Job description

A civil engineer will apply physical and scientific principles to plan, design, construct, maintain, operate and supervise infrastructure projects and systems. Whether it is the public or private sector, a civil engineer will work on roads, airports, bridges, tunnels and dams. This position also includes developing systems for water supply and sewage treatment.


    • Propose structures and facilities that would improve the public good, like roads and railways
    • Orchestrate the construction of buildings, irrigation projects and power plants
    • Find ways to protect the environment in which these structures are being constructed
    • Analyse survey reports, maps and a whole host of other data to properly plan projects
    • Determine construction costs, state regulations and environmental risks in the beginning stage
    • Conduct soil testing to learn if the foundation is solid and strong enough
    • Calculate cost estimates for labour, equipment, material and compliance
    • Utilise design software to facilitate the project
    • Present findings to clients or the general public on everything related to the initiative
    • Complete and submit permit applications to federal, state or local government
    • Test building materials, such as cement, steel and asphalt, to judge durability
    • Oversee maintenance, repairs and replacements of infrastructure
    • Monitor safety procedures to ensure projects comply with corporate or government policy

Skills and qualities

Attention to detail
Critical thinking
Time management

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

As civil engineers start out and work to receive their Professional Engineering (PE) licence, these professionals will begin their careers completing entry-level work, mainly compiling data, crunching numbers and writing reports. With experience and licensing, civil engineers can assume more responsibilities in public and private projects. Many civil engineers move into senior or managerial positions as they gather ample experience.

Working conditions

Average hours

50h/ week

Typical schedule

Full Time

Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally

A civil engineer will work full time, but schedules can exceed 40 hours. Many civil engineers will clock in as many as 50 hours and could work nights, weekends and holidays to monitor the project’s progress and to ensure it will meet its deadline and the team is meeting the rudimentary requirements.

Working conditions are generally 60/40 or 70/30: most of your working time will be spent in an office and the remainder will be on construction sites in all sorts of weather conditions to solve problems on-site.

Also, depending on the kind of firm you work for, you will oftentimes travel outside the city, state or country to work on other engineering projects or meet clients or public officials.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering

Study time

4 years

To become a civil engineer, you must first complete a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, civil engineering technology or, at the very least, a related specialty. A typical bachelor’s programme will consist of coursework in mathematics, engineering mechanics, statistics, fluid dynamics and many other related subjects. These courses will be completed in conventional classroom settings, laboratories and in the field.

If you wish to advance in civil engineering, such as to management or executive status, then a master’s degree would help you achieve this career goal. It is estimated that one-fifth of all civil engineers has a master’s degree under their belt.

A professional engineer will need to complete a series of licensing exams, including the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination, as well as a particular state’s mandates. Additionally, you will need to pass extra exams and satisfy the basic demands of a licensure board made up of professional engineers.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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