Growing infrastructure needs across the U.S. could mean big job opportunities for civil engineers. The American Society for Civil Engineers reports that an investment of $2.2 trillion will be needed between 2009 and 2014 to improve critical foundations like water systems, bridges and roads.
Civil engineering degrees and career paths
Professional civil engineers combine a high level of technical knowledge with skills in project management, critical thinking and reasoning. Coursework in a typical online engineering degree program includes instruction in the following standards:
- Computer-aided design software
- Map creation tools
- Building and construction
- Physics and mathematics
- Analytical software
At the associate degree level, focused technical training prepares individuals to work as civil engineering technicians. Graduates may only become fully licensed engineers with more formal training.
The bachelor's degree is the most common preparation for civil engineers today. Four years of targeted training in the tools and techniques of engineering give graduates the background they need for entry-level engineering careers.
Master's degree programs in civil engineering allow students to specialize their study, focusing on elements like structural engineering or construction engineering and management. Some entry-level research jobs require a master's degree plus licensure.
Employment outlook for civil engineering
Increased infrastructure demand could be good news for aspiring civil engineers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job opportunities for civil engineers should grow 24 percent between 2008 and 2018, adding an impressive number of new jobs--about 67,600--to the field. Civil engineers are expected to see the largest job increase of any engineering profession in the country.
Popular civil engineering occupations
The BLS reports the following as the most popular civil engineering industries in the U.S., shown with mean annual wages for 2010:
- Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services: $83,320
- State Government: $76,530
- Local Government: $81,430
- Nonresidential Building Construction: $83,590
- Federal Executive Branch: $87,020
Online degrees in civil engineering
Beyond convenience and flexibility, students can find specific benefits to earning online degrees in civil engineering. Coursework is packed with software essentials--like Autodesk AutoCAD software, Trimble Geomatics Office and Eagle Point Site Design. Training online allows students the chance to do hands-on work with these tools from anywhere with an Internet connection.
A global perspective also benefits civil engineers. The American Society for Civil Engineers states that "a world-wide perspective is essential to overcoming obstacles presented by new challenges in globalization, local and national economies, and the sustainability of our planet." Studying online gives students the opportunity to interact with peers and professionals from across the country and around the world, gaining that important global knowledge.
Civil engineering at a glance
- Employment: About 249,120 civil engineers were employed in the U.S. in 2010, making it the most popular engineering specialty.
- Popular careers: Civil engineers are most often found in architectural or engineering firms, state and local government, and building construction.
- Licensure: Many civil engineers are licensed professional engineers (PEs), which requires four years of work experience, an ABET-accredited engineering degree and a state examination.