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Become A Civil Engineering Designer

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Working As A Civil Engineering Designer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Civil Engineering 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.


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 Engineering 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.


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.


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 Engineering Designer Career Paths

Civil Engineering Designer
Civil Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Civil Engineer Project Engineer Project Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Civil Engineer Project Engineer Construction Manager
Senior Construction Manager
14 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Owner/Operator Construction Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Engineer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Engineer Design Engineer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Engineer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Civil Engineer/Project Manager Construction Manager
Construction Area Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Staff Engineer Engineering Manager Chief Engineer
Assistant Director Of Engineering
9 Yearsyrs
Staff Engineer Project Engineering Manager Estimator Project Manager
Controls Project Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Staff Engineer Assistant Project Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Civil/Structural Engineer Senior Engineer Project Engineering Manager
Capital Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Civil/Structural Engineer Senior Project Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Engineering Group Leader
7 Yearsyrs
Civil/Structural Engineer Senior Engineer Project Lead Engineer
Lead Engineer And Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Designer Consultant Assistant Controller
Projects Controller
7 Yearsyrs
Designer Architect Project Architect
Construction Consultant
11 Yearsyrs
Designer Senior Piping Designer Senior Field Engineer
Field Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Structural Design Engineer Lead Engineer Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Civil Engineering Designer?

Civil Engineering Designer Demographics










Hispanic or Latino




Black or African American



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Foreign Languages Spoken














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Civil Engineering Designer Education


University of Pittsburgh -


University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez


Texas A&M University


University of Nevada - Las Vegas


Georgia Institute of Technology -


Southern University and A & M College


University of Phoenix


Northeastern University


University of Alabama


California State Polytechnic University - Pomona


Temple University


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


Villanova University


Pennsylvania State University


University of Houston


Lamar University


Tennessee Technological University


Kansas State University


University of Washington


University of Tennessee - Knoxville

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Civil Engineering


Drafting And Design






Civil Engineering Technologies


Project Management


Mechanical Engineering




Construction Management


Architectural Engineering


Computer Science


Environmental Science


Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians


Mechanical Engineering Technology


Environmental Design


Environmental Engineering


Engineering Science


Computer Engineering




Engineering Technology

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Best Paying Company
BP America
Highest Paying City
Sunnyvale, CA
Highest Paying State
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Civil Engineering Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Civil Engineering Designer in the United States is $82,554 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $51,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $131,000.

Real Civil Engineering Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Civil Engineer-Tubular Design Specialist BP America Inc. Houston, TX Aug 01, 2014 $115,000
Civil Engineering Designer DRS Engineering, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Sep 01, 2013 $99,133
Civil Engineering Designer Urban Design Consulting Engineers San Francisco, CA Jun 16, 2016 $90,542
Civil Engineer/Solar Design Solar Energy Group LLC Tempe, AZ Oct 28, 2011 $90,022
Civil Engineering Designer DRS Engineering, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Mar 20, 2011 $83,480
Civil Engineering Designer DRS Engineering Santa Monica, CA Sep 01, 2010 $83,480
Civil Engineering Designer DRS Engineering, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Feb 09, 2011 $83,480
Civil Design Engineer Gulf Interstate Engineering Company Houston, TX Jan 16, 2012 $83,200
Civil Design Engineer T.Y. Lin International San Ramon, CA Oct 01, 2012 $78,728
Civil Design Engineer-In-Training Bergerabam Inc. San Diego, CA Feb 06, 2014 $76,173
Civil Engineer/Designer-Structural Steel Olson and Company Steel San Leandro, CA Sep 20, 2010 $75,566
Civil Design Engineer-In-Training Bergerabam Inc. San Diego, CA Feb 06, 2014 $73,206
Civil Design Engineer VP Buildings/Division of Bluescope Buildings N.A. Turlock, CA Jun 30, 2012 $70,003
Civil Engineering Designer Greenberg Farrow Architecture Inc. Somerset, NJ May 28, 2013 $70,000
Civil Engineer-Designer Vepica USA, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 20, 2015 $68,800
Civil Engineer-Traffic and Highway Design The RBA Group, Inc. New York, NY May 16, 2010 $68,000
Civil Engineering Designer Gorgy Engineering Inc. Glendale, CA Sep 22, 2016 $65,000
Civil Engineer/Site Designer Permasteelisa North America Corp. Windsor, CT Mar 01, 2011 $65,000
Civil Design Engineer Skillings Connolly, Inc. Lacey, WA Apr 19, 2016 $65,000 -
Civil Engineer Designer Spear & Associates, Inc. San Marcos, CA Jun 17, 2008 $64,134 -
Civil Design Engineer KPFF, Inc. Los Angeles, CA Sep 18, 2011 $63,000
Civil Engineering Designer Nabih Youssef & Associates Los Angeles, CA Dec 13, 2010 $62,610
Civil Designer/Engineer Ammann & Whitney Inc. New York, NY Aug 05, 2011 $62,005
Civil/Design Engineer Capitol Development Design, Inc. Beltsville, MD Sep 22, 2016 $61,358

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Top Skills for A Civil Engineering Designer

  1. Engineering Department
  2. Drainage Plans
  3. Sewer Lines
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Have field experience working with survey crews and engineering departments.
  • Engaged in Highway Drainage Plans and Civil/Site Plans for Public and Private Facility Sites.
  • Designed and Calculated Sanitary Sewer lines and layout of Waterlines for Residential Construction Plans.
  • Use AutoCAD, AutoCAD Civil 3D, InRoads and MicroStation for roadway design, modeling and plan production.
  • Prepared and organized detailed engineering cost estimates and technical proposals for slope protection bidding projects.

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Top 10 Best States for Civil Engineering Designers

  1. Alaska
  2. California
  3. Texas
  4. Nevada
  5. New Jersey
  6. New Mexico
  7. Louisiana
  8. Minnesota
  9. Washington
  10. Oklahoma
  • (21 jobs)
  • (523 jobs)
  • (337 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (117 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (29 jobs)
  • (90 jobs)
  • (167 jobs)
  • (39 jobs)

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