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Civil Engineers Career

Career Description

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 Job Titles Civil Engineers Might Have

  • Bridge/Structure Inspection Team Leader
  • County Engineer
  • Railroad Design Consultant
  • Structural Engineer

What Civil Engineers Do

  • 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.
  • Provide technical advice to industrial or managerial personnel regarding design, construction, or program modifications or structural repairs.
  • 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.
  • Direct or participate in surveying to lay out installations or establish reference points, grades, or elevations to guide construction.
  • Estimate quantities and cost of materials, equipment, or labor to determine project feasibility.
  • Plan and design transportation or hydraulic systems or structures using computer assisted design or drawing tools.
  • 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.
  • Identify environmental risks and develop risk management strategies for civil engineering projects.
  • Direct engineering activities ensuring compliance with environmental, safety, or other governmental regulations.
  • Analyze survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photography, or other topographical or geologic data.
  • Conduct studies of traffic patterns or environmental conditions to identify engineering problems and assess potential project impact.
  • Design or engineer systems to efficiently dispose of chemical, biological, or other toxic wastes.
  • Develop or implement engineering solutions to clean up industrial accidents or other contaminated sites.
  • Analyze manufacturing processes or byproducts to identify engineering solutions to minimize the output of carbon or other pollutants.

What Civil Engineers Should Be Good At

  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

What Civil Engineers Should Be Interested In

  • Realistic - 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.
  • Investigative - 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.

What Civil Engineers Need to Learn

  • 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.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • 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.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Economics and Accounting - Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Leaf iconThis career is a green occupation.
Sun iconThis career has a bright outlook.
Median Salary: $83,540

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.