What Factors Affect a Civil Engineer's Salary?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2019
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Civil engineers preside over public works projects and design structures such as buildings, bridges, roads and power plants. A variety of factors can impact a civil engineer's salary; these include the individual's specific work responsibilities, education level, prior experience and geographical location. Many civil engineers are employed by municipalities or government agencies while others are employed in the private sector. In many countries, government employees are typically paid different hourly rates than employees of private companies. Regardless of the individual's qualifications, a civil engineer's salary may depend in part on whether he or she is employed by a government agency.

Typically, engineers have successfully completed undergraduate engineering degrees, although in some nations people who lack such academic credentials can transition into engineering jobs after spending several years working in supporting roles. Some colleges offer advanced degree programs during which students are specifically prepared for work as civil engineers. In other instances, engineering graduates enroll in short-term vocational classes during which they are familiarized with civil engineering techniques and practices. Given the range of academic credentials that engineers possess, a civil engineer's salary is unsurprisingly partly based upon each individual's education level.


Major construction projects often require the involvement of multiple engineers but these individuals are normally presided over by a senior engineer who is responsible for managing the project as a whole. In some instances, groups of engineers handle different aspects of the construction process and each of these groups is headed by a senior engineer. Therefore, a civil engineer's salary is based in part upon the individual's specific job responsibilities. Additionally, some engineers are hired on a contractual basis in which case the employee's wages are dependent upon the length and the complexity of the project.

The cost of living varies in different parts of the world and this can have both a direct and an indirect impact on a civil engineer's salary level. Most employers adjust wage levels to reflect local living costs, which means that an employee working in an area that has above average housing costs may be paid more than someone who works in a low-cost area. Many civil engineers are employed by municipal government agencies and these entities are funded with tax revenues. Typically, revenues are lower in areas where income levels and housing prices fall below the national average. Government agencies that receive minimal levels of tax revenue have less cash to cover staff salaries, while government agencies that have surplus cash are more likely to pay higher than average wages to engineers and other government employees.



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