Advancement Opportunities for Civil Engineers

Jul 13, 2018

Civil engineers maintain and develop infrastructure. After working as a civil engineer, professionals may advance by specializing in an area of civil engineering, planning development projects as an urban planner, or managing other engineers.

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Career Growth Opportunities for Civil Engineers

Civil engineers are responsible for building and maintaining infrastructure projects for both public and private enterprises. After working in entry-level positions in this field, civil engineers may wish to advance their careers. They may consider specializing in areas of civil engineering, such as geotechnical engineering or utility engineering. Some civil engineers may wish to take a broader view of development and planning, and advance to a role as an urban planner. Others may take on administrative responsibilities as an architectural or engineering manager. Details about these professions is provided below.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2016-2026)** Education
Geotechnical Engineer $65,311 (2018)** 11% (civil engineers) Diplomate preferred; bachelor's and master's degrees are prerequisites
Utility Engineer $72,522 (2018)** 11% (civil engineers) Bachelor's degree
Urban and Regional Planners $71,490 (2017)* 13% Master's degree
Architectural and Engineering Managers $137,720 (2017)* 6% Master's degree preferred

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale

Career Information

Geotechnical Engineer

Civil engineers must have a solid understanding of the structural foundations of the earth so as to prepare to build various structures. Geotechnical engineering is a specialty of civil engineering that focuses on how soil and rocks behave in the subsurface environment. This helps to determine what will occur when construction occurs on the surface. Geotechnical engineers also work to identify hazards in the soil, such as the potential for landslides. Engineers who hold bachelor's and master's degrees and who are focused in geotechnical engineering may obtain a diplomate in geotechnical engineering through the Academy of Geoprofessionals. Requirements include a license to practice professional engineering, eight years of experience in the geotechnical specialty, and an oral defense of the application.

Utility Engineers

Civil engineers understand the importance of infrastructure in the provision of services to the community. Utility engineers are specialized civil engineers that work for utility companies that provide power, water, and other public services. Utility engineers design the plans for the provision of these services, and work to identify the cause of failures of the systems. They may be responsible for any construction projects that occur to support the public utility. Utility engineers typically hold a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.

Urban and Regional Planners

Civil engineers review long-range plans to properly conduct their engineering work. Those that are interested in working to develop those plans might consider moving into a role as an urban and regional planner. These professionals review data from surveys and environmental studies, and they use patterns to make plans regarding the development of land. They work to increase sustainable development within communities. Urban planners must be familiar with a range of regulations, including zoning and environmental laws. To become an urban and regional planner, candidates must have a master's degree in planning. Certification is available through the American Planning Association.

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Some civil engineers may wish to take a leadership role within the field. These professionals may qualify for positions as architectural and engineering managers. An architectural and engineering manager reviews plans for the completion of a project and determines what equipment and staff will be necessary to fulfill the plans within the confines of a specific budget. They ensure that the work completed by other engineers on staff is accurate and correct. They frequently confer with clients and with upper management. Most employers prefer candidates with a Master's in Engineering Management or a Master of Business Administration designation. Extensive experience in the engineering field is also required.

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