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Civil Engineering Overview The Field - Preparation - Day in the Life - Specialization - Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations The Field From the pyramids of Egypt to the international space station, civil engineers have always faced the challenges of the future - advancing civilization and building our quality of life. Today, the world is undergoing vast changes -- the technological revolution, population growth, environmental concerns, and more. All create unique challenges for civil engineers of every specialty. The next decades will be the most creative, demanding, and rewarding of times for civil engineers, and now is the best time to find the right career for you. Civil engineers are in the forefront of technology. They are the leading users of sophisticated high-tech products - applying the very latest concepts in computer-aided design (CAD) during design, construction, project scheduling, and cost control. Civil engineering is about community service, development, and improvement -- the planning, design, construction, and operation of facilities essential to modern life, ranging from transit systems to offshore structures to space satellites. Civil engineers are problem solvers, meeting the challenges of pollution, traffic congestion, drinking water and energy needs, urban redevelopment, and community planning. Our future as a nation will be closely tied to space, energy, the environment, and our ability to interact with and compete in the global economy. You, as a civil engineer, will perform a vital role in linking these themes and improving quality of life for the 21st century. As the technological revolution expands, as the world's population increases, and as environmental concerns mount, your skills will be needed. There is no limit to the personal satisfaction you will feel from helping to make our world a better place to live. Whatever area you choose, be it design, construction, research, teaching, or management, civil engineering offers you a wide range of career choices for your future. "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Civil engineering is grouped into seven major divisions of engineering: structural; environmental; geotechnical; water resources; transportation; construction; and urban planning. In practice, these are not always hard and fixed categories, but they offer a helpful way to review a very diverse and dynamic field. Preparation A civil engineer's training should continue throughout his or her entire career. An effective engineer realizes that continuing education is the key to success. In college an engineer gains an ability to learn that will last throughout life, while at the same time absorbing the basic knowledge and skills that every engineer must master. On-the-job experience, gained through co-op assignments, internships, or summer jobs, is a vital factor in making a young engineer credible to potential employers. Gaining professional licensing is often important to career advancement. Becoming marketable means having the skills and experiences beyond the basics, perhaps through leadership in student or community organizations, plus having the ability to communicate one's unique qualifications clearly. Undergraduate Engineering students usually select their field in the first or second year of college. At the same time that you are coming to grips with the fundamentals of engineering, you should also pay attention to the broader issue of learning to learn a skill you will need to master if you are to continue to develop as an engineer -- communication. It is important to develop your writing and speaking skills. It is a good idea to get involved in campus activities that let you develop as a person as you learn to be an engineer. Co-ops and Internships Civil engineers will tell you that co-ops, internships, summer jobs, or any other way to gain experience in the field of your choice, will help you land a first job. More importantly, it will give you a chance to find out what you like to do and are good at doing. Marketability Anyone looking for a job has to get comfortable with the idea of selling one's strengths. Whether it is a deep specialization or a broad background, you will need to demonstrate how you will help an employer. Marketing includes both a profound knowledge of the product (yourself) and the buyer (the employer). When you find a match between your interests and their needs, the chances of success are high. Licensing Every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have laws regulating the practice of professions including law, medicine, and engineering. These laws protect the public health, safety, and welfare by insuring that those receiving licenses to practice have at least met certain requirements of competence, ability, experience, and character. Licensure laws vary from state to state and are exclusively under the control of the individual state legislatures. But generally, the licensure laws for professional engineers require graduation "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) from an accredited engineering curriculum followed by approximately four years of responsible engineering experience, and finally the successful completion of a written exam. Some states may waive the written exam on the basis of education and experience, but the trend is toward an examination requirement. Graduate School While not the only way to get ahead, graduate training can provide the critical depth of training some specialties require. The best sources of information about grad school are your professors and other practicing engineers. Accredited Programs Those interested in a career in civil engineering should consider reviewing engineering programs that are accredited by ABET, Inc. ABET accreditation is based on an evaluation of an engineering program's student achievement, program improvement, faculty, curricular content, facilities, and institutional commitment. The following is a current list of all universities offering accredited degree programs in civil engineering. • The