Civil Engineering Careers

Read on to learn about typical courses, resources, and careers in this field.

Staff Writer

2022-11-1315 min read

Civil engineering aims to shape and improve lives and the physical environment through the inventive application of engineering principles and knowledge.

Civil engineers oversee and maintain infrastructure projects from the design to the completion.

Their work is centered on the sustainable layout for the built and natural environment, both onshore and offshore.

This is your career choice if you want to make positive improvements to society in sustainable design using building techniques.

Read on to find everything you need in your civil engineering career.

Why Choose Civil Engineering?

Civil engineers shape the world we live in. They design, build and maintain the infrastructure that is ignored.

Their proficiency is essential for a sustainable future in the world.

This is the right career path if you want to make a difference.

This career allows you to create your ideas into reality.

How to Start your Civil Engineering Journey

Starting a career in this field requires at least a bachelor's degree. However, several roles need more advanced degrees.

Graduates who obtain a degree in civil engineering can prepare for many careers, depending on their area of specialization.

Many degree programs in this sector emphasize transferable skills such as attention to detail, problem-solving, organization, critical thinking, communication skills, etc.

These skills are vital for a successful career in civil engineering.

Education Requirements

Associate Degree

Associate degrees develop students' skills in applying civil and structural engineering technology.

Students gain specialized knowledge of environmental engineering, drafting and modeling structural, project management, etc.

Graduates of associate's degree programs can seek various career opportunities, such as estimator, drafter, project managers, etc.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree in this field teaches students how to design society's infrastructure.

Graduates can start careers as civil or environmental engineers, technologists, or technicians, civil engineering technicians, construction managers, architectural and engineering managers, etc.

Master's Degree

A master's degree in civil engineering builds upon a bachelor's degree and explores advanced engineering aspects.

Students attain a deeper understanding of how projects influence the environment and people at this level.

With a graduate degree, you can work as a senior civil engineer, environmental engineer, etc.

Doctorate in Civil Engineering

With a doctorate civil engineering degree, candidates are allowed a specialization area.

Most doctorate civil engineering programs consist of coursework, examinations, and research toward a dissertation.

To enroll in these research-focused programs, applicants need a master's in civil engineering or a closely related area.

Graduates with doctorate civil engineering degrees are qualified to enter careers as educators in universities, Senior Geotechnical Engineer, Senior Project Engineer, Construction Engineers, etc.

Employment Prospects

Civil engineering graduates qualify for several high-demand roles with high job satisfaction ratings.

With your associate's or bachelor's degree, you can work in an entry position with room for improvement.

On average, demand for employment in architecture and engineering occupations enjoys 200,900 openings each year.

However, on average, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), also projects 24,200 openings for civil engineers each year.

Civil Engineering Career Forecast

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that architecture and engineering occupations will grow by 4% from 2021 to 2031.

However, within this sector, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that civil engineers will see 7% job growth during the same period.

Most civil engineering roles pay over $80,000, with several openings yearly.

Lucrative Civil Engineering Career Paths

Civil Engineering is an extensive field with numerous career paths and job prospects in different sectors.

Here are some of the Civil Engineering careers.

Structural Engineer

Structural engineers design and develop various forms of infrastructures that are important in creating a community.

Structural engineers work closely with the construction sector.

Structural engineers must have strong communication skills.

Average Salary

Structural engineers earn a median annual salary of $71,934.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Prepare reports, designs, and drawings
  • Select appropriate construction materials
  • Provide technical advice
  • Obtain planning and building regulations approval
  • Monitor and inspect work undertaken by contractors
  • Administer contracts
  • Inspect properties to check conditions
  • Evaluate solar array support structures

Industries Employing Structural Engineers

  • Engineering
  • Federal government
  • Construction

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers employ the principles of engineering, biology, soil science, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental issues.

They also address global issues, such as climate change, unsafe water, and environmental sustainability.

Average Salary

Environmental engineers earn a median annual salary of $96,820.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Prepare and update environmental investigation records
  • Design environmental protection projects
  • Obtain and maintain standard operating procedures
  • Provide technical support for environmental projects
  • Analyze scientific data
  • Inspect industrial and metropolitan facilities

Industries Employing Environmental Engineers

  • Engineering services
  • Management, scientific, and technical consulting services
  • Government

Geotechnical Engineer

Geotechnical engineers analyze the impact of geological formations on construction projects.

