Careers with a Civil Engineering Degree


Of course it’s common knowledge that with this degree, you can become a civil engineer. But what exactly does that mean? And is there anything else you can do with this degree?


A career as a civil engineer

This career can take so many different forms. For example, depending on your interests and ambitions, you could be involved in the planning, design and construction of such public works projects as airports, highways, dams and power projects, water supply and waste disposal systems, bridges, harbors, industrial facilities, among many others.


The field of civil engineering has also expanded in recent years to include such functions as dealing with issues in city planning, transportation and in some cases biomedical projects.


Other career options

And of course, you'll have other career options. The skills, knowledge and competencies that you can acquire through your coursework and co-op work terms can be applied to careers both in the field of civil engineering, as well as careers indirectly related to it, and those that aren’t related to your degree at all! After all, an education in this field can teach you so many employable skills.


So, if you’d like to know more about where a civil engineer degree can take you, read on below. This career guide contains detailed occupational information on occupational paths relevant to your education. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these careers.





What You'll Learn in School

The typical curriculum for these programs is academically rigorous, and focuses on enabling you to examine the theoretical foundations of engineering and design topics.


Civil engineering programs stress engineering fundamentals, while also teaching skills that are applicable to various careers in the field, such as graphical, written and oral communication skills. In fact, some programs devote a significant amount of time to hands-on training in material testing, surveying, manual and computer-aided drafting, as well as instruction in the use of various engineering software tools.


As a student, you will be given many opportunities for practical application of your knowledge through course assignments and project work. To further develop professional skills for civil engineering careers, civil engineering degree programs include co-op work terms of varying duration.



Career Path Guides by Occupation

The knowledge and skills you can gain as a student of civil engineering serve as an excellent foundation for a variety of careers, including (but not limited to):

• Aerospace Engineer

• Agricultural Engineer

• Aircraft Performance Engineer

• Blogger

• Building Inspector

• Building Services Engineer

• Cartographer

• Civil Engineer

• Civil Engineering Technologist

• Concrete Engineer

• Construction Manager

• Consumer Advocate

• Cost Estimator

• Design Engineer

• Development Permit Technician

• Drafting Technician

• Energy Researcher

• Entrepreneur

• Environmental Engineer

• Environmental Engineering Technician

• Forest Engineer

• Geotechnical Engineer

• Hazardous Waste Technologist

• Hydraulics Engineer

• Hydro Engineer

• Hydrographer

• Hydrologist

• Industrial Engineer

• Infrastructure Engineer

• International Aid Worker

• Map Editor

• Materials Engineer

• Mayor

• Military Engineer

• Military Officer

• Natural Resources Manager

• Oceanographer

• Patent Agent

• Plant Engineer

• Product Development Engineer

• Production Engineer

• Project Manager

• Public Works Supervisor

• Real Estate Developer

• Research Engineer

• Site Engineer

• Structural Engineer

• Sustainable Housing Policy Associate

• Test Engineer

• Traffic Engineer

• Transportation Engineer

• Transportation Planner

• University Professor

• Urban Planning Technician

• Water Resources Engineer

• Zoning Inspector


Please Note: Some of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.



Who Employs Graduates?

Common employers include government agencies (local, provincial/state or federal), private industry or engineering consulting firms.


Local, Provincial/State and Federal Government

Government agencies are responsible for designing, building and maintaining the infrastructure of towns, cities, regions and countries. Civil engineers employed by government agencies are primarily involved in the planning, design, construction and improvement of such engineering works as bridges, airports, highways, mass transit systems, power projects, water supply and waste disposal systems.


Architectural, Surveying, Engineering and Related Services

Architectural, Surveying, Engineering and related services are businesses that are contracted by government agencies to design and construct a variety of civil infrastructure projects. These employers can be found in a variety of industries, including architectural, landscape architectural, engineering and drafting, building inspection, geophysical surveying and mapping services.


Specialized Industries

Civil engineers are also hired by organizations in specialized industries. For example, organizations in the oil and gas extraction industry often hire civil engineers to assist in the design and oversight of construction of oil and gas extraction and refinement facilities. Pipeline transportation is another industry that employs the abilities of civil engineers. They are often hired to design piping and distribution routes for natural gas and other sources of energy.





Examples of Civil Engineering Coursework

Is a civil engineering career in your future? You’ll have to make it through school first! And the only way to do that, is to have an interest in the coursework.


The following is a list of courses you may study in such a program, and is only meant to provide examples of possible course titles. If these titles spark some interest, you’re on your way to a career in this field…


• Applied Hydrology

• Chemistry for Civil Engineering

• Closed Conduit Hydraulics

• Computer Aided Drafting

• Concrete Technology

• Differential Calculus for Civil Engineering

• Geotechnical Analysis

• Graphical Communication

• Introduction to Civil Engineering

• Land Development Modeling

• Linear Algebra for Civil Engineering

• Mechanics of Materials

• Physics for Civil Engineering

• Road Design

• Soil Mechanics

• Subdivision Design

• Surveying for Civil Engineering

• Timber and Steel Design



Civil Engineering Graduate Salary Figures

The salary level you could earn can vary quite a bit, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education (bachelor’s, graduate etc.)

• Whether or not you end up working in civil engineering

• If you achieve a professional designation (such as PE)

• The amount of work experience you’ve accumulated

• The size and type of your employer

• The industry in which you find work

• The region in which you find work


That’s a lot of factors that can influence your earnings. To make it easier to determine what you could earn, let’s just look at the average salary level of a civil engineer.


Alberta: According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Civil Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $92,054 per year.


United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Civil Engineers occupational group is $79,340 per year.






Relevant Scholarships

If you’re looking for help to paying for tuition, then you’re in luck; our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to civil engineering as well as scholarships that are open to any field of study!

Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Professional Associations

To find out more about careers directly related to your civil engineering degree, consult the following student and professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.



Canadian Federation of Engineering Students

Canadian Society for Civil Engineering

Engineers Canada

The Canadian Academy of Engineering

The Engineering Institute of Canada


United States

American Society of Civil Engineers

Institute of Transportation Engineers

National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering



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