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 practical experience. "If you're fortunate to get an internship, you can watch people working in a particular discipline and try it out," he says. "See how much you enjoy it because you really should be enjoying what you're doing." Developing solid communications skills – both written and oral – is also important. "You could design the best bridge in the world," says Herrmann, a bridge engineer himself, "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)
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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.
Last updated by Harriet Edleson.