Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems
Civil engineering is considered one of the oldest engineering disciplines, which includes many specialties. The major ones are structural, water resources, construction, environmental, transportation, and geotechnical engineering. Those with civil engineer jobs design and supervise the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems.
Civil engineers’ general responsibility is to provide technical advice regarding design, construction, or program modifications and structural repairs to industrial and managerial personnel. They inspect project sites to monitor progress and ensure conformance to design specifications and safety or sanitation standards. Those holding civil engineer jobs analyze construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages and risk analysis. They then provide estimate of quantities and cost of materials, equipment, or labor to determine project feasibility.
Civil engineers work in large construction projects and are responsible for testing of soils or materials to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations, concrete, asphalt, or steel. They also compute load and grade requirements, water flow rates, or material stress factors to determine design specifications. As part of their jobs, civil engineers use design software and drawing tools plan and design transportation or hydraulic systems and structures, following construction and government standards. They analyze survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photography, and other topographical or geologic data to plan projects.
Civil engineers direct or participate in surveying to lay out installations or establish reference points, grades, or elevations to guide construction. They prepare or present public reports on topics such as bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements, or property and right-of-way descriptions. Civil engineers manage and direct staff members and the construction, operations, or maintenance activities at project site. They also compile and submit permit applications to local, state, and federal agencies verifying that projects comply with various regulations.
With the going green movement and the increased needs in environmental protection, those with civil engineer careers are required to analyze manufacturing processes or byproducts to identify engineering solutions to minimize the output of carbon or other pollutants. They then design energy efficient or environmentally sound civil structures. They also design or engineer systems to efficiently dispose of chemical, biological, or other toxic waste. Civil engineers develop or implement engineering solutions to clean up industrial accidents or other contaminated sites. They direct engineering activities ensuring compliance with environmental, safety, or other governmental regulations. They also identify environmental risks and develop risk management strategies for civil engineering projects.
To perform their job, civil engineers use a variety of tools and technologies. To perform their analyses, they use analytical or scientific software such as HEC-1, Hydraulic modeling software, Trimble Geomatics Office, and WinTR-55. For designing, they use computer aided design (CAD) software such as Autodesk AutoCAD software, Bentley MicroStation, Eagle Point Site Design, and Research Engineers International STAAD. For map creation, they use software such as Cartography software, ESRI ArcView, Geographic information system GIS software, and Intergraph MGE.
Civil engineers usually work indoors in offices. Occasionally, they spend time outdoors at construction sites to monitor operations or solve problems at the site. Sometimes, civil engineers travel abroad to work on large engineering projects in other countries. Civil engineers typically work full time with 40 hours per week. Civil engineers who direct projects may need to work extra hours to monitor progress of the overall projects, to ensure that the design meets requirements, and to ensure that deadlines are met.
To enter a green job as a civil engineer, one must first complete a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or one of its specialties. For promotion to senior positions, they typically need a graduate degree and licensure. Licensure requirements vary within the U.S., however civil engineers must usually be licensed in the locations where they provide services publicly. A degree from an ABET-accredited program in civil engineering or civil engineering technology is generally required to obtain a license, which is required to work as a professional engineer (PE). In many states, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology will also suffice as an academic requirement for obtaining a license. About 25% of civil engineers have a master’s degree. A graduate degree along with the PE license and previous experience is helpful in getting a job as a manager.
During the licensing process, a civil engineer must take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination. After passing this exam and meeting a particular state’s requirements, an engineer then becomes a Civil Engineering (CE) Intern or an Engineer-in-Training (EIT). Then, depending on the state, civil engineers must have a minimum of experience, pass more exams, and satisfy other requirements to qualify as a CE Professional.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates a bright outlook for Civil Engineers and expects employment of this field to growth between 15% and 21% from 2012 until 2022, faster than the average for all green jobs. The BLS projected 120,100 civil engineer job openings between 2012 and 2022, and noted 273,000 jobs are currently filled. Titles include Civil Engineer, Engineer, Project Engineer, Project Manager, Structural Engineer, City Engineer, Civil Engineering Manager, Design Engineer, Railroad Design Consultant, and Research Hydraulic Engineer. The BLS further reports that the median annual wage for salaried Civil Engineers was $79,340 in 2012 with median hourly wage of $38.14. Across the US job market, he lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,280, and the top 10 percent earned more than $122,020. Civil Engineers can receive the best compensation in District of Columbia, where they earn compensation, on average, of about $93,790. People in this job function are compensated at the highest average salary in Wholesale Trade, where they get average pay levels of $95,710.