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Engineer - Civil: Overview of Civil Engineering Programs

Civil engineers require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education and job duties to see if civil engineering is the right career for you.

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If you have a strong understanding of math and science, and you'd like to create and oversee public and private sector construction projects, consider the occupation of civil engineer. These professionals hold bachelor's degrees and may need licensure in some cases, with steady employment growth expected between 2014 and 2024.

Essential Information

Civil engineers plan and build large scale construction projects ranging from roads to buildings. Within this profession, there are major specialties, including structural, transportation and water resources. During projects, civil engineers often work with other engineers, surveyors and construction workers. Civil engineering typically requires a bachelor's degree and some experience to become licensed in the field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements State license
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8%
Median Salary (2015)* $82,220

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Water Resources Engineering

Civil Engineering Program Information

Aspiring civil engineers may look to postsecondary programs that are approved by the ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. According to ABET, some state licensing boards require graduation from an accredited program.

Bachelor's Degree Programs

Most jobs in civil engineering require the minimum of a bachelor's degree. During the first two years of a program, students complete sequences in calculus and physics, in addition to other courses in the sciences like chemistry. Programs may also include introductory engineering courses that provide an overview of the engineering program and introduces students to disciplines and basic concepts within the field.

As students advance in the major, they take courses in structures and materials. This may include topics ranging from developing structural designs to testing the strength of materials. Students in a concentration area, such as structural or transportation engineering, may complete technical courses in which they analyze materials like concrete, steel and asphalt. The capstone requirement is generally a senior design course, which allows students to create an original concept and present it.

Many students perform cooperative internships during the summer to gain work experience. Additionally, programs generally have job fairs or engineering career offices where students can meet employers and find internship opportunities. Some programs have course requirements or require evaluations from the student and the employer.

Graduate Education

While a graduate degree isn't required to enter the profession, they may help with career advancement or be preferred for some positions. Students may choose specialty concentrations in fields such as geotechnology, transportation engineering and construction management. These curricula include advanced coursework and research projects. Degree plans are flexible and students may design their own with help of a faculty adviser.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), projects employment opportunities for civil engineers will increase 8% between 2014 and 2024. Additionally, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for civil engineers was $82,220 in May 2015.

The occupation of civil engineering is projected to increase at about the same rate as the national average for all occupations. Though a bachelor's degree can start you on a career as a civil engineer, in order to be promoted to a senior position or to specialize in a certain area of civil engineering, you may need a graduate degree. Because some potential employers and state licensure boards may require it, pursuing an ABET-accredited bachelor's program is a wise idea.

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