They use advanced knowledge of scientific and mathematical processes to evaluate the earth's formation beneath and around buildings and structures.

Average Salary

Geotechnical engineers earn a median annual salary of $68,771.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Collect soil samples from locations
  • Assess the geological risks of an area
  • Choose the best place for a construction project
  • Prepare reports about the geological conditions of a location
  • Determine how to complete a construction project

Industries Employing Geotechnical Engineers

  • Engineering
  • Government
  • Construction

Transportation Engineer

Transportation engineers plan and maintain transportation systems.

They research new projects and extend through the ongoing care of existing structures and systems.

Communication skills and attention to detail is an important attributes in this role.

Average Salary

Transportation engineers earn a median annual salary of $71,137.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Supervise work on a construction site
  • Determine the traffic effect caused by new development plans
  • Set goals for new projects
  • Prepare work plans
  • Create transportation models
  • Prepare reports on traffic and transportation issues
  • Prepare budgets and schedules for transportation projects
  • Provide recommendations for traffic policies

Industries Employing Transportation Engineers

  • Transportation
  • Engineering
  • Federal agencies

Water Resource Engineer

Water resource engineers calculate water resources and suggest changes to the current resource model.

They have extensive technical knowledge to revise current parameters and prepare hydraulic models.

Water resources engineers design documents and proposals with detailed specifications for water resources projects.

Average Salary

Water resource engineers earn a median annual salary of $70,459.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Conduct analysis to collect data and assess sites.
  • Write reports and correspondence
  • Design and update plans to meet industry and government standards
  • Facilitate project management
  • Model and map recommended and current projects.

Industries Employing Water Resource Engineers

  • Government
  • Engineering
  • Private organizations

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers design and oversee the construction of public works and other large infrastructure projects.

Most civil engineers work with federal, state and local government agencies.

Average Salary

Civil engineers earn a median annual salary of $88,050.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Analyze plans and design projects
  • Consider construction costs
  • Compile and submit permit applications
  • Oversee and analyze the results of soil testing
  • Evaluate the results of tests on building materials
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems.
  • Manage the maintenance and replacement of infrastructures
  • Oversee construction

Industries Employing Civil Engineers

  • Government
  • Construction
  • Engineering services

Engineering Project Manager

Engineering project managers lead and direct specialized engineers in specific projects.

Strong communication skills and critical thinking are essential in this position.

Average Salary

Engineering project managers earn a median annual salary of $96,939.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Ensure adherence to safety guidelines
  • Motivate and encourage team members
  • Creating schedules
  • Close project processes
  • Prepare proposals and other reports

Industries Employing Engineering Project Managers

  • Government
  • Engineering
  • Project Management

Design Engineer

Design Engineers turn ideas for products into functional prototypes by employing efficient and cheap processes.

They prepare design briefs t and use engineering software to refine and develop their product.

Average Salary

Design engineers earn a median annual salary of $70,212.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Assess design briefs
  • Conduct research on user experience
  • Develop solutions that solve user problems
  • Create multiple iterations of design prototypes
  • Evaluate design solutions against industry standards and regulations
  • Document and present the design process

Industries Employing Design Engineers

  • Engineering
  • Government
  • Research and development companies
  • Construction firms
  • Product manufacturing plants.

Land Surveyor

Land surveyors make precise measurements to determine property borders.

They give data relevant to the shape and pattern of the Earth's surface for map-making, construction, and engineering projects.

Average Salary

Land surveyors earn a median annual salary of $61,600.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Measure distances and angles between points
  • Determine the exact location of essential features
  • Research land records
  • Look for evidence of previous boundaries
  • Record the results of surveying
  • Prepare plots, maps, and reports

Industries Employing Land Surveyors

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Government
  • Construction
  • Self-employed workers
  • Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction

Civil Engineering Technologist and Technician

Civil engineering technologists and technicians help civil engineers plan, design, and build infrastructure projects.

