Civil engineers plan, design and oversee the construction of highways, bridges, water treatment systems and other types of structures. Some civil engineers are involved in community planning and urban renewal. Many civil engineers have supervisory or administrative positions. Some civil engineers are involved with research, design, construction or teaching.
Some common job titles include project engineer, structural engineer, railroad design consultant, design engineer, research hydraulic engineer and city engineer.
Most civil engineers specialize in one area. Some of the primary specializations are construction, structural, sanitary, hydraulics, soil mechanics, transportation and environmental.
Construction engineers oversee the projects they design. They also determine the best methods and materials to build structures.
Structural engineers ensure that structures are built efficiently and safely. They collaborate with architects to design bridges, tunnels and large buildings.
Sanitary engineers design systems that treat waste and purify water. These systems provide a safe and economical supply of water. They collaborate with environmental engineers to control air and water pollution.
Civil engineers that are involved with hydraulics, design irrigation systems, flood control systems and canals. They develop ways of using water that will benefit communities.
Civil engineers that specialize in soil mechanics create ways to utilize soil to improve building foundations.
Transportation engineers plan subways, highways, railroads and airports.
Environmental engineers are involved with controlling water and air pollution.
- Consider the construction costs and expected lifetime of a project
- Consider government regulations
- Be aware of potential environmental hazards
- Oversee construction and maintenance activities at project sites
- Give technical advice regarding design, construction, structural repairs or program modifications to managerial and industrial personnel
- Inspect project sites to ensure conformance to safety and design specifications and to monitor progress
- Prepare or present public reports regarding topics including deeds, environmental impact statements, bid proposals and property and right-of-way descriptions
- Estimate cost and quantities of materials, and labor and equipment in order to determine the feasibility of a project
- Evaluate maps, drawings, survey reports, aerial photography and other geological or topographical data for planning projects
Civil engineers often work with architects, other engineers and construction workers. They should be detailed oriented and have good written and oral communication skills. A strong aptitude for the physical sciences and mathematics is important for the occupation.
The employment growth for civil engineers has been projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to be 24 percent from 2008 to 2018 which is much faster than average for all occupations. General population growth and the need to improve the country's infrastructure should increase the demand for civil engineers.
In 2008 the median annual earnings for civil engineers was $74,600. The highest paid 10 percent earned $115,630.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
A bachelor's degree in civil engineering is usually necessary to enter the occupation. Important classes include fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, structural design, stress analysis and circuitry. Some colleges provide cooperative programs that provide classroom learning and work experience. A graduate degree is typically required for those that want a career in research, development or teaching.
The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology provides accreditation for college and university engineering programs. In addition, professional certification can be beneficial for finding a job.
Every state requires licensure for engineers that offer their services directly to the public. Licensure typically requires a degree from an ABET accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience and passing a state examination.
The top employment sectors are architectural, engineering and related services; construction industries, local government, state government, nonresidential building construction, and colleges, universities and professional schools.
Schools for Civil Engineers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.