Posted By: Brightwood Engineering Education
Updated: August 18, 2017
Bridges, roads, dams, canals—each of these is a landmark in its own way, and each is built through the efforts of a civil engineer. Civil engineers have a unique opportunity to build structures that allow them to leave their mark on the world. Here are five of the top reasons to become a civil engineer.
Like many engineering professions, civil engineers can find opportunities in varied fields, including energy (designing oil rigs or wind farms), bridges, geotechnical (developing plans for soil testing), and environmental (creating pollution remediation systems). Many civil engineers spend time outdoors at construction sites in order to monitor operations onsite. Civil engineers are often seen as jacks-of-all-trades because they need to possess a wide variety of engineering knowledge. They are on the ground floor of projects as diverse as skyscrapers, railways, and stadiums. Because even the most straightforward project requires thousands of decisions that can have hundreds of unknown implications, a civil engineer must have the background to certify that the project will be sound, operational, and resilient. Both the public and private sectors have opportunities for civil engineers.
As the infrastructure of the United States and other developed countries continues to age, civil engineers are vital for managing projects to rebuild bridges, repair roads, upgrade levees and dams, and maintain airports and other buildings. State and local government work regarding water availability and quality will likely lead to future civil engineering projects concerned with making water use more efficient. For developing nations, civil engineers play a critical role in meeting demands for energy, transportation, waste disposal, earth moving, environmental cleanup, telecommunication, and infrastructure.
According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers earn median annual pay of $82,220. The job outlook is for average growth of 8 percent between 2014 and 2024. A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering is generally required, and many civil engineers obtain graduate degrees and licensure for promotion to senior positions.
Civil engineers are instrumental during emergencies such as droughts or natural disasters. They have the skill set and talents necessary to rebuild the community infrastructure. Civil engineers have the ability to pay exceptional attention to details, while at the same time understanding “the big picture.” However, they must also strike a balance in order to be sensitive to local and environmental challenges, as well as to the requirements of different construction project participants.
Civil engineers encounter projects with unique challenges and requirements. They may need to incorporate materials in new ways, improve workflows to gain greater efficiencies, or adapt to increasing demands from technological advancements, population growth, or the environment. They need to address these issues with creative problem-solving skills. As part of their strategic portfolio of "tools," civil engineers use gadgets and software that the general public may have never heard of or used. For example, civil engineers employ advanced analytical engineering models that use the latest technological advances to enable networking and collaborative engineering design.
Civil engineering appeals to engineers who want to work on projects with high visibility in the community. They enjoy working as part of a group and often work closely with developers, local jurisdictions, and a team of engineers. While reaching consensus and respecting other's work styles is a big part of this job, there is a one-on-one component when working directly with communities to reach development goals. For many, the feeling of helping a neighborhood become a better place to live is one of the biggest rewards of being a civil engineer.
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