InTrans / Jan 11, 2012

Civil engineering

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Highway workersposted on January 11, 2012

Civil engineers design, build, and monitor a broad range of construction projects, such as bridges, roads, water and sewage systems, airports, etc. A civil engineer’s job depends on their industry and qualifications, but may include administrating, supervising, constructing, devising, composing, researching, or teaching. Civil engineers are essential to the construction industry, and they are responsible for considering a variety of factors, such as costs and regulations, during each project. Part of the job may involve traveling to different construction sites. Other fields of specialization in civil engineering include transportation, water resources, and geotechnology.

Career opportunities

Employment of civil engineers is projected to grow by 24 percent between 2008-2018, faster than the average for all occupations. This is because of population growth, as well as the ongoing need to repair, maintain, and expand existing infrastructure. The average salary for a civil engineer is $82,280.


  • A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required, usually with a major in civil engineering, for an entry-level job. Examples of courses under the bachelor’s in civil engineering include thermodynamics, engineering economics, environmental awareness, fluid mechanics, geology, strength of materials, and structural analysis and design.
  • Students also may pursue a 2-year and 4-year program in engineering technology. These programs provide hands-on training and practical application of engineering principles. Students in engineering technology can apply for the same types of jobs as those who earn engineering degrees, but the requirements for obtaining a professional engineering license are different. (More details below.)
  • Those who have a degree in mathematics or the sciences sometimes get engineering jobs, depending on the demand for engineers in a particular field.
  • For research or faculty positions, a graduate degree is required. Graduate studies may also be required for management positions.
    At any level, continuous education will help keep civil engineers up-to-date with recent technologies, and it is required for relicensure in some states.

Schools with civil engineering programs

Engineering programs are offered by several public and private universities, including Iowa State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology – School of Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology – College of Engineering, the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, and Missouri University of Science and Technology. Some community colleges also offer programs in civil engineering technology; among these schools are Lakeland Community College and Erie Community College.

Licensure requirements

Civil engineers need to be licensed if they want to provide service directly to the public. A professional engineer (PE) license is required by all the 50 states and District of Columbia. The requirements for obtaining the license include

  • A degree from an ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)-accredited engineering program
  • 4 years of relevant experience
  • A state exam taken in two stages: first, engineers take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam just before or as soon as they finish their bachelor’s degree. Later, after a few years of relevant experience, they take the second exam on Principles and Practice of Engineering.

One state’s license is valid in another state if the requirements of the previous state meet or exceed those of the other state. Some professional organizations also offer certificate programs (which are not connected with state licensure) to recognize competencies in a particular engineering field.


Civil Engineer. In CollegeBoard: Majors and Careers:

Engineers. In Occupational Outlook Handbook (Ed. 2010-11). Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Civil Engineer. In Occupational Outlook Handbook (Ed. 2010-11). Bureau of Labor Statistics:

By Rebecca Lee, Go! Staff Writer

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