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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 Water Engineer
Top Careers After Water Engineer
Hispanic or Latino9.2%
Black or African American3.3%
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Richmond Community College8.3%
University of Utah8.3%
Western Washington University4.2%
El Paso Community College4.2%
University of Colorado at Boulder4.2%
University of Connecticut4.2%
University of Florida4.2%
Western Oregon University4.2%
Indiana University Bloomington4.2%
Indiana Institute of Technology4.2%
University of Massachusetts - Lowell4.2%
University of Massachusetts Amherst4.2%
New Jersey Institute of Technology4.2%
University of Tennessee - Knoxville4.2%
More Tech Institute4.2%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Director of Global Water Engineering||GHD Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Dec 15, 2011||$176,500 -
|Senior Water Engineer||Carollo Engineers, Inc.||Walnut Creek, CA||Jan 01, 2016||$125,000|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Houston, TX||Feb 19, 2015||$121,035|
|Principal Water Engineer||GHD Inc.||Irvine, CA||Dec 15, 2011||$113,500 -
|Principal Water Engineer||GHD Inc.||Irvine, CA||Dec 14, 2013||$113,500 -
|Water Reuse Engineer||Carollo Engineers, Inc.||Boise, ID||Jul 06, 2015||$95,004|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Santa Ana, CA||Oct 01, 2012||$93,457|
|Water Engineer 2||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 21, 2015||$91,600|
|Water Engineer 2||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Oct 01, 2015||$91,600|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Sacramento, CA||Jan 01, 2012||$89,702 -
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Sacramento, CA||Aug 01, 2011||$89,702 -
|Water Engineer 4||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Tempe, AZ||Oct 01, 2014||$89,275|
|Water Engineer 2||Ch2M Hill Engineers Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Mar 18, 2016||$89,045|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Sacramento, CA||Dec 01, 2015||$88,489|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Sacramento, CA||Dec 01, 2014||$86,466|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Redding, CA||Jan 20, 2013||$86,146|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Sacramento, CA||Jun 20, 2014||$85,843|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Santa Ana, CA||May 15, 2012||$85,330|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Santa Ana, CA||May 15, 2012||$85,329|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Houston, TX||Jan 10, 2016||$85,296|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Redding, CA||Dec 21, 2011||$83,637|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Cincinnati, OH||Apr 22, 2015||$82,821|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Tempe, AZ||Dec 24, 2011||$72,850|
|Water Engineer||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Tempe, AZ||Sep 08, 2011||$72,850|
|Water Engineer||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Sacramento, CA||Sep 13, 2011||$72,797|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill, Inc.||Redding, CA||Sep 26, 2011||$72,615 -
|Water/Wastwater Engineer In Training||HDR Engineering, Inc.||Portland, OR||Jul 13, 2009||$72,072|
|Water Engineer 3||Ch2M Hill Engineers, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Jul 12, 2012||$71,640|
|Storm Water Associate Engineer||Klotz Associates, Inc.||Houston, TX||Sep 10, 2015||$70,800|
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