What are the Different Types of Jobs in Civil Engineering?

Jeffrey L. Callicott

There are many types of jobs in civil engineering. Examples include jobs in highway design, structural engineering, geotechnical design, utility design, surveying and landscaping. Other civil engineering jobs include those involved in site planning, construction management and estimating.

There are numerous sub-fields of railroad engineering, including energy electrification, systems engineering, rail systems integration, and others.
There are numerous sub-fields of railroad engineering, including energy electrification, systems engineering, rail systems integration, and others.

Civil engineering frequently involves the movement of large amounts of people, money or both. It also tends to consist of work on a large scale; the biggest construction projects in the world are usually products of civil engineering. As a result, national and regional governments, cities and other governmental agencies are the typical sources of funding for civil development. Jobs in civil engineering are thus likely to be diverse in their challenges and have consistently available work. Although a civil engineer can expect to make an income that is considered above average, the rate of pay typically is lower than that in most other engineering fields.

An aspiring highway engineer needs to have advanced math skills and study civil engineering in college.
An aspiring highway engineer needs to have advanced math skills and study civil engineering in college.

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There are several disciplines of civil engineering and occupations related to each. Many of these jobs provide systems used daily by hundreds of millions of people. For instance, transportation engineers design some of the world’s most commonly used infrastructure. They design highways, railroads and airports, and they sometimes do consulting as planners or constructability reviewers.

Some civil engineers specialize in a single area, such as tunnel building.
Some civil engineers specialize in a single area, such as tunnel building.

There are other jobs in civil engineering related to transportation design. Water and wastewater engineers deal with the control of water through on-site and off-site drainage design, hydrology and floodplain management. Urban planners usually incorporate transportation and drainage engineering as well as utility layout and design.

Many civil engineering jobs require research, review and analyzation of information before a project can begin.
Many civil engineering jobs require research, review and analyzation of information before a project can begin.

Other jobs in civil engineering do not directly control the infrastructure used by humans, but rather the manipulation of the environment surrounding such facilities. For example, before a housing development is built, a planner will design the site grading and determine the number of lots given the physical constraints of the area. Similarly, a landscape architect will have visualized the layout of plants and other natural elements before a building is ever erected. Both of these civil engineering professionals sometimes require the assistance of a geotechnical engineer in order to study the soils in the area.

Some civil engineers become construction consultants.
Some civil engineers become construction consultants.

All civil design eventually reaches the construction phase, and this is yet another discipline providing many jobs in civil engineering. To build a project requires review regarding whether it can be built, how the construction will be performed and the cost in terms of money and manpower. These needs result in civil engineering employment for construction consultants, project managers and construction estimators.

Several key skills will benefit a person aspiring to an occupation in civil engineering. Strength in math, the capacity to visualize in three dimensions and the ability to communicate technical ideas will aid a candidate in most engineering fields. A job seeker looking for a civil engineering career, however, should also have a desire to improve the ways in which humans interact with the world. Civil engineering always strives for innovative, more efficient infrastructure — and where possible, a reduction in the human impact on the planet. The unique challenges presented by the needs of serving millions of people, coupled with consistent worldwide demand for human development, means that the civil engineering field is likely to provide many jobs into the future.

Civil engineers are responsible for overseeing all of the operations that are required to complete engineering projects.
Civil engineers are responsible for overseeing all of the operations that are required to complete engineering projects.

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