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Civil Engineer: Career Profile, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Research what it takes to become a civil engineer. Learn about job duties, licensure, career outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is a Civil Engineer?

Civil engineers design roads, bridges, drain systems and other infrastructure. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required to get into this field. Civil engineers begin planning for projects by inspecting survey reports, maps, and data. They also consider construction costs, regulations and environmental hazards. They then must obtain the proper permits and test materials for their projects.

Civil engineers may need to take soil samples and provide clients with cost estimates that include materials, labor and equipment. These professionals are trained in design software used to plan and design the projects. They often present their work to the public, oversee the surveying process and manage the repair and maintenance of their projects. Explore other key details of this career with the following table:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree; master's degree for advancement
Education Field of Study Civil engineering, civil engineering technology
Key Skills Math, problem-solving, attention to detail, leadership
Licensure Licensure is required if selling services to the public
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% *
Average Salary (2018) $93,720*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is My Career Profile as a Civil Engineer?

You may use your civil engineering expertise to design roads and railways, channels, sewage systems, bridges, tunnels, power plants and other structures essential to a city's infrastructure. You can make use of computer-aided design software to investigate how problems, like pollution, severe weather, energy shortages, heavy traffic, budget restrictions and urban development can impact a project. Civil engineers may also supervise construction, conduct research or teach at universities. You can also choose to specialize in civil engineering fields, such as environmental, structural or transportation engineering.

What Is My Occupational Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted an 6% increase in civil engineering for the 2018-2028 decade (www.bls.gov). This favorable job growth for this profession is due to general population growth and the need for improvements to aging infrastructure. Job prospects can vary by region. Architectural, construction and engineering firms may cut projects short due to budget constraints, which could further limit job prospects. The BLS reported the mean yearly wage for civil engineers as $93,720 as of May 2018.

What Are My Education Prerequisites?

You can complete a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree program to be eligible for entry-level jobs in your field. These programs often entail two years of study in science, mathematics and general engineering courses, followed by another two years focusing on civil engineering. If you wish to teach civil engineering, then you are required to first obtain a Ph.D. in Engineering.

Since your civil engineering work serves the public, obtaining a professional engineering (PE) license is mandatory for your profession. Your first step towards earning your PE license involves passing a Fundamentals of Engineering Exam. After gaining four years of professional experience as a junior engineer, you can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam to gain PE status.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Two related careers that require at least a bachelor's degree are construction managers and mechanical engineers. Construction managers oversee a construction project from the beginning to the end. Mechanical engineers design and build mechanical devices, including tools and engines. An urban and regional planner is another related career, but requires a master's degree. These professionals develop plans and projects to revitalize communities and accommodate the growing population.