Civil engineers work supervising construction projects, such as buildings, roads, tunnels, bridges, and other structures. They must have extensive knowledge of design, structural integrity, and construction. Specializations may include areas such as geotechnical, structural, or transportation engineering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the following as some of the core responsibilities for jobs in civil engineering:
- Analyze project plans, survey reposts, and maps.
- Ensure all building regulations are met.
- Review budgets and test building materials and site conditions.
- Share expertise and recommendations for bid proposals, environmental impact statements, and property descriptions.
Civil engineers will also utilize design software to help create and analyze plans, so technical knowledge in these areas is essential as well. Jobs for civil engineering majors may be found with private architectural, construction, or engineering firms or with local, state, or federal government. In fact, the federal government employs about the same number of civil engineers as private industry.
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Becoming a Civil Engineer
To qualify for entry level civil engineering jobs you will need to complete a bachelor's degree in this field or a closely related specialty, such as geotechnical or structural engineering. In addition, students should be sure to choose a program that is approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This type of accreditation is required to gain licensure and work as a professional engineer (PE). A professional engineer is one who sells their services publically.
Students enrolled in a civil engineering program will gain a strong foundation in the natural sciences and mathematics. They will also learn to develop problem-solving, decision-making, and leadership skills related to their career path. Common classes for this major include:
- Environmental Engineering
- Structural Analysis
- Civil Engineering Design
While entry-level positions usually only require a bachelor's degree, some students may opt to continue on to a master's program once they have gained some experience. This could put them in a better position to fill management and supervisory positions as their career advances. For those interested in teaching at the college level, a doctorate will be required.