already a member?   login »
username password

Guide for Water engineers going to the UK





Engineers and technicians get a free copy of "Cracking the UK Job Market" when you register with agencies or apply to jobs





Introduction — What you need to know and why

Looking to take the next big step in your career? 

This page is designed to provide qualified engineers with clean water and wastewater experience all the actionable advice they need to successfully continue their careers in Britain.

The information below will tell you everything you need to know:

  • where you will find jobs in the water industry
  • what sorts of projects you will work on
  • how much money you can earn and
  • any technical specifications that you should be aware of.

Where are jobs for located?

While engineering positions are available all across Britain, due to the distibution of popualtion the greatest number of jobs exist in the South East of England - mainly London.

Consulting engineering jobs may be found in such locations as:

  • Central London
  • Greater London (just outside the M25)
  • Brighton
  • Reading
  • Crawley
  • Kent
  • Surrey
  • Edinburgh
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Portsmouth
  • Southampton
  • Exeter
  • Merseyside

Tip: If you have a preference for a particular part of England, make your plans clear to the recruitment consultants you are dealing with. 


As part of UK being part of the EU the Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the most substantial element of water legislation. The Water Framework Directive requires all inland and coastal waters to reach ‘good chemical and ecological status’ for surface waters and ‘good status’ for groundwater in terms of quality and quantity by 2015. In December 2015, the 2021 Water Framework Directive is due for release.

As a result positions in the water industry have been abundant and particularly for qualified and experienced engineers. In addition to this, the replacement and maintenance of an impressive nework of infrastructure has traditionally always ensured waters engineers find great opportunites.

Don't miss our engineering video


The scope of projects is impressive in terms of both size and diversity.

Engineers are required for any projects involving the management of water. Working in the water industry, you may be required to perform any number of the following tasks:

  • Asset management
  • Network maintenance
  • Network design modelling
  • Project management (inc. water tunnel engineering)


Water engineers with 3 or more years experience may find work. Specialist experience in water modeling is very helpful to gaining contract employment quickly. For those coming from overseas, the key is to ensure you get apply to agencies and jobs before you arrive to get the best chance at securing somwthing suitable.

As your level of experience increases so to will your prospects. with 3 - 6+ years experience will find a greater range of opportunities available to them in both contract and permanent positions.

Recruitment agencies don't normally represent graduate engineers. Graduates wishing to move to the UK should directly apply for a graduate position with a UK-based consultancy or water company. (Holding an EU passport is also required to be considered) Depending on your experience, in slower economies we also advise direct applications to consultancies who may be looking to fill permanent roles.


Recruitment agencies play a critical role in employment. A recruitment agency's business is built on its ability to provide quality candidates for employers while simultaneously facilitating the candidate's development and career progression. In times of slower economies however, many job posts can tend to become permanent positions and you are encouraged to apply directly to companies themeselves in addition to agencies.

To find your perfect job:

  • Register with recruitment agencies up to 2 years before you arrive. In order to find the best job, recruitment agencies will contact you for further discussions before submitting your CV to potential employers.
  • Begin applying for jobs about three months before you arrive. If you register with an agency, your recruitment consultant will begin the process of arranging interviews around 3 months before your arrival.
  • If your travel plans or arrival date changes, make sure you inform your recruitment consultant immediately.
  • Be sure to include any Modelling experience or other software experience you may have.

What types of positions are available?

Engineering positions generally follow this hierarchy:

  • Assistant 
  • Senior 
  • Principal 

Alternatively, a engineer may work exclusively as a:

  • Modeller
  • Design Engineer
  • Project Manager

In Britain, engineering work is almost usually for private consultancies or one of the large water companies, on either a contract or permanent basis. 

What are the earnings?

Jobs in the water industry are well payed. As always, however, your earning power will correspond to your experience and new arrivals to the UK should not expect to earn premium rates immediately.

The following tables provide a rough guide for the potential earnings for a water engineer:

Grade Experience (yrs) Salary Range £/hr (Contract) Salary range p/a (Permanent*)
Assistant engineer 1-4 £15-23 £21-24K
Engineer / Senior Engineer 4-8 £20-26 £25-37K
Principal engineer 8+ £26-35 £37K ++


Title Salary Range p/hr (Contract) Salary Range p/a (Permanent)
Modeller £20-30 Up to £35K
Design engineer £15-35 Up to £38K
Lead project manager £25-40 Up to £55K

The earnings you receive may be affected by a number of factors, such as:

  • the particular project experience you posses
  • the size and financial strength of the company
  • the urgency of a company to have a project completed
  • the location in which you work.

Working as a water engineer

Software and applications

To work as a engineer it is advantageous to be experienced in the use of water industry-specific software. Fortunately this does not mean that you must have experience with UK-specific software because training or transition is usually offered (particularly in permanent roles).

Your qualifications in the UK

An appropriate engineering degree or diploma from an approved tertiary institution will usually be recognised. Make sure you remember to bring a copy of your degree certificate with you.

Membership of a professional institution is not a prerequisite for engineers in the UK. Holding a Masters of Science may be advantageous, though this is not required.

Important information for your CV

Be sure your CV includes a list of the projects you have worked on, including specific details of the scope of the projects and your responsibilities on these projects.

Information such as project value, type of project and a basic description of the work required will ensure that the full depth of your experience is communicated to recruitment consultants and potential employers.

Be sure to list your experience in reverse-chronological order (i.e. most recent experience first). Use lists and bullet points in order to enable the reader to quickly scan and understand your experience and abilities.


Mar 2006 — Present Company Name, Country
Graduate Water Engineer
  • Providing water and wastewater services to numerous regional and rural communities with a total population of 106,000 customers across 49 towns and cities
  • Project Engineer — Asset Services (Budget £25M per annum)
  • Use numerical data to create a database and validation report for Flood Planning levels
Software: Sewer Hydraulic Modeling Software (Intermediate), Microsoft Access (Advanced), AutoCAD (Intermediate)
Go to top of page UK Jobs / UK Job Industries / Water Engineering Jobs