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Become A Civil Designer

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Working As A Civil Designer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • $73,324

    Average Salary

What Does A Civil Designer Do

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment. Many civil engineers work in design, construction, research, and education.

Duties

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze long range plans, survey reports, maps, and other data in order to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning the stages of, and risk analysis for, a project
  • Compile and submit permit applications to local, state, and federal agencies, verifying that projects comply with various regulations
  • Perform or oversee soil testing to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project’s economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Perform or oversee surveying operations in order to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or descriptions of property
  • Manage the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public and private infrastructure

Civil engineers inspect projects to insure regulatory compliance. In addition, they are tasked with ensuring that safe work practices are followed at construction sites.

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer, public works director, and city manager. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. Civil engineers work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians.

Civil engineers prepare permit documents for work on projects in renewable energy. They verify that the projects will comply with federal, state, and local requirements. With regard to solar energy, these engineers conduct structural analyses for large-scale photovoltaic projects. They also evaluate the ability of solar array support structures and buildings to tolerate stresses from wind, seismic activity, and other sources. For large-scale wind projects, civil engineers often prepare roadbeds to handle large trucks that haul in the turbines. In addition, they prepare the sites on the shore or offshore to make sure that the foundations for the turbines will safely keep them upright in expected environmental conditions.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Construction engineers manage construction projects, ensuring that they are scheduled and built in accordance with plans and specifications. These engineers typically are responsible for the design and safety of temporary structures used during construction.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). In addition, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as buildings, bridges, or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan, design, operate, and maintain everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ship ports, mass transit systems, and harbors.

The work of civil engineers is closely related to the work of environmental engineers.

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How To Become A Civil Designer

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree. They typically need a graduate degree and licensure for promotion to senior positions. Although licensure requirements vary within the United States, civil engineers usually must be licensed in the locations where they provide services directly to the public.

Education

Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in one of its specialties, or in civil engineering technology. Programs in civil engineering and civil engineering technology include coursework in math, statistics, engineering mechanics and systems, and fluid dynamics, among other courses, depending on the specialty. Courses include a mix of traditional classroom learning, work in laboratories, and fieldwork.

A degree from a program accredited by the ABET is needed in order to earn the professional engineer (PE) license. In many states, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology also will suffice as an academic requirement for obtaining a license.

About 1 in 4 civil engineers has a master’s degree. Further education after the bachelor’s degree, along with the PE license and previous experience, is helpful in getting a job as a manager. For more information on engineering managers, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

Important Qualities

Decisionmaking skills. Civil engineers often balance multiple and frequently conflicting objectives, such as determining the feasibility of plans with regard to financial costs and safety concerns. Urban and regional planners often look to civil engineers for advice on these issues. Civil engineers must be able to make good decisions based on best practices, their own technical knowledge, and their own experience.

Leadership skills. Civil engineers take ultimate responsibility for the projects that they manage or research that they perform. Therefore, they must be able to lead planners, surveyors, construction managers, civil engineering technicians, civil engineering technologists, and others in implementing their project plan.

Math skills. Civil engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Organizational skills. Only licensed civil engineers can sign the design documents for infrastructure projects. This requirement makes it imperative that civil engineers be able to monitor and evaluate the work at the jobsite as a project progresses. That way, they can ensure compliance with the design documents. Civil engineers also often manage several projects at the same time, and thus must be able to balance time needs and to effectively allocate resources.

Problem-solving skills. Civil engineers work at the highest level of the planning, design, construction, and operation of multifaceted projects or research. The many variables involved require that they possess the ability to identify and evaluate complex problems. They must be able to then utilize their skill and training to develop cost-effective, safe, and efficient solutions.

Speaking skills. Civil engineers must present reports and plans to audiences of people with a wide range of backgrounds and technical knowledge. This requires the ability to speak clearly and to converse with people in various settings, and to translate engineering and scientific information into easy to understand concepts.

Writing skills. Civil engineers must be able to communicate with others, such as architects, landscape architects, and urban and regional planners. They also must be able to explain projects to elected officials and citizens. This means that civil engineers must be able to write reports that are clear, concise, and understandable to those with little or no technical or scientific background.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a civil engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, approve design plans, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years working under a licensed engineer
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.

Advancement

Civil engineers with ample experience may move into senior positions, such as project managers or functional managers of design, construction, operation, or maintenance. However, they would first need to obtain the Professional Engineering (PE) license, because only licensed engineers can assume responsibilities for public projects.

After gaining licensure, a professional engineer may seek credentialing that attests to his or her expertise in a civil engineering specialty. Such a credential may be of help for advancement to senior technical or even managerial positions.

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Civil Designer Jobs

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Civil Designer Career Paths

Civil Designer
Engineer Architect Project Architect
Assistant Construction Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Civil Engineer Project Engineer Construction Manager
Capital Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Surveyor Field Engineer Civil Engineer
Civil Engineer/Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Project Engineer
Construction Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Structural Designer Lead Designer Design Engineer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Manager Operations Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Facility Engineer
Facilities/Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Structural Designer Lead Designer Architect
Interior Designer/Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager Estimator Project Manager
Owner/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Structural Designer Senior Designer Design Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Manager Design Manager
Project Manager/Design Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Engineer Civil Engineer
Senior Civil Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Civil Engineer Senior Project Engineer Senior Mechanical Designer
Senior Designer/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Senior Mechanical Designer
Senior Piping Designer
12 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Structural Designer
Senior Structural Designer
13 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Senior Engineer
Senior Structural Engineer
12 Yearsyrs
Surveyor Survey Project Manager
Survey Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Design Technician Surveyor
Survey Party Chief
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Civil Designer?

