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What Do Civil Engineers Do? All Your Questions Answered

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There are approximately 256,000 civil engineers employed in the U.S. today. As the numbers show, civil engineers are highly sought-after in today’s world.

What Do Civil Engineers Do? All Your Questions Answered 

But why is that? What do civil engineers do, and why are they so important today?

That’s what we’re going to discuss today. In this article, we’re outlining civil engineers’ many roles while examining their credentials.

What Is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is a discipline dealing with the design, construction, and maintenance of buildings.

A civil engineer overseas and designs public works construction projects. This includes building roads, dams, bridges, and other important structures.

When people think of engineering, they usually go straight to bridges and skyscrapers. Indeed, those buildings require a lot of engineering and civil engineers are at the forefront of that.

However, they’re also responsible for public water systems and other key infrastructure projects. A civil engineer is someone who applies their knowledge of utilities and infrastructure to help meet human needs.

Civil engineers aren’t masters at one specific subject. In fact, most engineers have a specific concentration or subcategory which we’ll explore later.

But the question still stands, what exactly does a civil engineer do?

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What Do Civil Engineers Do?

Whenever a city or state needs public works to project, a civil engineer is called upon to design it. They either work for private companies or for government agencies funding a large project.

Whether they’re airports, bridges, skyscrapers, or public water systems, civil engineers lead the design and execution stages.

Most of a civil engineer’s work is done in an office. They use sophisticated programs and apply their knowledge to design and plan their projects.

Sometimes civil engineers are called onto the field to supervise a project or provide expert consultations. They can answer any structurally related question when on-site.

Civil engineers often speak at conferences and public hearings on their knowledge. They might be involved in a press release concerning a new public works project.

Like we established, civil engineers can’t be slotted into one category. They occupy different concentrations and disciplines. Let’s explore these different types in the next section.

Types of Civil Engineers

The specific roles of civil engineers depend on their concentration or discipline. Here are the most common disciplines and what they each entail:

Architectural Engineering

Architecture is all about building structures with aesthetics in mind. Architectural engineers combine building expertise with aesthetics.

They have a lot of structural knowledge along with an eye for the creative. Architectural engineers are particularly popular choices for commercial buildings.

Construction Engineering

Construction engineers have quite a few roles in residential and public works projects. They plan construction activities while supervising structural elements.

They also do feasibility estimates and carry out building inspections. Construction engineers’ roles are highly technical and always in high demand.

Ecological Engineering

Ecological engineers are concerned with the interactions between organisms and the construction projects they supervise. Maintaining or creating ecosystems are their major concerns.

They often consider the health of surrounding forests or water bodies around a construction project.

Environmental Engineering

Similar to ecological engineers, environmental engineers look at a project’s effect on air, water, and land. They make plans to protect those elements whenever construction projects are carried out.

Environmental engineers are experts in sustainability. They implement strategies to handle pollution, noise, and waste.

Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineers are hired to assess the quality of land in any given project. They’re experts on construction materials and proper techniques.

They look at soil quality, slopes, and rock features to make sure a plot of land can sustain a large project. They also design foundations to reduce the effects of natural disasters.

Highway Engineering

Highway engineers are highly specialized experts in the transportation sector. They study traffic patterns and volumes to prevent collisions for future highway projects.

They design structures to optimize vehicle flow and prevent congestion. Highway engineers are experts at sustainable mobility and making systems that improve human travel.

Civil Engineer Qualifications and Licenses

Civil engineers have to be properly educated to handle all these different subfields and disciplines.

Most civil engineers have bachelor’s degrees, while a smaller portion has master’s degrees. Many, however, get other licenses to handle more responsibilities.

For example, those who sign off on projects or supervise planning need the licenses to do so. Licenses require several years of experience and examinations. License standards vary by state and can take a few years to obtain.

Civil Engineer Job Market

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers earned about $87,000 a year on average. Some engineers work directly for the government. Many civil engineers for hire look at private companies.

Many private companies seek out government contracts. Therefore it’s highly variable whether civil engineers work on private or government projects.

The number of projects that companies and governments take on can vary. This is why civil engineering jobs can change from year to year.

As the world’s population continues to grow, we’re going to need more housing structures. Governments also need to develop public works infrastructures like sewers and electrical grids.

As such, civil engineers will continue to find work in the coming years. Furthermore, older buildings need constant fixes and checks. These are all roles civil engineers can fill.

Understand the Importance of Civil Engineers Today

Answering the question “what do civil engineers do” becomes multifaceted. They handle everything from planning the buildings we live and work in, to providing plans for our public utility structures.

Use this guide to understand just what civil engineers do and whether it’s the right profession for you.

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