After military engineering, civil engineering is the oldest specialty in engineering. What separates civil engineers is that they work on both natural and man-made structures. They also work on infrastructure-like dams, roads, wastewater, and bridges.
Civil engineers have a massive responsibility when it comes to their projects. They are responsible for designing, planning, and constructing airports, tunnels, bridges, roads, dams, water supply, sewage systems, etc. They also have to ensure that all projects are built to withstand all kinds of natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. as well as projecting the life expectancy, repairs and upkeep costs, and keeping all construction within government regulations and laws.
Like any engineering degree, there is going to be a heavy emphasis in both math and science. There are a number of classes students must take that vary by school but some that students can expect can be but are not limited to:
There are more than 3,100 ABET (Accrediting Board of Engineering and Technologies) programs in more than 600 colleges worldwide, so there are many options to find the right fit for any student interested in being a civil engineer. Aside from a heavy emphasis in math, physics, and building materials, students should also expect a lot of work in environmental sciences because civil engineers will need to take environmental management into consideration with virtually every project. Organization and attention to detail are two skills that are vital to any civil engineer especially since government regulations and laws are aspects of construction that civil engineers are expected to have a special knowledge of. These regulations and laws can be very tedious and complex so students should get in the habit of examining all regulations for any hypothetical project they work on in school.
As with most engineering programs, a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering can be completed in four years but more and more students are taking between four and five years to complete their degrees.
The programs offered range from Associate’s degree all the way up to a Doctorate degree in civil engineering. Students can also select focuses in civil engineering when working on their Bachelor’s degree like a focus in: concrete industry management, environmental engineering, general building construction, building surveying, heavy construction, residential construction, property planning and development, and many others.
A civil engineer gets to work on public works projects that can help employ and service the surrounding population while taking into consideration the environmental impact of each structure. Examples of these projects are:
Job opportunities for civil engineers are booming. The growth rate over the next decade is projected to be 24 percent which the Bureau of Labor statistics rates as faster than average for all occupations.
As our country’s infrastructure gets older, civil engineers will be needed to repair and upgrade existing structures as well as build new systems and structures to accommodate growing populations. The median income of a civil engineer as of May 2008 was $74,600.