Civil Engineer

Civil Engineer

About the Job

Civil engineers design, maintain, and supervise large projects and systems, including roadways, airports, tunnels, large commercial buildings, bridges, and water systems. Civil engineering is one of the most diverse fields in the construction industry.

What You’ll Do

Civil engineers normally begin projects by analyzing site plans, which are similar to maps, and other data in order to plan projects accordingly. Specifically, civil engineers take into account government regulations, environmental hazards, and risk analysis data when planning projects. They are responsible for developing the project budget and schedule for the civil engineering work, as well as for submitting all permit applications before beginning a project. Civil engineers oversee soil testing in order to determine the type and durability of any foundation that is needed.

Civil engineers use software programs in designing transportation, hydraulic, and structural systems. While designing such systems, they make sure that plans align with industry standards. Once a project is underway, they oversee all aspects, from the initial survey to the structure’s completion. Many engineers also go on to maintain and repair infrastructure.

Civil engineers occupy supervisory positions. They may work on other projects and receive assistance from civil engineering technicians. If federally employed, then civil engineers may be able to inspect structures and projects in order to make sure that the projects comply with regulations. Civil engineers work on complex projects and tend to specialize in one of several areas, including the following:

  • Construction engineers complete construction projects such as drainage systems, railways, and road systems.
  • Geotechnical engineers work with earth materials to build, for example, retaining walls and foundations.
  • Structural engineers design structural supports for bridges, space stations, stadiums, airliners, and other structures.
  • Transportation engineers design transportation systems as part of urban planning, waterways, roadways, and air transportation.

Qualities and Skills Needed

Decision-making skills
Leadership skills
Math skills
Organizational skills
Problem-solving skills
Writing skills

Education Required

The starting point for any career in civil engineering is earning a bachelor’s degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited school in Civil Engineering or a related field. Upon graduation, an engineer can pursue licensing, the Professional Engineer (PE) designation, or continue on to Master’s or Doctorate degrees.

Licensing is required for anyone that works in the public sphere such as designing bridges, roadways and public places. Licensing varies from state-to-state and often requires several years of practice and successfully passing state licensing examinations. To become a Professional Engineer, a graduate must first pass the Fundamentals of Engineering examination and become an Engineer-In-Training (EIT). EIT’s typically work for a minimum of 5 years under supervision of a licensed or Professional Engineer and then must pass the Professional Engineers examination. Licensures and designations must be maintained with continuing education throughout one’s career. About one in five graduates go on to earn Master’s or advanced degrees.

Licenses, designations and advanced degrees are not required to have a long and successful career; however, these are the most highly recognized pathways to promotions, leading projects and increasing responsibilities.

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The average starting salary is $59,334. With experience, they can possibly earn up to or over $102,242.