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Career profile Civil Engineer

Also known as City Engineer, Civil Engineer, County Engineer, Design Engineer, Project Engineer, Railroad Design Consultant, Structural Engineer

Civil Engineer

Also known as City Engineer, Civil Engineer, County Engineer

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$56,160 - $144,810 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
  • Mathematics
Knowledge Areas
  • Design
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Building and Construction
Core tasks
  • Direct engineering activities, ensuring compliance with environmental, safety, or other governmental regulations.
  • Test soils or materials to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations, concrete, asphalt, or steel.
  • Manage and direct the construction, operations, or maintenance activities at project site.
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What does a Civil Engineer do?

Civil Engineers perform engineering duties in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities, such as roads, railroads, airports, bridges, harbors, channels, dams, irrigation projects, pipelines, power plants, and water and sewage systems.

What kind of tasks does a Civil Engineer perform regularly?

Civil Engineers are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Direct engineering activities, ensuring compliance with environmental, safety, or other governmental regulations.
  • Manage and direct the construction, operations, or maintenance activities at project site.
  • Inspect project sites to monitor progress and ensure conformance to design specifications and safety or sanitation standards.
  • Compute load and grade requirements, water flow rates, or material stress factors to determine design specifications.
  • Plan and design transportation or hydraulic systems or structures, using computer-assisted design or drawing tools.
  • Provide technical advice to industrial or managerial personnel regarding design, construction, program modifications, or structural repairs.
  • Direct or participate in surveying to lay out installations or establish reference points, grades, or elevations to guide construction.
  • Analyze survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photography, or other topographical or geologic data.
  • Estimate quantities and cost of materials, equipment, or labor to determine project feasibility.
  • Prepare or present public reports on topics such as bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements, or property and right-of-way descriptions.
  • Design energy-efficient or environmentally sound civil structures.

The above responsibilities are specific to Civil Engineers. More generally, Civil Engineers are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

What is a Civil Engineer salary?

The median salary for a Civil Engineer is $88,570, and the average salary is $95,440. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Civil Engineer salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Civil Engineers earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Civil Engineers earn less than $56,160 per year, 25% earn less than $69,100, 75% earn less than $115,110, and 90% earn less than $144,810.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Civil Engineers is expected to change by 8.2%, and there should be roughly 25,000 open positions for Civil Engineers every year.

Median annual salary
$88,570
Typical salary range
$56,160 - $144,810
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
8.2%

What personality traits are common among Civil Engineers?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Civil Engineer are usually higher in their Realistic, Investigative, and Conventional interests.

Civil Engineers typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Civil Engineers typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Civil Engineers typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Civil Engineer tend to value Independence, Working Conditions, and Recognition.

Most importantly, Civil Engineers very strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Second, Civil Engineers strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Civil Engineers strongly value Recognition. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Civil Engineers must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, dependability, and attention to detail.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Civil Engineers, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Initiative
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

What education and training do Civil Engineers need?

Many Civil Engineers will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Civil Engineers usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Civil Engineers

  • 0.5% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 2.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 4.9% completed some college coursework
  • 4.2% earned a Associate's degree
  • 57.7% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 25.6% earned a Master's degree
  • 4.4% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Civil Engineers

Civil Engineers may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as design, engineering and technology, or building and construction knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Civil Engineers might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Design
Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Building and Construction
Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Physics
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

Important Abilities needed by Civil Engineers

Civil Engineers must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Civil Engineers need abilities such as inductive reasoning, oral comprehension, and written comprehension in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Civil Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Civil Engineers

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Civil Engineers frequently use skills like active listening, critical thinking, and mathematics to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Civil Engineers, ranked by their relative importance.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Mathematics
Using mathematics to solve problems.
Complex Problem Solving
Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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