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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:
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.
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 Senior Civil Engineer
Top Careers After Senior Civil Engineer
Hispanic or Latino9.5%
Black or African American1.2%
Senior Civil Engineer
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Michigan Technological University7.5%
New Jersey Institute of Technology7.5%
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo7.5%
University of Florida6.3%
Georgia Institute of Technology -6.3%
University of Kansas6.3%
State University of New York Buffalo5.0%
Michigan State University5.0%
University of Utah5.0%
University of Alabama3.8%
Missouri University of Science and Technology3.8%
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee3.8%
University of California - Berkeley3.8%
Tennessee Technological University3.8%
Oklahoma State University3.8%
University of Nevada - Reno3.8%
Senior Civil Engineer
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Senior Civil Engineer||G.A.S. Unlimited, Inc.||Sugar Land, TX||Dec 05, 2011||$191,360|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Thompson Global Partners, LLC||Tampa, FL||Nov 01, 2009||$162,240|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Thompson Global Partners, LLC||Tampa, FL||Oct 01, 2009||$151,840|
|Senior Civil Engineer||AWS Truepower, LLC||San Diego, CA||Nov 03, 2016||$125,000|
|Senior Civil Engineer||AWS Truepower||San Diego, CA||May 12, 2016||$125,000|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Brookfield Power Us Asset Management LLC||Marlborough, MA||Nov 02, 2012||$125,000|
|SR. Civil Highway Engineer||URS Corporation||San Jose, CA||Aug 09, 2011||$120,545 -
|(Bridges) Senior Civil Engineer||Buckland & Taylor Ltd||Emeryville, CA||Nov 01, 2011||$120,399|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Brookfield Power Us Asset Management LLC||Marlborough, MA||Nov 02, 2009||$120,000|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Brookfield Power Us Asset Management LLC||Marlborough, MA||Oct 19, 2009||$120,000|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Aecom Techincal Services Inc.||Oakland, CA||Jun 18, 2010||$119,882|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Fluor Enterprises, Inc.||Sugar Land, TX||May 30, 2016||$119,600|
|Senior Civil Engineer I||Bechtel Power Corporation||Frederick, MD||Sep 05, 2013||$117,720|
|Senior Civil Engineer||MWH Americas, Inc.||Las Vegas, NV||Dec 21, 2011||$99,028|
|Senior Civil Engineer I||Bechtel Power Corporation||Bloomfield, NJ||Apr 22, 2014||$98,364 -
|Senior Civil Engineer||Bechtel Power Corporation||CA||Aug 28, 2013||$98,148 -
|Senior Civil Engineer||Professional Service Industries, Inc.||Dallas, TX||Jun 24, 2016||$97,760|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Frontier-Kemper Constructors, Inc.||Evansville, IN||Feb 04, 2010||$97,500|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Frontier-Kemper Constructors, Inc.||Pelham, NY||Feb 04, 2010||$97,500|
|Senior Resident Civil Engineer||MWH Americas, Inc.||Arcadia, CA||Feb 22, 2010||$97,157 -
|Sr.Civil Engineer||M&J Engineering, P.C||NY||Jan 15, 2016||$95,950|
|Senior Civil-Geotechnical Engineer||URS Corporation||Pasadena, CA||Mar 23, 2010||$85,358 -
|Senior Civil Engineer (Structural Engineer)||Bechtel Power Corporation||Frederick, MD||Nov 03, 2014||$85,140|
|Senior Civil Engineer||ARUP North America Ltd.||Los Angeles, CA||Nov 30, 2009||$85,072 -
|Senior Resident Civil Engineer||MWH Americas, Inc.||Arcadia, CA||Aug 17, 2009||$85,072 -
|SR. Civil Engr/Proj. Magr-Transportation||Post, Buckley, Schuh, & Jernigan, Inc.||Phoenix, AZ||Nov 10, 2009||$85,000|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Construction Testing & Engineering, Inc.||Escondido, CA||Oct 01, 2010||$85,000|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Formosa Plastics Corporation, U.S.A.||Point Comfort, TX||Jan 15, 2010||$83,534|
|Senior Civil Engineer||Ai Engineers, Inc.||Middletown, CT||Sep 14, 2012||$83,480|
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