Civil Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

80.2%

Female

17.5%

Unknown

2.3%
Ethnicity

White

58.9%

Hispanic or Latino

18.5%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

7.3%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

Polish

12.5%

Portuguese

6.3%

Vietnamese

6.3%

Chickasaw

6.3%

Carrier

6.3%

Cantonese

6.3%

Russian

6.3%
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Civil Designer Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

9.0%

University of Houston

9.0%

Lamar University

9.0%

Houston Community College

9.0%

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

6.7%

Pellissippi State Community College

5.6%

San Jose State University

4.5%

University of Arizona

4.5%

Tennessee Technological University

4.5%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

4.5%

Texas Southern University

3.4%

Arizona State University

3.4%

Youngstown State University

3.4%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

3.4%

San Antonio College

3.4%

Westech College

3.4%

Cleveland State University

3.4%

Wake Technical Community College

3.4%

Wharton County Junior College

3.4%

University of Texas at Austin

3.4%
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Majors

Civil Engineering

27.8%

Drafting And Design

23.9%

Business

5.9%

Engineering

5.9%

Civil Engineering Technologies

4.6%

Architecture

3.9%

Project Management

2.8%

Construction Management

2.8%

Engineering Technology

2.6%

Computer Science

2.6%

Graphic Design

2.3%

Industrial Technology

2.1%

Mechanical Engineering

2.1%

Environmental Design

2.1%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.8%

Architectural Technology

1.8%

Surveying, Mapping, And Hydraulic Technologies

1.5%

Electrical Engineering

1.3%

Urban Planning

1.3%

General Studies

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

31.4%

Other

27.4%

Associate

24.8%

Certificate

7.6%

Masters

6.4%

Diploma

1.5%

Doctorate

0.6%

License

0.4%
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Real Civil Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Principle Civil/Structrual Designer I CB&I Inc. Houston, TX Oct 08, 2016 $135,491 -
$167,560
Civil Designer Foster Wheeler USA Corporation Houston, TX Sep 30, 2012 $108,393
Civil Designer Vatani Consulting Engineers Houston, TX Sep 30, 2016 $108,160
Civil Designer Foster Wheeler USA Corporation Houston, TX Jul 27, 2012 $106,080
Architectural/Civil Designer Drafter Tadjer-Cohen-Edelson Associates, Inc. Silver Spring, MD Jan 08, 2016 $79,000
Civil Designer T.Y. Lin International San Ramon, CA Sep 10, 2012 $78,728
Civil Designer Vatani Consulting Engineers Houston, TX Oct 01, 2013 $75,712
Civil Designer/GIS Analyst Tapanam Associates, Inc. Kansas City, MO Dec 01, 2014 $75,000
Civil Designer T.Y. Lin International Chicago, IL May 12, 2012 $75,000 -
$79,000
Civil Designer T.Y. Lin International Chicago, IL Sep 10, 2012 $75,000 -
$79,000
Civil Designer/Traffic Analyst Ca Group, Inc. Las Vegas, NV Apr 01, 2015 $74,880
Civil Designer/Traffic Analyst Ca Group, Inc. Las Vegas, NV Jun 01, 2015 $74,880
Civil Designer Vatani Consulting Engineers, PLLC Houston, TX Oct 01, 2010 $72,000
Civil Designer/Traffic Analyst C A Group, Inc. Las Vegas, NV Oct 01, 2014 $70,000 -
$74,000
Civil Designer/Gis Analyst Tapanam Associates, Inc. Kansas City, MO Dec 01, 2011 $66,830
Civil Designer Civiltech Engineering Inc. Bellevue, WA Aug 02, 2014 $63,153
Senior Civil Designer Ammann & Whitney, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Oct 01, 2012 $62,000 -
$68,640
Senior Civil Designer Patrick Engineering, Inc. Lisle, IL Sep 15, 2014 $58,282

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Top Skills for A Civil Designer

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  1. Autocad
  2. Construction Drawings
  3. Site Layout
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Designed and produced plans for single family development projects using AutoCAD Land Development under the supervision of engineers.
  • Review construction drawings for accuracy, completeness and adherence to project specifications and engineering design.
  • Produced site layouts, utility locations, grading, landscaping, roadway sections and erosion controls for design and construction plans.
  • Designed plan and profile pipeline alignments, roadways, cross-sections, grading and drainage plans.
  • Supervised CAD operations for a 25-kilometer water distribution pipeline project located in the Gaza Strip.

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Top 10 Best States for Civil Designers

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Texas
  4. New Jersey
  5. Louisiana
  6. New York
  7. Nevada
  8. Washington
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Minnesota
  • (19 jobs)
  • (712 jobs)
  • (421 jobs)
  • (147 jobs)
  • (40 jobs)
  • (345 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)
  • (183 jobs)
  • (51 jobs)
  • (86 jobs)

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