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What does a civil engineer do?

Civil engineering is a challenging profession that serves and addresses the needs of the public. If you enjoy the development of technical solutions that serve the community, you may have what it takes to be a civil engineer.

Civil engineers oversee large construction projects, including designing, constructing, supervising, and maintaining road systems and the accompanying infrastructure, buildings, airports, and systems for water treatment, hydroelectricity, and more. With the national economy's recovery, civil engineering jobs are expected to grow 20 percent in the next decade, which is faster than average.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects.
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages and risk analysis.
  • Compile and submit permit applications to local, state, and federal agencies verifying that projects comply with various regulations.
  • Perform or oversee soil testing to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations.
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects.
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project’s economic feasibility.
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards.
  • Perform or oversee, surveying operations to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction.
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions.
  • Manage the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public and private infrastructure.

Because there are so many different aspects of civil engineering, many civil engineers choose to pursue a specialty. More popular specialties include construction engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, and transportation engineering.

Want to know if this major is a good fit for you? Visit the Career Counseling Center, where they help you with your major decisions.