Diploma programs in civil engineering are not typically offered in the United States. Instead, students might consider an associate's degree program in civil engineering technology, to prepare for engineer technician careers. Many schools offer pre-engineering programs for students who are required to complete prerequisite courses before being admitted into civil engineering programs. A bachelor's degree in civil engineering can be preparation for a career as a licensed civil engineer. Certification is offered within many sub-disciplines of the profession.
Associate's Degree Programs in 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. As engineering technicians, graduates might 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, as well as 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. 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.
Students also study core civil engineering concepts dealing with transportation systems, physical structures and natural environments. Many programs offer 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 could see 5% job growth during the 2014-2024 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). As the demand for civil engineers in general increases, more technicians are needed to assist with engineering projects. The BLS reported the median annual salaries for civil engineering technicians to be $49,260 in 2015. According to the BLS, civil engineers could experience 8% growth during the 2014-2024 decade. Their median annual salary was $82,220 in 2015, also 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 engineering, 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 internships 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.
In summary, civil engineering can be pursued at the associate's and bachelor's degree level, with certifications available in various field specializations. An associate's degree is preparation for a career as a civil engineering technician, while a bachelor's degree can prepare students to be civil engineers.