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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 Structural Designer
Top Careers After Structural Designer
Hispanic or Latino14.0%
Black or African American0.6%
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Houston Community College9.3%
University of Houston8.6%
University of Central Florida5.6%
Rochester Institute of Technology4.9%
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College4.9%
ITT Technical Institute-Houston West4.9%
Portland State University4.3%
Old Dominion University3.7%
University of Texas at Austin3.7%
Wichita State University3.7%
Georgia Institute of Technology -3.7%
Greenville Technical College3.7%
Trident Technical College3.1%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Principal Structural Designer||Worleyparsons Group, Inc.||Houston, TX||Feb 11, 2013||$183,352|
|Pdms Structural Designer||NES Global, LLC||Houston, TX||Feb 29, 2012||$156,000|
|Principle Civil/Structural Designer I||CB&I Inc.||Houston, TX||Oct 08, 2016||$135,491 -
|Civil/Structural Designer||Foster Wheeler USA Corporation||Houston, TX||Jun 11, 2015||$127,691 -
|Civil/Structural Designer||Foster Wheeler USA Corporation||Houston, TX||Sep 20, 2015||$118,368|
|Civil Structural Design (OIL and Gas Industry)||Foster Wheeler USA Corporation||Houston, TX||Sep 07, 2013||$113,650|
|Project Lead, Structural Design||DPR Construction, A General Partnership||San Jose, CA||Sep 14, 2016||$113,000|
|Project Lead, Structural Design||DPR Construction, A General Partnership||Palo Alto, CA||Sep 14, 2016||$113,000|
|Project Manager, Structural Design||DPR Construction, A General Partnership||Palo Alto, CA||Sep 09, 2016||$113,000|
|Project Manager, Structural Design||DPR Construction, A General Partnership||San Jose, CA||Sep 09, 2016||$113,000|
|Project Manager, Structural Design||DPR Construction, A General Partnership||Redwood City, CA||Apr 27, 2015||$110,600|
|Project Manager, Structural Design||DPR Construction, A General Partnership||San Jose, CA||Apr 27, 2015||$110,600|
|Civil/Structural Designer||Foster Wheeler USA Corporation||Houston, TX||Sep 16, 2013||$108,160|
|Structural/Aesthetic Designer||B&H Art-In-Architecture Ltd.||New York, NY||Oct 01, 2010||$107,203|
|Engineer II-Structural Design||Aker MH, Inc.||Katy, TX||Aug 30, 2010||$80,000 -
|Engineer II-Structural Design||Aker MH, Inc.||Katy, TX||Aug 23, 2010||$80,000 -
|Civil/Structural Designer||Vepica USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Jan 16, 2014||$79,038|
|Civil/Structural Designer||Vepica USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Jul 10, 2013||$79,038|
|Structural Designer||Volt Management Corp||Chula Vista, CA||Apr 11, 2011||$75,028|
|Professional Engineer, Structural Design||Rutherford & Chekene||San Francisco, CA||Apr 01, 2011||$74,000|
|Structural Designer||Gannett Fleming, Inc.||Phoenix, AZ||Jan 15, 2013||$73,424 -
|Civil I Structural Designer||Vepica USA, Inc.||Houston, TX||Oct 01, 2011||$61,256|
|Structural Designer||Baldridge & Associates Structural Engineering, Inc.||Mount Prospect, IL||Dec 08, 2016||$60,861|
|Structural Designer||Goodfriend Magruder Structure LLC||Chicago, IL||Sep 15, 2016||$60,861 -
|Structural Steel Connection Designer-Struct. Steel||BDS Steel Detailers (USA), Inc.||Tempe, AZ||Sep 07, 2010||$60,320|
|Structural Steel Connection Designer--Struct. Stee||BDS Steel Detailers (USA), Inc.||Tempe, AZ||Apr 15, 2011||$60,320|
|Structural Steel Connection Designer-Struct. Steel||BDS Steel Detailers (USA), Inc.||Tempe, AZ||Aug 27, 2010||$60,320|
|Avionics Mechanical & Structural Design Project EN||Emteq, Inc.||Miramar, FL||Oct 15, 2010||$60,300 -
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