Civil Engineering: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

If you've traveled on a road, crossed over a bridge, or stepped inside a building, you've used something designed by a civil engineer. Read this lesson to find out more about one of the oldest types of engineering.

Fun and Practical

Are you the daring type who likes tall, fast water slides, or do you prefer the short, slow ones? Either way, they wouldn't be much fun without water flowing down them, would they? We have civil engineers to thank for figuring out how to get the right amount of water to flow down a water slide so we can ride them safely and without getting stuck.

Civil engineering is a profession in which one designs and oversees the building of public structures used in everyday life. Whether civil engineers work for a private company or a government agency, they all help keep our lives safe and running smoothly.

A civil engineer figured out how to get people safely down a water slide.
picture of a water slide

How to Become a Civil Engineer

Do you like math, science and finding solutions to problems? This occupation requires a strong background in math and science because it involves physics, formulas, and equations. English and computer classes are also essential because civil engineers write reports and use computers to do their work.

All civil engineers must have a bachelor's degree, a four-year degree, from a college or university. In order to be licensed by the state they're working in, they also have to have work experience and pass a test.

What Do Civil Engineers Do?

Generally, civil engineers design structures used for transportation, buildings, or water supply. Let's take a closer look at each of these categories.


Have you ever been in a traffic jam? It may have been caused by too many cars being on the road at once, or an accident. Civil engineers design roads so that traffic jams can be avoided. They look for the safest, most efficient way to get cars from place to place.

What if a mountain or body of water is right in the middle of where a road needs to be built? Civil engineers solve this problem by designing tunnels and bridges to go over, through, and sometimes even under the obstacle.

Civil engineers design roads to keep traffic flowing.
diagram of a road design


When companies or government agencies want to build a new neighborhood, building, or skyscraper, they depend on civil engineers to develop a plan to make sure the structure remains standing for many years. They determine what kind of foundation the structure needs to be set on and what kind of materials should be used. Civil engineers know a lot about concrete, steel, and asphalt.

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