How to become a drainage engineer
As the title might suggest, drainage engineers specialise in water drainage systems, working to ensure that water, sewage and other materials can flow between systems as efficiently as possible. Drainage engineers usually work in homes or buildings, but the job can also involve storm water, sanitation systems or transport.
If you’re interested in learning more about what this job involves, read on for our guide on how to become a drainage engineer.
What do I need?
If you think you might want to be a drainage engineer, there are several skills that will come in handy on the job.
To start, you will need to be practical. When drainage systems fail, there could be a variety of causes behind the issue, which can include blockages or burst pipes – and it will be down to you to locate and fix the problem.
You'll also need to be adaptable and flexible, as you'll be working with a range of different tools to fix a multitude of problems.
Another requirement for this role is IT skills. Aside from the practical side of things, drainage engineers are responsible for planning drainage systems for new buildings, including excavating, laying foundations and installing pipes, so good IT skills will be key.
A drainage engineer is responsible for planning and constructing drainage systems for new buildings
Drainage engineers require good communication skills, too. You will need to be capable of assessing a situation and going through it with your client, as well as providing a clear, thorough explanation of how you plan on fixing the issue.
Where do I start?
Before you can start work as a drainage engineer, you’ll need to bear in mind the following:
Although there is no required formal qualification to embark upon a career in drainage engineering, there are qualifications that employers sometimes look for, which include an NVQ Level 2 in Plumbing and Heating and a CSCS Card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme).
There are no required formal qualifications to be a drainage engineer, but many employers will look for qualifications such as an NVQ or CSCS Card.
Drainage engineers often need to do a CCTV pipe inspection, or a CCTV drain survey, on jobs. To gain experience using CCTV, you can be trained by enrolling on a NADC-approved course. The training will teach you about drain design, common problems, how to assess and fix a drainage problem, repair techniques and more.
To develop a solid understanding of how to safely carry out your work in cramped, confined spaces, you can complete a confined space certification as well.
When you start work, you can choose to go down a commercial route or focus on residential properties, but for both paths, previous experience will be highly sought-after. Gaining experience through plumbing and drainage jobs, using high-pressure jetting equipment and obtaining your high-pressure water jetting certificate will all stand you in good stead for a role in the profession.
Gaining experience through plumbing and drainage jobs, using high-pressure jetting equipment and obtaining your high-pressure water jetting certificate will all stand you in good stead for a role in the profession.
You can also complete a New Roads and Street Works Act (NRSWA) training qualification to boost your skillset.
Underlying knowledge will come in useful for this career path, such as understanding the core principles of civil engineering. Although it is not compulsory, if you have a BSc/FdSc or MSc in Engineering, Geophysics, Geotechnology, Physics, Civil or Environmental Engineering you have a good chance of securing a job in the industry.
It is also essential that you have a full UK driving licence and have completed your Certificate of Professional Competence.
What equipment do I need?
Normally the company provides the equipment, which can be quite expensive depending on which tools are required for the job. You will need a computer to plan drainage systems for new builds and CCTV equipment to conduct full drainage surveys and identify any likelihood of future drainage problems. You may need a long, flexible drain rod to clear deep blockages, but modern engineers are more likely to use high-pressure water to remove debris.
Being a drainage engineer is a challenging and rewarding career for practical and forward-thinking individuals.
The more skills you learn, the more options you will have during your career. If you look to constantly improve your skillset and develop your knowledge, you’ll open doors to more senior positions in the profession. If you’re already an experienced drainage engineer, why not consider becoming a Local Hero?