(6.9 out of 10)
|Number of Jobs:||51,100|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Technology Jobs||#9|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#26|
Civil engineering is a profession that offers plenty of visual payoff. Take a look around, and you’ll see the work of civil engineers everywhere—from buildings and bridges to roads and reservoirs. “To create things, to actually see them being built ... it’s very rewarding to see the results of what you saw on paper. It gives you a lot of personal satisfaction,” says Andrew Herrmann, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a bridge engineer himself. These professionals design and oversee the construction and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure such as highways, tunnels, rail systems, airports, and water supply and sewage systems. The job includes plenty of analysis, especially in the planning stage—studying survey reports and maps, breaking down construction costs, and considering government regulations and potential environmental hazards. Civil engineers may also test soils and building materials, provide cost estimates for equipment and labor, and use software to plan and design systems and structures.
There are many career paths within this field. Specialties include architectural, structural, transportation, traffic, water resources, and geotechnical engineering. Civil engineers may work for state or local governments, or in the private sector at consulting or construction firms. Some civil engineers go into supervisory or administrative positions, while others pursue careers in design, construction, or teaching.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19.4 percent employment growth for civil engineers between 2010 and 2020. During that time period, about 51,100 jobs will need to be filled. The promising outlook for civil engineering led this profession to claim the No. 26 spot on the 2013 list of Best Jobs.
According to the Labor Department, civil engineers made a median salary of $77,990 in 2011. The highest-paid 10 percent in the profession earned $119,620, while the lowest-paid earned $50,370 that year. The most highly compensated positions are within the commercial and industrial machinery/equipment repair and maintenance industry, and the highest-paid positions are clustered in the metropolitan areas of Salinas, Calif., San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif., and Lafayette, La.
Entry-level jobs require a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and all 50 states and the District of Columbia mandate licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Technical projects and management responsibility often require a master’s degree, and teaching requires a Ph.D.
Before deciding which civil engineering discipline to pursue—environmental, structural, or geotechnical engineering, for example— take different courses to see what interests you, suggests Herrmann. If possible, complete an internship while you're in school to get some practical experience. "If you're fortunate to get an internship, you can watch people working in a particular discipline and try it out. See how much you enjoy it, because you really should be enjoying what you're doing," he says. Developing solid communications skills—both written and oral—is also important. Says Herrmann: "You could design the best bridge in the world, but if you can't communicate the details to other engineers, the public, or officials, what good is it?"
|Upward Mobility||Above Average|
Last updated by Katy Marquardt.