Become a Civil Engineering Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Aug 06, 2018

Research the requirements to become a civil engineering technician. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in civil engineering.

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  • 0:03 Civil Engineering…
  • 1:00 Complete Formal Education
  • 2:23 Get Industry Experience
  • 3:15 Pursue Certification

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Civil Engineering Technician Basics

Civil engineering technicians assist with the design and construction of highways, buildings, and other infrastructures. They take measurements, estimate costs for building materials, and draft design schematics. They also often survey possible construction sites and report their findings to a supervisor. These professionals perform a great deal of work in the field and should be comfortable working outdoors.

Degree Level Associate's degree preferred; certificate or diploma might substitute
Degree Field Civil engineering technology, engineering technology, or related field
Certification Voluntary professional certification options are available
Experience Experience in civil design required for some positions
Key Skills Reading, math, critical-thinking, problem-solving, writing and monitoring skills; ability to use computer-aided design (CAD), map creation and graphics software; ability to use engineering tools, such as soil core sampling apparatuses and cement testing instruments
Mean Salary (2015)* $51,330

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job postings from employers (September 2012), O*Net OnLine

Let's explore the steps required to enter this career…

Step 1: Complete Formal Education

Most employers prefer to hire technicians with at least an associate's degree in civil engineering technology or a related field. These programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in drafting, cost estimating, soil mechanics, construction methods, building materials, physics, surveying, and technical report writing.

Students also can find relevant certificate or diploma programs at vocational and technical schools. These programs take less time to complete than an associate's degree and usually cover topics like construction and project management. Technical skills obtained from military service can also provide suitable training in the use of engineering equipment and software, and on-the-job training can sometimes compensate for lack of a formal degree.

Success Tips:

  • Study design. Employers typically look for prospective technicians with some design experience. Technicians with design software skills will have the best job prospects.

  • Look for accredited programs. Some employers seek applicants with an associate's degree from an ABET-accredited program. According to the organization's website in 2016, there were around 25 accredited associate degree programs in civil engineering technology nationwide.

Step 2: Get Industry Experience

Engineering technicians work in a variety of industries, including research and development, construction, and manufacturing. They usually work alongside engineers or other professionals, such as construction managers, and help solve technical issues or maintain mechanical, electrical, or electronic equipment.

Civil engineering technicians work on public infrastructure projects such as bridges, highways, dams, and buildings. Other projects may include working on wastewater treatment systems, land surveying, or traffic-monitoring systems.

Success Tip:

  • Participate in an internship program. On-the-job training is one benefit of an internship program. Internships might be available with local construction companies or city planning offices. They can help build the necessary experience for entry-level technician jobs.

Step 3: Pursue Certification

Pursuing voluntary certification might help technicians with career advancement. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies offers certification options in a variety of specialty areas, such as land management and water control, building construction, and construction materials testing.

To recap, a civil engineering technician typically needs an associate's degree in civil engineering technology or a related field. Voluntary certification could improve one's prospects in this field.

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