CIVIL ENGINEERING SCHOOLS, DEGREES AND CAREERS
What You'll Do
By Jennifer Wegerer
Civil engineering professionals design, construct and maintain society's infrastructure—buildings, bridges, roads, airports, dams, water supplies and environmental systems. With the intricacy involved in creating and updating infrastructure designs and projects, civil engineers must take into account not only construction costs but project completion time, government regulations and potential environmental hazards, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
One of the oldest engineering disciplines, civil engineering plays a central role in communicating infrastructure ideas and solutions to local, state and federal government. And they make a strong effort to inform the public as well. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes booklets and other resources to educate communities and clarify issues surrounding the latest infrastructure topics.
Possessing a deep and abiding interest in the civil infrastructure, civil engineers often build careers at construction companies, government agencies and private consulting firms. But they are not restricted to these organizations. In fact, aerospace, oil, automotive, power and pharmaceutical industries employ their fair share of civil engineers.
A key factor in the growing demand for civil engineers? An expanding U.S. population. With more people comes an increased demand for improved infrastructure, expanded water supplies, greater pollution control and other upgrades essential to a thriving population.
The Future of Civil Engineering
When it comes to rebuilding the U.S. infrastructure, civil engineers are voices to trust, and they take their responsibility seriously. The ASCE tracks government relations topics for which the civil engineering community has suggested policies and provided testimony. Regarding federal regulations that surround public safety and environmental consciousness, civil engineers have been involved in an extensive list of issues:
- Plans for natural resource conservation and suggestions for disseminating related emergency funding under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
- Recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration on national tunnel inspection standards and procedures.
- Support and research regarding top-priority economic and environmental policies.
Schools & Degrees
Civil engineers belong to one of the most interdisciplinary engineering fields. As such, civil engineering majors can expect their college programs to encompass course work in in-depth civil engineering topics as well as computer science, applied mathematics, economics, chemistry and business management.
Colleges and universities across the U.S. offer bachelor's, master's and PhD programs in civil engineering and civil engineering technology. As the BLS indicates, civil engineering falls among the top three specialties in which students earn engineering degrees in the U.S. While a bachelor's serves as a good foundation for most entry-level jobs, the ASCE recommends that civil engineers aspiring to higher-level positions or roles as educators attain an advanced degree.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median national annual salary for civil engineers is $89,940. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.
Median Salary: $89,940
Projected job growth: 5%
10th Percentile: $61,040
25th Percentile: $74,330
75th Percentile: $117,540
90th Percentile: $138,690
Projected job growth: 5%
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$82,390||$67,630||$146,280|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.
Did you know?
Although structural engineering dates back to the construction of the Pyramids in Egypt, civil engineering officially came into being in the 1700s when John Smeaton designed the third Eddystone Lighthouse off the coast of England.
Civil engineering delivered a number of feats in the 20th century, which ASCE narrowed down to what it calls the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World." These achievements include: the Channel Tunnel (or Chunnel) that links Britain with the rest of Europe; the Empire State Building; the Golden Gate Bridge; and the Panama Canal.