Average Salary

Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians earn a median annual salary of $58,320.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Read and review project drawings and plans
  • Prepare reports and document project activities and data
  • Confer with engineers to prepare plans
  • Develop strategies and estimate costs
  • Conduct field surveys to collect data
  • Test the appropriateness of construction materials and soil samples
  • Observe project sites
  • Set up and help maintain project files and records

Industries Employing Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians

  • Engineering
  • Government
  • Construction


Architects use their engineering, design, managing, and coordinating skills to create aesthetically fascinating and safe buildings that serve a purpose.

Average Salary

Architects earn a median annual salary of $80,180

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Meet with clients to determine objectives for structures
  • Give preliminary estimates on cost and construction time
  • Manage construction contracts
  • Prepare contract documents for building contractors
  • Prepare structure specifications
  • Prepare scaled drawings
  • Manage construction contracts

Industries Employing Architect

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Self-employed workers
  • Construction
  • Government

Civil Engineering Drafter

Civil engineering drafters use software to convert the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings.

They design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Average Salary

Civil engineering drafters earn a median annual salary of $60,290.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Design plans
  • Work from specifications created by engineers and architects
  • Design products with engineering and manufacturing techniques
  • Add details to architectural plans
  • Work under the supervision of engineers

Industries Employing Civil Engineering Drafters

  • Architectural, engineering, and related services
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Administrative and support
  • Waste management and remediation services

Traffic Engineer

Traffic engineers plan, design, and construct transportation infrastructure.

They develop plans that improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and increase safety on roadways.

Traffic engineers also monitor the effectiveness of these plans over time.

One of the essential skills in this role is communication skills.

Average Salary

Traffic engineers earn a median annual salary of $73,178.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Analyzing traffic data
  • Perform construction inspections
  • Adjust traffic flow during significant road projects
  • Ensures signs and signals are visible and marked
  • Develop and update city transportation plans

Industries Employing Traffic Engineers

  • Engineering
  • Government
  • Architectural services

Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

Marine engineers and naval architects design, build and maintain ships.

Average Salary

Marine engineers and naval architects earn a median annual salary of $93,370.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Prepare system layouts
  • Inspect marine equipment and machinery
  • Conduct performance tests on marine machinery and equipment
  • Design and oversee the testing of marine equipment
  • Investigate and test machinery
  • Coordinate activities with regulatory bodies
  • Prepare technical reports for use by engineers
  • Prepare cost estimates
  • Study design proposals and specifications
  • Develop sectional and waterline curves of the ship's hull
  • Design the complete layout of ships' interiors

Industries Employing Marine Engineers and Naval Architects

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Government,
  • Water transportation
  • Engineering

Quantity surveyor

Quantity surveyors estimate and control costs for large construction projects.

They ensure structures meet legal and quality standards.

Quantity surveyors are involved at every stage of a project.

Average Salary

Quantity surveyors earn a median annual salary of $60,000.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Assist in the identification of commercial risks
  • Prepare and manage material procurement schedules.
  • Encourage and develop a culture of contractual awareness
  • Prepare internal cost reports for upper management.

Industries Employing Quantity Surveyors

  • Government
  • Quantity surveyor consultancy firms,
  • Construction companies
  • Estate developer's firms,
  • Oil companies,
  • Universities

Urban designer

An urban designer is responsible for the use of land within a metropolitan area.

They focus on developing new residential housing to accommodate population growth and determine needs such as transportation and other services.

Urban designers must be familiar with building code regulations, environmental regulations, zoning regulations, etc., that may affect land use.

Urban designers consider the immediate needs of the community, as well as the long-term needs, which they factor into the development of available land.

Average Salary

Urban designers earn a median annual salary of $61,267.

Roles and Responsibilities

  • Participate in meetings with clients to collect information about their needs.
  • Develop plans for new communities
  • Create environmental impact analyses
  • Working with engineers and architects to develop drawings for construction projects such as roads and bridges
  • Prepare construction budgets
  • Perform public outreach to request input from residents
  • Prepare reports with design concepts and sketches of proposed plans using computer-aided design software.

Industries Employing Urban Designers

  • Architectural
  • Government
  • Construction

How to Boost your Civil Engineering Career

There are various ways to boost your career after obtaining a degree.

You can take professional certification courses in your career advancement, making yourself outstanding for hiring organizations.

Other ways to boost your career include:

  • Join a professional engineering organization
  • Keep building your skills
  • Attend conferences
  • Keep up with your industry
  • Internships
  • Networking

Pros and Cons of Civil Engineering Careers

With a degree in civil engineering, you can land high job demands.

