Civil Engineering

By: Annaleise Gray

What is a Civil Engineer?

Civil Engineering works with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment. Civil Engineers can work on a range of things like roads, bridges, canals, dams, and buildings. There are many subdivisions of Civil Engineering making it a very diverse discipline of Engineering. Personally I am interested in Municipal Engineering, which deals with urban and city planning. I love problem solving and planning things out which would be a good asset to have when working as a Municipal Engineer.

What an engineer might do on a typical day

Here are some things a civil engineer might do on a daily basis:

  • work on projects that involve designing and constructing
  • performed experimental tests
  • write reports
  • produce drawings
  • manage budgets for projects
  • write proposals for new projects
  • deal with clients
  • go to job sites
  • always work with people

Starting Salary

Civil Engineers with a BS degree have a starting salary that averages $49,540. Graduates with a MS have and averages starting salary of $59,880, while Civil Engineers with a PhD have a starting salary of about $65,470. Civil engineers in the field however earned a median salary of $80,770 in 2013, according to the BLS. The highest-paid in the profession made $126,190, while the lowest-paid earned $51,810.

*BLS-Bureau of Labor Statistics


The minimum level of education for a civil engineer is to have a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering, however as can be seen above, a higher education such as a Masters or a PhD doesn't hurt to have either. Civil engineering students begin their college careers by enrolling in chemistry, physics, and advanced mathematics courses. Advanced courses included classes in thermodynamics and structural analysis. Students usually have to complete a design project, of which they have to assess the structural integrity of materials. Students will also have to be familiar with Computer Aided Design- called CAD- skills and will take classes to learn those programs.
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Civil Engineering Sub-disciplines

  • Architectural engineering
  • environmental engineering
  • geotechnical engineering
  • control engineering
  • structural engineering,
  • earthquake engineering,
  • transportation engineering,
  • forensic engineering,
  • municipal or urban engineering,
  • water resources engineering,
  • materials engineering,
  • wastewater engineering,
  • offshore engineering,
  • facade engineering,
  • quantity surveying,
  • coastal engineering,
  • construction surveying,
  • construction engineering.