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There ain't nothing like abroad

Sick of Britain with its floods, fuel crises and freezing winter weather? Why not broaden your horizons with an overseas posting? As a civil engineer you are better placed than most to find relevant and rewarding work in any number of exotic localities. From the urban jungles of Asia to the tropical rainforests of Central America - your profession is a valid passport to a wealth of opportunities and experiences.

What is more, employers are more likely to look favourably on engineers who have worked outside the UK. 'There's so much to be learned from living and working abroad, ' says Mike Hanna, director of staff and administration at consultant Binnie Black & Veatch. 'It always broadens a person's outlook.'

A young engineer will usually exercise more responsibility in an overseas post, Hanna adds, 'and it also strengthens his or her ability to lead'.

'It certainly adds to an engineer's portfolio of skills, ' agrees Mike Bruton, the ICE's membership and human resources director, 'and we fully support the idea of gaining quality overseas experience.' If you are concerned about your professional development while you are away from home, he adds, it is worth noting that the Institution conducts reviews in some 30 countries - from Australia to Zimbabwe.

Maunsell's international director Ed Plewa believes the experience gained from working abroad is invaluable. 'It can also be financially attractive, ' he adds, 'especially if you're working in a more aggressive environment.'

Joanne Wall (see Working Lives below) started working in Hong Kong in 1996 on an expatriate contract from Balfour Beatty.

'This included a generous provision for accommodation, ' she says, 'and a higher salary compensated for working six days a week with no overtime, away from home and family.'

Craig Covil, a British-educated civil and geotechnical engineer, has spent more than 10 years working overseas in Africa, Hong Kong and Australia, where he now works for Arup.

He believes the best career opportunities are available for those civil engineers willing to travel, but recommends getting a sound technical training - ideally an MSc - beforehand.

'Work for good companies with established names, ' he adds, 'as they have so much more to offer and have been doing it successfully for longer.'

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