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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
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Graduate Engineer
Top Careers After Graduate Engineer
Hispanic or Latino9.2%
Black or African American2.9%
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Texas A&M University13.9%
Case Western Reserve University5.8%
University of Houston5.1%
University of Southern California5.1%
University of Texas at San Antonio5.1%
University of Texas at Arlington4.4%
Arizona State University4.4%
Wayne State University4.4%
Oklahoma State University4.4%
University of Texas at Austin4.4%
Michigan Technological University3.6%
Georgia Institute of Technology -3.6%
New Jersey Institute of Technology3.6%
San Jose State University2.9%
Missouri University of Science and Technology2.9%
Texas Tech University2.9%
University of Alabama at Birmingham2.9%
State University of New York Buffalo2.9%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Air Quality Graduate Engineer||AARC Environmental, Inc.||Houston, TX||Apr 16, 2015||$109,387|
|Graduate Engineer||Imagination Technologies LLC||Santa Clara, CA||Aug 17, 2015||$93,800|
|Graduate Engineer||Structuneering, Inc.||Houston, TX||Oct 01, 2015||$93,692|
|Graduate Engineer||Imagination Technologies LLC||Beaverton, OR||Aug 23, 2016||$93,500|
|Graduate Engineer||Imagination Technologies LLC||Beaverton, OR||Aug 25, 2016||$92,000|
|Air Quality Graduate Engineer||AARC Environmental, Inc.||Houston, TX||Feb 15, 2016||$91,000|
|Graduate Engineer||Arm, Inc.||Chandler, AZ||Aug 31, 2016||$84,460|
|Air Quality Graduate Engineer||AARC Environmental, Inc.||Houston, TX||May 01, 2016||$83,221|
|Graduate Engineer||HAKS Engineers, Architects and Land Surveyors, P.C.||New York, NY||Jul 16, 2015||$81,393|
|Graduate Engineer||Technip USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 02, 2015||$80,000|
|Graduate Engineer||Technip USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 25, 2015||$80,000|
|Graduate Engineer||Technip USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 16, 2015||$80,000|
|Graduate Engineer-Geotechnical||Kennecott Utah Copper, LLC||UT||Sep 01, 2015||$66,331 -
|Graduate Engineer||Walter P. Moore & Associates, Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 15, 2015||$66,300|
|Graduate Layout Engineer||Dialog Semiconductor||Santa Clara, CA||Aug 31, 2016||$65,800 -
|Graduate Engineer-Diagnostics Group||Walter P. Moore & Associates, Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 15, 2015||$65,502|
|Graduate Engineer||Structuneering Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 05, 2015||$65,000|
|Graduate Engineer||C&M Associates, Inc.||Dallas, TX||Sep 05, 2015||$65,000|
|Graduate Engineer||C&M Associates, Inc.||Orlando, FL||Sep 22, 2015||$65,000|
|Graduate Engineer||HAKS||New York, NY||Apr 09, 2015||$61,526|
|Graduate Plumbing Engineer||ARUP North America Ltd.||San Francisco, CA||Aug 31, 2015||$61,500|
|Graduate Engineer||Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc.||Tampa, FL||Aug 18, 2015||$61,500|
|Graduate Engineer||Walter P. Moore & Associates, Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 15, 2015||$61,500|
|Graduate Engineer II||Kit Professionals, Inc.||Houston, TX||Feb 16, 2015||$61,360|
|Traffic Designer/Graduate Engineer||Walter P. Moore & Associates, Inc.||Houston, TX||Aug 15, 2016||$61,360|
|Graduate Engineer||Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc.||Dallas, TX||Sep 05, 2015||$60,715|
|Graduate Engineer||Azteca Enterprises, Inc.||Dallas, TX||Aug 10, 2015||$60,715|
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