Career Paths in Civil Engineering

Episode #50
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If I were to ask you what civil engineers do, you would probably answer with “houses”, maybe “buildings”, or even “bridges”. That’s not wrong. But there’s much more to what a civil engineer can do in his or her career. This episode lays out some of the many possible career paths you can choose from as a civil engineer, as well as the requirements you need to meet to practice each of them.

Civil engineering projects are known for impacting lots of people, both directly and indirectly, and the first career path you can choose will allow you to do just that. Government agencies and local Departments of Transportation (DOTs) need civil engineers to do the work that will affect society in general. This includes the planning, design, and construction of highways and other infrastructure projects, bridge inspection and maintenance, etc.

The second route you can go is education. As a professor, you’re not only teaching the next generation of civil engineers, but also helping the community with academic research. Practicing engineers do not know of early-stage research findings until they come into the codes they use. Therefore, working in academia will allow you to be aware of all the ground-breaking research that is going on, and that can really shape the future of the field. Luckily, your research will make it into the standards too.

Next, there’s one sector most engineers are not aware of, but that can be just as good as the most common ones: the industry sector. Basically, you work at facilities and plants to make sure they are running properly and efficiently. For example, you could be the engineer in charge of a water treatment plant, a hydropower plant, or any other service-based facility that needs to function properly so that people have what they need.

Last but not least, there are the two most common routes you can go: the consulting and construction sectors. The first is mostly a day-to-day implementation of concepts and problem-solving in the office, with occasional site visits and lots of interaction with clients, varying from government agencies to individual contractors. The latter is the hands-on, on-site work that follows what was done in the office. The goal in construction is to get the project built―or the service completed―on time, with everybody safe, and as efficiently as possible.

If you’re just starting out your career, or feel like what you're doing right now is not aligned with what you want to be doing, this episode is for you. Depending on what you like doing, you can definitely find a position that best suits you within the field of civil engineering.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • Five of the Many Possible Career Paths in Civil Engineering
  • The Opportunities in Government for Civil Engineers
  • What a Typical Career Path in the Government Sector Looks Like
  • The Career Paths of a Civil Engineer in the Education Sector
  • The Benefits of Working in Academia
  • The Professional Ladder in Education―From Professor to Department Chair
  • Civil Engineering Opportunities in the Consulting Sector
  • Small and Big Engineering Firms: Which One Best Suits You?
  • Three Main Tracks an Engineer Can Choose at a Private Firm
  • The Career Path Most People Don’t Know About: The Industry Sector
  • What You'll Be Doing in the Industry Sector as a Civil Engineer
  • What a Career Path in the Construction Sector Looks Like
  • The Hands-On, On-site Work in the Construction Side of Civil Engineering
  • Requirements You Need to Meet Before Going Any of These Routes


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