Civil engineers plan and design bridges and tunnels, as well as highways, airfields, harbors, water and sewage systems, and buildings throughout their career. They also supervise the construction of such projects to ensure that they are built according to carefully drafted plans. Civil engineers are employed by all levels of government, by construction companies, and by engineering and architectural firms. Some civil engineers do independent consulting work. Others work for public utility companies or in the iron and steel industry. Still other civil engineers teach at colleges and universities.
Civil engineering is such a broad and varied field that most engineers specialize in one area. Some of the main specializations include structural, construction, hydraulics, sanitary, environmental, transportation, and soil mechanics engineering.
Structural engineers are experts in building structures safely and efficiently. They work with architects to design large buildings, bridges, and tunnels. Construction engineers supervise the actual construction of projects once they are designed. They decide on the best materials and methods to use in building such structures as skyscrapers. Civil engineers who work in hydraulics design canals, flood-control systems, and irrigation systems. They study water sources and try to develop ways of using water that will benefit the community. For example, a hydraulic engineer might design a dam in a river to create a reservoir to safeguard the water supply of an area.
Civil engineers work with architects, other engineers, and construction personnel. These professionals often bring their specialized talents together to work on urban planning projects. Civil engineers must be accurate and consider the safety of the thousands of people who will use the structures they design and build.
Civil engineers work in an intellectually demanding field that requires a strong aptitude for mathematics and the physical sciences. They need the ability to think logically and creatively to be successful. They must be able to communicate well, both verbally and in writing.
A bachelor's degree in civil engineering from an accredited school is essential to enter the field. Many colleges offer four- or five-year engineering programs that include courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, circuitry, stress analysis, and structural design. Social sciences and humanities classes are usually required as well. Some colleges offer cooperative programs in which students divide their time between classes and work experience. Those who want careers in research, development, or teaching will need a graduate degree. Some companies help pay students' tuition.
Civil engineering jobs include registered civil engineer, construction engineer, senior civil technician, entry level site/civil engineer, civil engineer geotechnical, structural engineer, concrete engineer, pavement engineer, professional engineer, electrical engineer, traffic engineer, project engineer, project manager, and bridge design engineer.