Civil Engineering Career

Civil Engineering is one of the oldest disciplines in the field of engineering science and its name has been given to distinguish itself from military engineering. Civil Engineering concerns the design, construction and maintenance of works such as roads, buildings, canals, dams and bridges to name a few. It is the second largest engineering discipline after military engineering.

Civil Engineering education first started in the year 1819 in United States by the Norwich Industry founded by Captain Alden Partridge.

In the government sector civil engineering is carried out through the municipal and in the private sector through international companies.

Civil Engineers are found in various industries and are particularly not confined to a select industry. They can be found in aerospace industry, in the automotive industry, ship building industry, the power industry etc. where construction of any kind is concerned.

Following are the sub disciplines in civil engineering:

  • Architectural Engineering
  • Coastal Engineering
  • Construction Surveying
  • Control Engineering
  • Earthquake Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Facade Engineering
  • Forensic Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Municipal Or Urban Engineering
  • Offshore Engineering
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Structural Engineering
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Waste Water Engineering
  • Water Resources Engineering

How to become a civil engineer?

Civil Engineering is a vast field of engineering science with a number of specialties. In order to qualify for a civil engineering education the candidate should have a strong background in math and science. The candidate must have physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science and/or biology in high school. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the standard Board for accredited engineering institutions. Interested candidates can choose their institutions from this Board.

The Civil Engineering Degree Program is a four year course during which students can take up various subjects ranging from surveying, physics, chemistry, statistics, ethics, mechanics, mathematics and design. Lastly, a Professional Engineer (PE) license has to be earned by the civil engineers after their successful completion of the engineering degree course from an ABET recognized institute. Two exams are to be cleared in order to get the PE License:

  • The Fundamentals of Engineering exam
  • The Principles and Practice of Engineering

Top 10 Civil Engineering program offering schools in USA

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02139-4307

University of California-Berkeley
200 California Hall, Berkeley, CA, 94720

Stanford University
Stanford, CA, 94305

The University of Texas at Austin
2400 Inner Campus Drive, Austin, TX, 78712

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
601 E John Street, Champaign, IL, 61820-5711

Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
225 North Ave, Atlanta, GA, 30332-0530

Purdue University-Main Campus
Hovde Hall of Administration, West Lafayette, IN, 47907-2040

Texas A & M University-Kingsville
955 University Blvd, Kingsville, TX, 78363

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
503 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI, 48109

University of California-Los Angeles
405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1405

Work of a Civil Engineer

Civil Engineers are mainly concerned with the design and planning of large infrastructure projects such as airports, roadways etc. They have to determine the cost effectiveness of a project and must also ensure about the safety issues. They work with the surveyors, construction managers, and civil engineering technicians to implement various steps in a project.

Civil Engineers may generally hold supervisory or administrative positions within a government or private sector. Civil Engineers have to communicate with other professionals such as architects, landscape architects, urban and regional planners in their daily course of work.

Typically a civil engineer is corned with the following tasks:

  • Civil Engineers main job is to plan projects. They analyze and survey reports, maps and other essential data which helps in the planning of projects.
  • Assessing the construction costs in a project.
  • Determining the potential health hazards and other factors involved in the planning of the project.
  • Testing of the soil for a proper foundation.
  • Building materials such as concrete, asphalt, steel are tested by civil engineers before their usage in a project.
  • Determine a project’s economic feasibility by determining the material cost, equipment cost and labor cost.
  • Use design software to design and plan hydraulics systems, transportation systems and various other engineering structures.
  • To work on bid proposals, environmental impact statements and property descriptions which have to be shared with the public.

Civil Engineer Work Environment

As in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), civil engineers hold more than 272,900 in the U.S. economy which has been projected to increase in the coming years. A 20 percent job increase has been estimated in between 2012 to 2022. Civil engineer’s profession is a full time profession with some professionals working more than 40 hours per week.

The percentage of Civil Engineers working in various industries in the U.S. Economy as of 2012 are as follows:

Sector Percentage (%)
Architectural engineering 50
State government 13
Local government 11
Non residential construction 5
Federal government 4


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013, the average salary for a civil engineer has been estimated to be $80,770. The industries of oil and gas extraction have the highest paid civil engineering professionals in the U.S. economy. The highest 10 percent earned $126,190 and the lowest 10 percent earned $51,810 as in 2013. Civil engineers earn almost at par with the mechanical engineers but earn less than the software developers and computer professionals.

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