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Civil Engineering Certification and Diploma Programs

Civil engineering deals with the built environment, including buildings, bridges, roads and airports. Associate's degree programs in civil engineering technology and bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering are available.

Essential Information

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.

  • Prerequisites: For an associate's degree program: High school diploma or equivalent. For a bachelor's degree program: A high school diploma or equivalent. 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 Length: An associate's degree program usually takes two years. A bachelor's degree program usually takes four years.

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.

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 fluid mechanics, calculus and route surveying in addition to the following:

  • Computer-aided drawing
  • Materials strength
  • Hydraulics and hydrology
  • Topographic drawing

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.

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 structural design and soil engineering in addition to the following:

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

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Civil engineering technicians should see 1% job growth during the 2012-2022 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). 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 $48,340 in 2014.

According to the BLS, the civil engineering field should experience 11% growth during the 2012-2022 decade. The median annual salary for civil engineers was $82,050 in 2014, according to the BLS.

Licensing, 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.

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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