Civil engineers essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $79,340
- 2012, number of jobs: 258,100
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 19 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Civil engineers; what they do:
Civil engineers spend much of their time indoors behind a desk, but their work shows up everywhere in the communities around them. All of the streets, structures, airports, bridges, dams, tunnels, and water and sewage plants comprising a town or city’s infrastructure started with a design created by civil engineers.
A civil engineer career includes visiting construction sites at times to monitor work progress and ensure the project conforms to design specifications and safety standards. A civil engineering career can also include directing or participating in land surveys to lay out installations or determine reference points, grades or elevations to guide the project.
A civil engineering career also involves preparing and presenting reports to the public regarding bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements or right-of-way descriptions.
Civil engineers job duties:
- Advising industrial and managerial staffs on design, construction, or program modifications and structural repairs.
- Estimating materials, equipment and labor costs to determine a project’s feasibility.
- Testing soils or site materials to determine the strength of foundations, concrete, asphalt or steel.
- Determining design specifications by computing load and grade requirements, water flow rates or material stress factors.
- Directing staff and construction, operations or maintenance crews.
- Planning projects by analyzing survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photos and other topographical or geologic data.
- Designing transportation or hydraulic systems and structures.
Civil engineers job titles:
- City engineer
- Research hydraulic engineer
- Civil project engineer
- Project engineer
- Design engineer
- Construction engineer
- Structural engineer
- Railroad design consultant
- Civil engineering manager
Civil Engineers Education, Certification and License Requirements
People seeking a civil engineer career typically need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or one of its specialties from an accredited program.
Civil engineering programs include classroom, lab and field work. Some schools provide an Associate in Civil Engineering Technology degree or a Master in Civil Engineering degree.
A civil engineer needs a license to have direct control of a project and supervise other civil engineering staff.
Licensing requires passing grades on the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination, meeting other state requirements, and serving as a civil engineering intern or engineer-in-training. To qualify as a civil engineering professional, candidates must also have experience and pass more exams.
Civil engineers programs cover subjects such as:
- Civil engineering theory and applications
- Materials analysis
- Professional ethics
- Fluid mechanics
- Project design and management
- Environmental impacts
- Sustainable design
Career Advancement Opportunities
About 20 percent of civil engineers have a master’s degree. Post-graduate work can help a civil engineer get a job as a manager.
Civil Engineers Job Outlook
Forecast: 19 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for civil engineer jobs. The growth results from the increasing need to rebuild, maintain and update roads, bridges, dams and levees. Those in civil engineering will also find increased work because of the need to control the loss of potable water as the population increases. More wastewater treatment plants are required to keep the country’s waterways clean.
Civil Engineers Salary
- 2011 median annual wage: $79,340
- 2011, workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $100,330
- 2011, workers at the 25% percentile annual wage: $63,030
Civil Engineers Major Employers
- Architectural, engineering and related services
- State and local government
- Non-residential building construction
- Federal executive branch