Civil engineers

Civil engineers, like other categories of engineers, employ their skills to make things happen. In general, civil engineers plan, build, and maintain facilities and structures, but they can be involved in only a specific aspect of that work. Their work often centers around the improvement of infrastructure and the creation of useful structures. Bridges, dams, highways, airports, and different types of buildings all fall within the purview of civil engineers. They can be employed by private companies or organizations, or by the federal government. There are also several specialties within the civil engineering field that they can choose to work in, depending on the type of projects they want to work on. Some focus on structures and infrastructure used for transportation, while others may choose to oversee the construction processes for buildings.

They have a range of skills and duties that permit them to work in different areas related to the projects; they may lead construction projects, but they also serve as advisors, teachers, and researchers in their field.

Responsibilities may include:

  • Designing new facilities or planning how to renovate and upgrade old ones.
  • Inspecting facilities to determine whether construction and/or maintenance follows the designs and blueprints
  • Ensuring operations adhere to all codes and regulations
  • Supervising the construction of buildings and structures
  • Managing and working with other engineers, engineering technicians, and others involved with the construction repair
  • Providing projections for the funds and materials needed to complete the project.
  • Writing and presenting reports on projects and their progress
  • Performing tests on building materials to determine their utility and appropriateness for the project


If you want to be an engineer, you have to go to school. A bachelor's degree in engineering, in a specialty either in or related to aerospace engineering, is mandatory. Some schools have organized cooperative programs so that students can get practical work experience while they pursue their degree. Internships are considered very useful and give the students a better understanding of the actual work of an aerospace engineer. Completing the bachelor's degree will open the doors for entry-level engineering work in this industry. Earning a master's degree in this field will allow the engineer to work in the research and development side of the industry.

Professional advancement for this career can be sought in different ways. Acquired work experience goes a long way, to start. Some engineers choose to become an apprentice to a more-experienced aerospace engineer, and then later apply for a Professional Engineer license. A license is not required to start work as an aerospace engineer but it is an option. A Professional Engineer license and requires work experience, a college engineering degree from an accredited institution, and passing one or more exams.

Because the government directs and fund much of the work as a part of national security and defense, jobs in those sectors will require the engineer to apply for and be awarded security clearance. The specific requirements for this will vary depending on the nature of the work and the level of clearance needed.


  • Decision-making skills Part of the work in this career involves careful analysis of proposed projects. Engineers evaluate the possibilities and necessities for a project's completion, and make informed decisions about the right way to direct action, organize work, budget funds, and other important aspects of the project.
  • Leadership skills Engineers often supervise projects and lead teams of workers to complete them. They need to understand how to direct, motivate, and advise team-members during the process.
  • Math skills. Civil engineers use math skills to collect and analyze data, and through the entire process of the project's construction.
  • Organization skills. Because they may oversee part or all of a project, involving complex plans and the work of many people, civil engineers need to be organized in order to ensure timely, accurate work.
  • Problem-solving skills. No matter how well you plan before you start, problems always arise once the work begins. Civil engineers put their skills to use to tackle issues and resolve problems that interfere with the success of the project.

Job Outlook

Job growth for civil engineers is expected to grow noticeably faster than the average national growth rate or all occupations. As critical infrastructure ages, it requires maintenance, repair, and replacement. While public works projects have been underfunded due to a poor economy, many of the facilities and structures are necessary and will eventually require attention. Additionally, new work will be commissioned that focuses on renewable energy. 

  Occupation Description Entry-Level Education 2012 Median Pay
Architects Architects

Professional architects need professional degrees-- a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree is the most direct common choice for students without any prior experience or education in architecture. Degrees from recommended accredited schools involve courses in a wide array of disciplines beyond just math and science-artist skills in drawing, design, and drafting are widely useful in addition to training in computer technology and practical sciences. Schools also offer a master's degree in architecture which, although not required to earn a professional license, can provide further training and skill development

Bachelor's degree $73,090
Civil engineering technicians Civil engineering technicians

A bachelor's degree in an engineering field is mandatory for this occupation. The engineering field specifically should be related to aerospace. Education for this work begins in high school-students need solid coursework in math and science. Following this, students can earn an engineering degree from an accredited college or university. Some offer five-year degrees that combine a bachelor's and a master's degree in their field.

Associate's degree $47,560
Construction managers Construction managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from development to completion.'

Bachelor's degree $82,790
Environmental engineers Environmental engineers

A bachelor's degree in engineering, either in environmental engineering or a related field, is mandatory. In high school, students can prepare by taking classes in math and science. Future engineers who want to work in the research or education sides of the field typically need a master's degree, too. Some schools offer a five-year combined program for students to earn a bachelor's and master's degree together.

Bachelor's degree $80,890
Landscape architects Landscape architects

Landscape architects must have a bachelor's degree in the field, at minimum-typically from an accredited program. Many architects go further and earn a master's degree, as well, and some graduate programs are available for professionals who have a bachelor's degree in a different discipline.

Bachelor's degree $64,180
Mechanical engineers Mechanical engineers

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology in order to qualify for entire-level work in their field. Some schools offer combined bachelor's and master's degree programs and others offer extended programs that combine traditional education with practical work experience.

Bachelor's degree $80,580
Surveyors Surveyors

A bachelor's degree in surveying or a related field is usually necessary to gain employment in this occupation. However, in some states it is possible to work under a licensed surveyor with an associate's degree.

Bachelor's degree $56,230
Urban and regional planners Urban and regional planners

Urban and regional planners develop plans and programs for the use of land. Their plans help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.'

Master's degree $65,230

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