The civil engineer job description we’ll detail below includes the duties, skills, job prospects, working hours, and more, associated with working as a civil engineer. Civil engineers handle a wide variety of duties associated with building structures of all kinds. They plan, build, and maintain these projects with a combination of planning and design in the office and management on-site.
Job Overview: What Does A Civil Engineer Do?
Civil engineers are in charge of many different aspects of construction projects, and often such a project will have multiple engineers working on it. They spend most of their time on job sites, overseeing work and making sure things go according to plan, as well as in accordance with building codes and ordinances.
The civil engineer job description includes duties such as creating plans, calculating costs and completion times, testing materials and environmental impact, negotiating with government regulators, modeling parts of the project with software, and interacting with architects, suppliers, and workers to make sure everything stays on track. They need a highly technical education, but are rewarded with a good pay and excellent job prospects.
Civil Engineer Job Duties
- Use multiple sources of data and site analysis to create a plan for a project, including cost and completion date estimates.
- Present the plan to government authorities for approval and compliance.
- Acquire materials and labor at a balance of cost, quality, and reliability, and according to industry standards.
- Oversee the project for any potential problems and mistakes.
- Collaborate with other members of the team to complete the design and assembly of the project.
- Connect the project to any relevant infrastructure, in accordance with best practices and safety codes.
Civil Engineer Job Essential Skills
Technical skills. A civil engineer needs strong math skills and the ability to perform complex mathematical modeling of structural physics. They also need to be familiar with design and engineering software.
Collaboration skills. Civil engineers report to bosses, manage workers, and work side by side with professionals of other disciplines. That requires an ability to get along with people of different backgrounds.
Communication skills. Whether it is drawing up plans, making presentations, or relaying complex instructions, civil engineers have to be able to communicate clearly and effectively.
Becoming a Civil Engineer
The road to becoming a civil engineer begins with a civil engineering degree. Engineering takes advanced education as well as job experience, and later on more education, licensing permits specialization, and advancement for civil engineers who want to move up. Many college programs offer internships to build valuable work experience and connections.
Qualifications and Training
It is not possible to get a civil engineering job without a degree in civil engineering. More reputable college programs tend to place their graduates in higher-paying or more prestigious jobs. The process can be tough, because these programs tend to require fairly advanced math and physics courses.
Some college programs provide the opportunity to specialize in certain areas or types of civil engineering, while others are more general. After graduating from college and starting work, civil engineers have the opportunity to obtain a Professional Engineer license. This requires four years of work experience and passing two separate exams.
A Professional Engineer can take on more senior and supervisory roles, and does not need to report to superiors as much. They also tend to earn more due to their greater importance in projects, where they typically manage teams of engineers and other professionals.
Work experience is quite important for a civil engineer. It cannot replace the bachelor’s level of education, but it can make the difference between you getting a job and someone else getting it. Working on successful projects allows for greater comfort and experience with the problems engineers face, which means finding solutions faster.
It is also a requirement for the PE license that engineers have at least four years of experience, although not all civil engineers apply for that license. Work experience lets a civil engineer learn about the kind of projects he or she is interested in.
Working hours for engineers can vary. They might be asked to work late or on the weekends to meet deadlines, especially if a project is falling behind. In general, a civil engineer will work at least full time. A junior civil engineer is more likely to have to put in extra work.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
For engineers who want to move up in their careers, the clearest path is to get the PE license first. That opens up the door to the management tier. Professional Engineers can function as project managers or other types of managers. They often work on multiple projects at once, moving from one to another over the course of a day to make sure that everything is going according to plan.
Engineers with more experience can get more advanced and larger projects. They can also start to specialize more and develop expertise in a certain field, which can be both more remunerative and more rewarding. At this time, the median annual salary of a civil engineer is of $63,830.
Two emerging fields of importance for civil engineers are the growth in renewable energy projects and the increased importance of maintenance on aging bridges, highways, and other infrastructure.
Civil engineering is a career with good job prospects and high salaries, but there are plenty of barriers you can encounter in the form of tough college programs. The civil engineer job description includes planning, managing, and maintaining a construction project, which entails many different duties.
The Professional Engineer license and opportunities to specialize are the main ways to advance as a civil engineer after the first four or five years of working. Master’s degrees are also starting to grow in importance and help engineers learn new and more advanced topics.