Civil engineers need more money to make their work as safe and efficient as possible, the Royal Society for Engineering and Technology (RSET) said.
The group said civil engineers had long complained of being unfairly treated by government agencies.
The civil engineering industry has been in a state of disrepair since the mid-1970s, with the closure of more than 2,000 civil engineering colleges in the past decade, according to the Royal Engineering Society.
The RSE said the UK has one of the lowest rates of civil engineering graduates in Europe.
The average rate is around 4.8% but that is a drop from an average of 13% in the mid 1990s, according a survey published last year.RSE director Sir Tim Clark said the government should make a priority of making civil engineers paid higher salaries, so that they were not only able to undertake more complex tasks but also work in safer environments.
“We know that civil engineers have been in the public eye for a long time, and they’re often the ones who are put on the frontline,” he said.
“They are responsible for our roads and our airports and our railways and our ports.
We should pay them more and give them the opportunities that they need to do their job safely and effectively.”
The government says it is looking at a range of ways to boost civil engineering salaries, including making civil engineering more accessible.
But civil engineers say the government’s current policy will not improve their situation.
“This is not going to help me to get a job as a civil engineer, and it won’t help me achieve my career ambitions as a Civil Engineer,” said Martin Boulton, who is currently on the British Civil Engineers’ Union’s national recruitment drive.
“It is the government which has been trying to put in place this policy for the past 15 years and there has been absolutely no change,” he told the BBC.
Civil engineers are paid on the basis of their skill level.
They earn £35,000-£50,000 a year.
But they are not eligible for severance pay.
Instead, they receive a “compensation allowance” which is paid into a company pension fund and paid out of government coffers.
The allowance is based on the number of years of service a civil engineering job has had, as well as the length of the job.
It also depends on how well a civil engineers’ qualifications have gone.
The Civil Engineers Union said the amount of money that civil engineering professionals were paid in the last year was £16bn.
It said that would not be enough to compensate the millions of workers in civil engineering, who are underpaid and under-employed.
“The Civil Engineering Pay Commission, which has worked closely with civil engineers since 2012, has identified that we have a shortage of qualified civil engineers, and the pay is not being paid fairly to civil engineers,” the union said.