Here are a few pros and cons of a career in civil engineering.


  • High-paying salary
  • Variety of job options
  • Positive job outlook
  • Positive impact
  • Working with others
  • Respected career


  • Pressure from stakeholders
  • Work pressure
  • High proficiency in sighting even minute errors
  • Risk on work sites
  • Long working hours

Skills You'll Develop While Studying Civil Engineering

Here are specific skills you will need to be proficient in, regardless of your role in civil engineering.

These skills are vital as they provide a framework for career growth.

Critical Thinking

Most civil engineering projects are sophisticated and have massive funds and reach.

As a result, critical thinking skills are essential to finding an optimized solution to a civil engineering crisis.

Employers often prefer applicants who can provide practical solutions and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Attention to details

Many of the projects mandate a high level of precision and perfection.

This competence is crucial for civil engineers who design and develop buildings in adherence to safety and construction rules.


From the planning phase to the execution phase of a project, a civil engineer solves several problems.

They may face complicated technical difficulties related to building design or planning constraints.

Their ability to fix issues allows them to find practical solutions and assure project continuity.

Organization skills

Civil engineers' daily activities include monitoring the progress of a building under construction.

They ensure compliance with project proposals, design reports, budget plans, and rules associated with the project.

A civil engineer organizes all facets of the project to ensure that team members know their duties and responsibilities.


In any civil engineering project, an engineer works together as a team.

Teamwork skills are paramount in determining if you can collaborate and work together as a cohesive team.

This contributes to the project's timely completion and ensures that civil structures meet the expected standard.

How to Prepare for a Civil Engineering Career

1. Degree

Obtaining a civil engineering degree is vital in your career journey.

They will help you develop the necessary skills to be competitive in the industry and also help you to comprehend how to operate as a civil engineer.

**2. Internship **

While studying to become a civil engineer, you may complete an internship.

Internships enable you to make contacts in the field and better comprehend a civil engineer's daily tasks.

You can work on your engineering mastery through an internship and learn how to utilize civil engineering tools and software.

3. Pursue specialized certifications

To boost your odds of earning a civil engineer position after graduation, pursue specialized certifications.

Professional certifications are optional but help to establish your competency in expected skills.

They also show your commitment to your professional development.

4. Join a professional body

Joining a professional organization can create opportunities for students looking to expand their networks.

Civil Engineering Resources to Help Your Career

Below are educational and professional resources to help you start or advance a civil engineering career

How to Switch to a Civil Engineering Career

Professionals in different engineering sectors often switch careers to adapt to evolving technologies and the unstable global economy.

Due to the multidimensional nature of engineering research and training, job changes also happen externally.

Employers are open to people who have worked in related sectors, although you will need to do some extra learning or training.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering deals with the layout, construction, and sustenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works.

What certification do I need for a Civil Engineering career?

Civil engineering certifications come in different categories provided by multiple various institutions.

Below are a few of them:

  • Engineer In Training Certification (EIT)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Construction Manager (CCM)
  • LEED AP Building Design + Construction (LEED)
  • Certified Building Commissioning Professional (CBCP)

Can I get a Civil Engineering degree online?

You can earn a civil engineering degree online from a highly recognized and authorized civil engineering program that you can complete at your pace.

What fields can Civil Engineering professionals work in?

Anyone with a civil engineering degree can work in any engineering-related industry, depending on their education level, skill sets, and experience.

Lucrative opportunities include :

  • Geotechnical engineer.
  • Environmental engineer.
  • Marine engineer.
  • Engineering manager.
  • Design engineer.
  • Construction managers
  • Water resource engineer.
  • Civil engineer, etc.

Is there a high demand for Civil Engineering majors?

Civil engineers are in high demand; according to the Bureau of labor statistics, employment for civil engineers will grow by 7% between 2021 and 2031.

Because of the increasing population, there is a tremendous need for new buildings and other infrastructure requirements.

Final Thoughts

Obtaining a degree in civil engineering can equip you for many positions in the engineering industry.

Depending on your interests, you can work in any space you choose. From civil engineering drafter to marine engineering, the possibilities are substantial.

Whatever your option, this guide will provide you with the essential information you need to break into the field of civil engineering.

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