Civil Engineer: Occupational Outlook and Career Profile

Civil engineers require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

Civil engineers plan and build construction projects from roadways to office buildings. Most engineers complete a bachelor's degree program in civil engineering that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Strong math and science skills are essential for the occupation, so significant coursework in these areas is required. Civil engineers are often required to hold a professional license, which requires meeting education and experience requirements and passing some exams.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in civil engineering
Other Requirements State licensure
Projected Job Growth 20% from 2012-2022*
Median Salary (2013) $80,770 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Occupational Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employment opportunities for civil engineers were expected to increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022 ( The bureau attributes this rise to increased infrastructure spending and population growth. As populations grow, rural and metropolitan areas will expand, and civil engineers will be needed to work on projects like roads, bridges and buildings.

Salary Outlook

The BLS notes that median annual salary for civil engineers was $80,770 as of May 2013. The mean annual salary for civil engineers was $85,640 in the same year. Civil engineers in the oil and gas extraction industry earned the highest annual average salary in this field, with an average salary of $118,790.

Career Profile

Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of municipal projects from sewage systems to apartment complexes. Using their knowledge of mathematics, science and materials, civil engineers ensure that their work meets state and federal guidelines, remains on schedule and comes in at or below budget.


Aspiring civil engineers must complete an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) bachelor's degree program in civil engineering. Students take advanced courses in mathematics and sciences including, calculus, physics and chemistry. In addition to these courses, students complete assignments on thermodynamics and structural analysis. Topics in these courses may range from measuring the foundational strength of soil to estimating the stress factors of input materials.

All states require that civil engineers providing their services to the public be licensed. Licensure requires completing an ABET-accredited bachelor's degree program, passing a qualifying exam and accruing four years of work experience. State boards may require continued education to maintain a license.

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