How to Get a Job as a Civil Engineer
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?"
Interview Questions Submitted by Real Civil Engineers
"What is the responsibility of a resident engineer?" - MWRA Junior Civil Engineer Candidate (Chelsea, MA)
"What experience do you have with an irate customer?" - City of Durham, North Carolina Civil Engineer Candidate (Durham, NC)
"How would you cross a flood channel?" - Los Angeles Water and Power Civil Engineering Associate Candidate (Location Unknown)
What is the Job Like?
For the most part, jobs are project-based, says Herrmann, who is a bridge engineer. "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." Some civil engineers spend their lives in offices, and some spend all their time in the field. Many jobs offer a mixture of the two. Government jobs have predictable hours, while in the private sector, construction work tends to follow blue-collar hours— typically 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Working for a commercial real estate firm could entail longer hours and travel.
Real Reviews From Civil Engineers
+ "Solid job security with an extremely large variety of projects and potential positions." - U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Engineer (Location Unknown)
+ "Work usually related to specialty engineering where you come across different challenging environments." - A2B Engineering Civil Engineer (Tampa, FL)
- "Expect to work a lot of hours and no work/life balance. Health care prices continue going up and education benefits are not very good." - URS Graduate Civil Engineer (Location Unknown)
- "Having to move a lot to go where the projects are, sometimes more than once per year." - Bechtel Senior Civil Engineer (Frederick, MD)
Review information and interview questions supplied by Glassdoor.