What Can You Do With a Civil Engineering Degree?

About the Author

Emma Keegan

Emma is a graduate from the University of Alabama with a degree in education and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at George Washington University for publishing. Having both taught and studied online, she has experience on both sides of online education. Emma is an avid writer who enjoys helping others by writing engaging educational content. When she’s not writing blogs or reading the newest academic studies, you’ll find her spending time with her family and her favorite cat.

When you think of civil engineering, you might picture vast bridges, underground subway stations, or gigantic dams.

While these works undoubtedly represent civil engineers, they really only capture the tip of the iceberg. 

Civil engineering is a dynamic and multifaceted field that contains specialization such as transportation, coastal, structural, environmental, constructional engineering, and much more. 

Below, we are going to give you a comprehensive view of all the doors a civil engineering degree can open for you!

What Jobs Can You Have With a Civil Engineering Degree?

There are many different options available to civil engineering degree holders, depending on your specialization:

  • Structural Engineers
  • Geotechnical Engineers
  • Environmental Engineers
  • Marine Engineers
  • Design Engineers
  • Civil Engineers
  • Water Resource Engineers
  • Engineering Managers
  • Transportation Engineers

Although many roles will be available to you with an undergraduate degree, some highly specialized roles may require further study. For all the civil engineering careers that don’t require further study, training is usually available on the job.

Read on for some insight into the types of careers open to a degree in civil engineering.

Typical Civil Engineering Careers

With a civil engineering degree, you’ll be well-positioned to pursue a high paying career in various sectors of work. These roles may be on the ground, research-based, or management roles. An overview of the most common technical areas and careers for those with a degree in civil engineering are outlined below.

Transportation

As a transportation engineer, you will design and improve infrastructure for all modes of travel. Your focus might be on improving traffic flow on roadways, constructing a safer subway system, and much more. 

Most of your day will be spent in the office using computer software programs, but you may take some trips to visit the construction site to see how the project is going. The typical day is a 9-5, but overtime might be required if you oversee a major project.

An entry-level transport engineer earns around $50,000 per year, while the highest earners make upwards of $125,000. The pay all depends on where you work, private versus public, and your experience. While you can get a civil engineering job with just an undergraduate degree, an advanced credential can help increase your pay.

With new roads and infrastructure constantly being built and revamped, this job will always be in high demand.

Coastal

Apply your engineering design and innovation skills to the coastlines and oceans as a coastal engineer. Many of your projects might involve:

  • Ocean walls
  • Jetties on the bay
  • Enforcing structures against tropical storms 
  • Wetland restoration
  • Beach nourishment

You will tackle these environmental problems through structure and design. Knowledge of marine geology and oceanography combined with civil engineering will help you create a sound design. 

As you design and implement various projects, your home base will still be in an office. Costal engineers typically spend roughly 40% of their time designing and researching. Understanding all the facets that go into a dam or jetty will allow you to create an innovative and safe idea. That other 60% of your day is split between working on the computer and visiting the site of your project.

Starting out, coastal engineers average around $60,000 per year with a chance to advance to over $100,000. 

Structural

If you choose a career in structural engineering, you might spend the majority of your time studying the physical integrity and design of projects. It is a structural engineer’s job to make sure that buildings are up to code and don’t collapse under the anticipated load. You might find yourself working on:

  • Residential buildings
  • Commercial projects
  • Storm damage

As a structural engineer, you will be analyzing maps and blueprints for errors and estimating the cost to bring your plan to life. Your advanced mathematics classes will show you how to compute load requirements and water flow rates to make sure the building will withstand any pressure. It is highly recommended that engineers have a deep understanding of math and physics.

Structural engineers work for both the private and public sectors. These professionals spend the majority of their time calculating how materials perform under stress, scrutinizing blueprints, and using specialized computer equipment.

Because of the technical difficulty of this specialty, most employers require their new hires to have a bachelor’s degree as well as a professional engineer certification. If you want to be promoted to management, a master’s degree is recommended. An entry-level structural engineer will make on average $50,000 with the possibility of working their way up to over $110,000.

The integrity of our buildings and bridges is very important, so engineers are always continuing to educate themselves in order to better serve their community.

Environmental

Environmental engineers focus on protecting people and the environment from negative effects such as pollution, waste, climate change, and more. This field combines engineering with biology and chemistry to develop solutions to various environmental problems.

As an environmental engineer, you must have advanced problem-solving skills to help create innovative solutions to complex problems. Having a background in chemistry, physics, biology, and math will also help you become a better engineer.

The typical week for an environmental engineer will be spent reviewing environmental reports, designing projects, analyzing data, and interacting with other team members. 

Most environmental engineers work with urban planners, lawyers, consulting companies, and the government. The medium salary for this subfield is $88,000, with federal workers getting paid the most, followed by consulting companies and research companies.

Studies find that environmental engineering is a growing and in-demand job. With local and federal governments wanting to protect our water resources, and companies needing to adhere to regulations, the job outlook is favorable.

Construction

Think of construction engineering as a combination of structure and transportation engineering. Here, you will design and execute plans for building and maintaining our infrastructure. This is the perfect career path for those who love science and math and who enjoy finding creative solutions to problems. Most of your projects will include working on:

  • Bridges
  • Buildings
  • Airports
  • Stadiums
  • Highways

While some other engineers might spend most of their days indoors, as a construction engineer, you will have the opportunity to hang out and help build various construction projects on-site.. These projects might be related to water supply (ex: dams) or real estate (ex: high rise condos), but either way, you get to oversee the project. You will design, tweak, and oversee all parts of the safety and efficiency of the construction process.

The typical construction engineer makes $70,000 with the most experienced making around $100,000. Your experience, of course, as well as your education level will be a major factor in how much you make. 

Is Civil Engineering Worth it?

Well, that depends! 

Do you prefer working with numbers? Do you find solving challenging problems fun? Are you prepared to work on one project for a long time with various team members? If yes, then this might be the right career for you.

Civil engineering can offer you some amazing opportunities, and it will be a job that is never going away. Your designs and projects will stand the test of time. 

So, is civil engineering worth it? We think so.