All humans benefit from civil engineering.
You can thank civil engineers every time you use an electrical device, turn on a tap, take public transportation, or drive on a road. Civil engineers are responsible for the buildings, structures, and major public works projects that make modern life possible.
What Is Civil Engineering?
Civil engineering is the study of how to design, build, and maintain structures in the natural environment. It is perhaps the oldest type of engineering, as one could argue that civil engineering includes even the building of a simple shelter or the construction of a rudimentary bridge across a stream using a tree trunk.
Professional civil engineers often work both in offices and in the field. First, for each project, they must carefully design the technical systems and select materials to ensure efficiency and a high level of safety. Then, on the job site, civil engineers must monitor the project’s structural and environmental details both during and after construction.
Related: What is Civil Engineering Technology?
What Is the Importance of Civil Engineering in Shaping the World?
Quite simply, modern society would not exist without civil engineers. For example, civil engineers were necessary to build every part of our transportation infrastructure, from roads and bridges to docks, train stations, and airports. The development of our utilities, such as water, electricity, and phone and internet service, similarly required professional civil engineering knowledge. All that is before we even get into the use of civil engineering for huge public structures like dams, power plants, water treatment plants, and highways.
What Are Some Important Civil Engineering Projects?
You may have heard of certain famous civil engineering projects. Every major building had a civil engineer. For example, the creator of the Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel, was a civil engineer. Similarly, every famous bridge (like the Golden Gate Bridge) and dam (like the Hoover Dam) was born in the mind of a professional civil engineer. Recent advances in civil engineering have even allowed for the construction of wondrous structures such as the human-made Palm Islands of Dubai.
In the past, civil engineers were crucial to the advancement of society by coming up with new concepts such as viaducts, tunnels, and canals. These inventions effectively improved the quality of life for many generations of humans to come.
Why Do We Need Civil Engineers?
We rely on civil engineers when we need to get water on hot summer days (by building reservoirs and pipelines). We also need them to design and build protective structures like levees and traffic barriers. In addition, every major construction project needs a civil engineer to account for the various things that may cause danger in the future, including natural disasters.
Moreover, civil engineering is a broad field, and its impacts are felt outside of just engineering. People in diverse fields are reliant on the expertise of their civil engineer counterparts. For instance, as part of their profession, civil engineers may:
- Assist architects in the design of large buildings
- Work with environmental engineers to ensure that each project is safe for the environment
- Consult with transportation agencies on how best to manage traffic
- Help public officials design new ways of meeting the needs of the public
Why Is Civil Engineering a Good Career?
Civil engineers enjoy excellent pay, earning a median salary of over $87,000 in 2019, good benefits, and many opportunities for advancement. This led U.S. News and World Report to rank civil engineering as the 33rd best job in its 2019 rankings.
Civil engineering may be a great career for you if you are patient, like to think critically to solve problems, and prefer to work with many people from different fields as part of a team.
What Are the Types of Civil Engineering Careers?
There are a number of areas of concentration within civil engineering, so if you choose this field, you may need to search for the role that is right for you. Civil engineers may work in transportation, structural engineering, environmental engineering, construction, architecture, and many other areas. Regardless, you must do research to find the right undergraduate or graduate program for you.
Civil engineers are among the most important engineers in our society. Essentially every aspect of life, from going to the store to taking a shower, depends on a construction project that could not have happened without a civil engineer. If you want to do creative work that helps the public, then you may want to put “becoming a structural engineer” at the top of your career list.