Civil Engineering Certification and Diploma Programs

This article emphasizes civil engineering degree programs and certification information; diploma programs are not typically available. Read below for program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

Essential Information

Civil engineering deals with the built environment, including buildings, bridges, roads and airports. Diploma programs in civil engineering are not typically offered in the U.S. Instead, students might consider an associate's degree program in civil engineering technology, which could prepare them for careers in which they could assist engineers. A bachelor's degree in civil engineering might prepare them for careers as licensed civil engineers. Certification is offered within many sub-disciplines of the profession.

Associate's Degree Programs in Civil Engineering Technology

Associate's degree programs in civil engineering technology are typically 2-year programs leading to a degree, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Technology. Students are prepared for careers as engineering technicians, where they assist licensed engineers on construction and development projects. A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admission.

Program Coursework

Students learn principles of civil engineering, including structural principles, material properties and environmental factors, and technical skills, such as surveying and drafting. Topics of study include:

  • Calculus
  • Computer-aided drawing
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Materials strength
  • Route surveying
  • Hydraulics and hydrology
  • Topographic drawing

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Civil engineering technicians should see average job growth during the 2010-2020 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( As the demand for civil engineers in general increases, more technicians are needed to assist with engineering projects. The BLS reported median annual salaries for civil engineering technicians of $47,560 in 2012.

Certification and Continuing Education

The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies offers certification for civil engineering technicians. Certifications are offered in several sub-specialty categories, including the areas of building construction, land management and water control, geotechnical and transportation. Other professional organizations, such as the American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians, provide opportunities for continuing education.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Civil Engineering

Bachelor's degree programs in this field, typically leading to a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, are 4-year programs which prepare students for careers as licensed engineers who work with the built environment. The curriculum draws upon math and physical science as well as the social sciences and humanities. Graduates are prepared for careers in construction, industry, research or government work.

Educational Requirements

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admission to engineering programs. Many schools offer pre-engineering programs for all students admitted into the school; students may be required to complete prerequisite courses before being admitted into the civil engineering program. High school coursework in calculus, physics and chemistry is helpful.

Program Coursework

The curriculum covers core civil engineering concepts dealing with transportation systems, physical structures and natural environments. Many programs offer students the opportunity to pursue a concentration or sub-specialty, such as environmental engineering, water resources engineering or transportation. Course topics include:

  • Mechanics of materials
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Structural design
  • Soil engineering
  • Hydrology and hydraulics
  • Transportation engineering
  • Environmental engineering

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, the civil engineering field should experience average job growth during the 2010-2020 decade. The median annual salary for civil engineers was $79,340 in 2012, according to the BLS.

Licensing, Certification and Continuing Education

All states require civil engineers to be licensed before offering services directly to the public. Graduates of civil engineering programs need to gain relevant work experience, either through internship or by working as assistants, before they are eligible for licensure. Two exams are also required for licensing. The initial Fundamentals of Engineering examination can be taken immediately after graduation. The Principles and Practice of Engineering exam can be taken after completing the required work experience. Certification for civil engineers is offered in several of the sub-specialty areas within the field. For example, the American Academy of Water Resources Engineers and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers both offer certifications in those two specialized fields, respectively. The American Society of Civil Engineers provides additional information about available certifications.

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