In a world that’s been shaken by economic uncertainty, civil engineering careers remain rock solid. Today, there are thousands of civil engineers working in a variety of workplace settings across the United States. In fact, the need for skilled professionals with the ability to tackle complex projects is only growing. As our country’s vital infrastructure transforms to meet the needs of the future, employers cannot fill positions fast enough to keep pace with the projects being planned and executed today. 

Here’s what you need to know about starting a career in civil engineering, including the basics of the profession, the economic outlook for civil engineers and how to start building the necessary skills. 

What is Civil Engineering?

In short, civil engineers oversee large construction projects. These are the people that design and maintain critical infrastructure, such as roads, rail systems, airports and seaports. Due to their proficiency in finding the best possible way to build structures in a safe and efficient manner, civil engineers can be found in almost every industry you can think of. Starting with investigating potential worksites, then preparing environment evaluations, employing a detailed design process, supervising on-site work and maintaining project timelines and budgets, civil engineers are an integral part of every stage of the engineering and construction process. In addition to traditional construction settings, civil engineers also have the opportunity to make an impact in roles at public agencies, educational institutions and consulting firms. 

The Outlook for Civil Engineering Careers

To put it plainly, civil engineers are always needed for projects that require technical expertise and regulatory know-how. However, if recent reports are any indication, that need is poised to skyrocket. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics charts the industry for 8 percent growth over the next decade, The American Society of Civil Engineers also projects that there will be at least 5,000 new jobs for civil engineers made available over that time. In other words, there’s pent up demand in the job market for civil engineering professionals, and thousands of new roles yet to be created in this space. 

What You Need to Start Your Career

Whether working in the private or public sector, civil engineers need to be trained properly in order to do their jobs. To get there, U.S. News & World Report recommends job seekers follow a three-step plan of action.

  1. Develop Relevant Skills: Sure, math and science are key areas of focus for anyone interested in becoming a top-notch civil engineer, but these professionals are also known for having a wide range of skills. From computer programming to construction drafting and public speaking, it’s important to build a mix of competencies in order to be ready for the varied responsibilities of these roles. 
  2. Earn a College Degree in Civil Engineering: While a diverse skill set will come in handy once you’re in a civil engineering role, a degree is absolutely required to get your foot in the door. A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement for an entry level position. Pay special attention to course work, such as geology and construction management, that may be helpful throughout your career. 
  3. Consider Getting Licensed and a Graduate Degree: Did you know that the median pay for civil engineers currently stands at $88,570 per year? While entry-level roles in the industry can be a great starting point for any career, adding continued education to your resume can boost your earning potential and open new opportunities. Senior roles in this industry may require master’s or doctorate degrees, along with state licensures. 

Building Your Civil Engineering Career

While the discourse over the type of infrastructure needed and how much money our country needs to spend to build these projects may ebb and flow, one thing remains constant – the need for civil engineers. By building the correct skills today, job seekers can set themselves up for success in these roles for years to come. 

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