given the opportunity to go to site for four years, and see the construction of a similar project up in Chester. And to see a bridge being constructed from the ground level all the way up, is amazing. Then from then I was given the opportunity to go to Hong Kong for three – three and a half years. Which of course I took, straightaway. So on the back of those projects, you know, the foundation of engineering was quite good, the technical skills I picked up were quite good. And then I came back to the UK, and started working with my current company, and through that I’ve started to pick up a bit more management skills as well, some project management, and then team management.

00:02:28 There are several turning points, and some of them are significant milestones, others perhaps on hindsight you realise how significant they were. Things like my grandfather taking me to view the bridges. They seemed small at the time, and they were a jolly day out, but looking back, they were significant, and you can see how they started sowing the seeds. My parents have been fairly good role models, and they guided me in the career, or assisted me, in the careers process. I think the most significant turning point in my life has to be becoming a father, because your whole life changes. (LAUGHS) And that’s why we came back from Hong Kong, that’s why we’ve – I’ve changed my job. So yes, some are big points, some are small points.

00:03:28 Yeah, career progression’s an interesting topic, ‘cause it changes daily as the opportunities arise. And – all I can say is really as opportunities appear, if they’re appropriate, take them. And that’s going to be my – my attitude. I’d like to see myself progressing further up the management side of things, building – building on the experiences I’ve got so far. I’d like also to spend a bit more time overseas, hopefully combining the two.

00:03:57 ENDS


James B is a Bridge Engineer for Halcrow. When he was young he lived near the Brunel’s Clifton ridge and his first job was the second Severn Bridge. He says “Bridges are the icing of engineering” and “it’s something that clearly helps a community, you know, people want a bridge, generally”. He likes to travel with his work.

More information about Building and civil engineering technicians

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

86%  male 
14%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Building and civil engineering technicians perform a variety of technical support functions to assist civil and building engineers.
Entrants usually possess a relevant BTEC/SQA award or an Advanced GNVQ/GSVQ Level III. The status of engineering technician is obtained after a period of further training at work and upon gaining the membership of a professional engineering institution.
  • Sets up apparatus and equipment and undertakes field and laboratory tests of soil and work materials;
  • Performs calculations and collects, records and interprets data;
  • Sets out construction site, supervises excavations and marks out position of building work to be undertaken;
  • Inspects construction materials and supervises work of contractors to ensure compliance with specifications and arranges remedial work as necessary.
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Civil engineering 4499
Construction 4152
Specialised construction 2955
Architectural & related 2371
Retail trade 1049
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