Civil engineers design things such as roads, buildings, tunnels, bridges, or water and sewer systems. Civil engineering projects are complicated as engineers must take several factors into consideration such as city laws, construction standards, government regulations, the lifetime expectancy of the structure or system, and the budget. Civil engineering is one of the oldest engineering disciplines and has evolved into many specialties because of the diversity of the discipline. Civil engineering specialties include:
- Structural Engineering
- Water Resource Engineering
- Construction Engineering
- Transportation Engineering
- Geotechnical Engineering
Civil engineers with 7-10 years experience or more often hold supervisory positions for private companies or government agencies. Other civil engineers may work in the design, research, and academic fields.
Most civil engineers work in an offices, laboratories, and plants. Some split their time between the office and the construction site where the current project is taking place. Most work a standard 40 hour work week Monday – Friday. Sometimes they are required to work extra to meet deadlines or mitigate problems should issues arise on the job.
Civil engineers typically must possess at least a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from an accredited institution. Engineers who provide services to the public must be licensed. Some high level jobs require a master’s degree in civil engineering.
Students who have a desire to pursue civil engineering should be prepared to take a heavy load of math and science courses every year of their college career. To prepare for the major students should take courses in calculus, liner algebra, differential equations, and statistics. Students should also have a string background in chemistry, physics, and biology. Common majors within the major include:
- Engineering and Economics
- Environmental Impacts
- Construction Management
- Project Management
- Structural Analysis and Design
Engineering positions are expected to grow 24% from 2008-2018 which is over twice as fast as the average occupation. The job outlook has been affected as capital projects have slowed due to organizations cutting back on building projects but is expected to surge as the country is expected to spend large amounts of money improving the nation’s infrastructure.
Foreign competition for U.S. civil engineering jobs has caused domestic employment to be lower due to the fact that many foreign engineers who speak English are willing to work for much lower salaries than their domestic counterparts but should have minimal impact.
The median salary for a civil engineer is $72,000 per year. The average starting wage for a civil engineer with a bachelor’s degree is $52,000. Overall, engineers earn some of the highest salaries of those who have bachelor’s degrees only. The highest 10% of civil engineers earn over $125,000 while the lowest 10% earn $48,000. All numbers are calculated by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.