Approximately 326,800 civil engineers work in the United States. Nearly half of all civil engineers work for companies involved in architectural and engineering consulting services. Others work for government agencies at the local, state, or federal level. About 4 percent are self-employed, running their own consulting businesses.
To establish a career as a civil engineer, one must first receive a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or civil engineering technology. Entry-level jobs usually involve routine work, often as a member of a supervised team. After a year or more (depending on job performance and qualifications), one becomes a junior engineer, then an assistant to perhaps one or more supervising engineers.
Civil engineers require both a license and experience to advance to a management position. Professional engineers with many years' experience often join with partners to establish their own firms in design, consulting, or contracting. Some leave long-held positions to work as top executives in industries such as manufacturing and business consulting. Also, some engineers return to academia to teach high school or college students. For all of these potential opportunities, it is necessary to keep abreast of engineering advancements and trends by reading industry journals and taking courses, many of which are offered online.
Tips for Entry
Get licensed; licenses are required by all states and the District of Columbia for engineers who exercise direct control over a project and supervise other engineers.
As a student, apply for internships at local engineering firms and consider enrolling in co-op employment programs or internship programs at your college or university. Consider earning a graduate degree in civil engineering.
Build a strong background in math and science by taking classes in geometry, physics, chemistry, trigonometry, calculus, computer science, and related subjects.
A willingness to relocate to developing areas may lead to opportunities in this field.
Develop solid communication skills, both written and oral.