Civil engineering is most likely the oldest engineering niche in history. The first time someone built a home, for instance, he used civil engineering.
This type of engineering deals with all of the structures used to develop modern civilization. Clearly, that means that civil engineering encompasses a broad variety of buildings and structures. Think about the number of times today you’ve used something created by a civil engineer. If you took a shower this morning, you used water that flowed through a pipe system designed by a civil engineer. Drove on a roadway to get to work? You guessed it- that roadway was designed by a civil engineer.
While many civil engineers design systems that help cities to run efficiently, civil engineering is also key in the aerospace, automotive, boating, and manufacturing industries, just to name a few. Essentially, civil engineering keep the world running smoothly.
Careers in Civil Engineering
Let’s talk about some of the careers available to individuals with degrees in civil engineering. The salaries listed here are median, and it’s important to remember that some civil engineering salaries will be higher than those listed here, while others will be lower. There are many factors that come into play when determining a salary, including the employee’s education level, years of experience, and qualifications, as well as the financial health of the organization and cost of living in the area in which the job is located.
Median Salary: $65,000
Transportation engineers oversee the multitude of engineering aspects of transportation projects. Typically, transportation engineers handle areas like traffic flow, city planning, airport and other construction, and associated technology. Transportation engineers may be responsible for a specific piece of a job (such as ensuring that a roadway is set up to efficiently manage traffic flow) or they may be responsible for overseeing a larger aspect of a project (such as ensuring that a bridge is built on time and under budget). The longer a transportation engineer has been working, the larger their role in a project typically becomes.
Transportation engineers spend some of their time in an office doing design work, and spend some of their time on job sites, taking measurements and using engineering knowledge to ensure that projects are completed safely. It’s important for transportation engineers to have excellent spatial and math skills so that they can create blueprints using computer aided design software. It’s also important for transportation engineers to have strong leadership and communication skills so that they can easily explain ideas to their teams.
Road/ Highway Civil Engineer
Median Salary: $68,000
Road and highway civil engineers focus on the safe creation of on-ramps, off-ramps, highways, roads, and bridges. This type of civil engineer not only ensures that roads and highways are built safely – they also advise lawmakers on how to keep drivers safe. This means that they use engineering technology to pinpoint the best locations for caution signs and guard rails, and to determine appropriate speed limits for different roads. Road/ highway civil engineers spend much of their time in an office setting, but they do occasionally travel to job sites to oversee road construction. In this career, it’s important to have extensive knowledge of how to effectively use computer aided design software.
Many road and highway engineers work alone, but some lead large teams through roadway construction projects.
Construction Safety Manager
Median Salary: $78,000
Construction safety managers are responsible for overseeing all aspects of a construction project as they relate to safety. This means ensuring not only that the final product is structurally safe and sound, but also that the workers who are building the project are safe during its construction. First and foremost, safety managers need extensive training and understanding of occupational hazards.
While construction managers do spend some time in the office, much of their time is spent on site, evaluating the safety of construction workers. It’s key for construction safety managers to have excellent communication skills, as much of their time is spent briefing construction foremen on safety changes that need to be made. Construction safety managers also occasionally work with law makers, advising on how occupational hazard laws need to be updated to keep up with the latest in construction technology.
Median Salary: $94,000
Structural engineers work to design and maintain architectural structures, focusing on the loads and demands that a building needs to support. They then create plans for a structure that meets those needs.
Structural engineers work closely with architects throughout the entire course of a construction project. They work in a variety of industries, and may be employed by governments, corporations, or non profit organizations.
Structural engineers spend some of their time working in an office, especially in the early stages of a new project. As a project gets underway, structural engineers spend more time on the job site, troubleshooting problems that arise and looking for mistakes that could cause issues with the structural integrity of the building. At the end of a job, structural engineers do a meticulous walk through to find any issues that could make the building unsafe for the people who will use it. Teamwork and communication skills are critical for these individuals, as they are constantly working with architects and construction teams.
Bridge Civil Engineer
Median Salary: $114,000
Have you ever driven across a bridge that spanned a large waterway and wondered how such a structure could be built? Bridge engineers are civil engineers who work to ensure that cars and people are able to safely cross waterways.
Most bridge engineers are leaders of bridge creation projects. They use information that has been gathered by their team to plan and design the building of a new bridge. It’s important for bridge engineers to have excellent communication and teamwork skills, as they are constantly working with various experts to put together structurally sound bridge designs.
Bridge engineers need to not only have knowledge of civil engineering – they also need to have some background in environmental science. It’s important for bridge engineers to test the soil of the area in which they are building the bridge to help them learn about what the structure will require. It’s also important for bridge engineers to consider the water level, current, and temperature, and how these factors could affect the structure over time.
Bridge engineers spend most of their time working outdoors at job sites. Some of their time is spent indoors reviewing plans, especially at the beginning of a project.
Engineering Group Manager
Median Salary: $114,000
An engineering group manager is a civil engineer who is in charge of a group of engineers, overseeing large projects. At this level, it’s important to have excellent communication and leadership skills. Often, the engineers report their plans to the group manager, who then reviews the plans and looks for weak spots that could be improved. At this level, it’s important to have many years of engineering experience. Group management can be stressful, especially when managing less experienced engineers. Group managers typically spend much of their time working in an office, depending on job site reports from their team.
There are many different opportunities for civil engineers to work in a variety of industries. If you enjoy solving problems, working with others, and getting to see your work on a large scale, civil engineering may be a good fit for you. Remember, it’s not all about math and science – leadership skills are also key for engineers!