University of Akron • University of Missouri-Columbia • Alabama A&M University • University of Missouri-Kansas City • University of Alabama at Birmingham • University of Missouri-St. Louis • The University of Alabama in Huntsville • Montana State University - Bozeman • The University of Alabama • Morgan State University • University of Alaska Anchorage • University of Nebraska-Lincoln • University of Alaska Fairbanks • University of Nevada-Las Vegas • Arizona State University • University of Nevada-Reno • University of Arizona • University of New Hampshire • University of Arkansas • University of New Haven • Auburn University • New Jersey Institute of Technology • Boise State University • New Mexico State University • Bradley University • University of New Mexico • Brigham Young University • University of New Orleans • Brown University • State University of New York at Buffalo • Bucknell University • City University of New York, City College • California Polytechnic State University, San Luis • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical Obispo State University • California State Polytechnic University, Pomona • University of North Carolina at Charlotte • California State University, Chico • North Carolina State University at Raleigh • California State University, Fresno • North Dakota State University • California State University, Fullerton • University of North Dakota • California State University, Long Beach • University of North Florida • California State University, Los Angeles • Northeastern University • California State University, Northridge • Northern Arizona University • California State University, Sacramento • Northwestern University • University of California, Berkeley • Norwich University • University of California, Davis • University of Notre Dame • University of California, Irvine • Ohio Northern University • University of California, Los Angeles • The Ohio State University • Carnegie Mellon University • Ohio University • Carroll College • Oklahoma State University • Case Western Reserve University • The University of Oklahoma "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) • The Catholic University of America • Old Dominion University • University of Central Florida • Oregon Institute of Technology • Christian Brothers University • Oregon State University • University of Cincinnati • University of the Pacific • The Citadel • Pennsylvania State University • Clarkson University • University of Pittsburgh • Clemson University • Polytechnic University • Cleveland State University • Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico • University of Colorado at Boulder • Portland State University • University of Colorado at Denver and Health • University of Portland Sciences Center • Prairie View A & M University • Colorado State University • Princeton University • Columbia University • University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus • University of Connecticut • Purdue University at West Lafayette • The Cooper Union • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute • Cornell University • University of Rhode Island • University of Dayton • Rice University • University of Delaware • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology • University of Detroit Mercy • Rowan University • University of the District of Columbia-Van Ness • Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Campus • Saint Martin's University • Drexel University • Duke University • San Diego State University • San Francisco State University • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Daytona • San Jose State University Beach • Santa Clara University • University of Evansville • Florida A & M University/Florida State University • Seattle University (FAMU-FSU) • University of South Alabama • University of South Carolina • Florida Atlantic University • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology • Florida Institute of Technology • Florida International University (University Park) • South Dakota State University • University of Florida • University of South Florida • University of Southern California • George Mason University • Southern Illinois University at Carbondale • The George Washington University • Georgia Institute of Technology • Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville • Gonzaga University • Southern Methodist University • Southern University and Agricultural & • University of Hartford Mechanical College • University of Hawaii at Manoa • Stanford University • University of Houston • Howard University • Stevens Institute of Technology • Syracuse University • Idaho State University • Temple University • University of Idaho • University of Tennessee at Knoxville • University of Illinois at Chicago • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign • Tennessee State University • Tennessee Technological University • Illinois Institute of Technology • Texas A & M University • Iowa State University • Texas A & M University - Kingsville • University of Iowa • Jackson State University • University of Texas at Arlington • University of Texas at Austin • The Johns Hopkins University • University of Texas at El Paso • Kansas State University • The University of Texas at San Antonio • The University of Kansas • University of Kentucky • Texas Tech University • The University of Toledo • Lafayette College • Tri-State University • Lamar University • Tufts University • Lawrence Technological University • Lehigh University • Tulane University • United States Air Force Academy • University of Louisiana at Lafayette "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) • Louisiana State University and A&M College • United States Coast Guard Academy • Louisiana Tech University • United States Military Academy • University of Louisville • Utah State University • Loyola Marymount University • University of Utah • University of Maine • Valparaiso University • Manhattan College • Vanderbilt University • Marquette University • University of Vermont • University of Maryland College Park • Villanova University • University of Massachusetts Amherst • Virginia Military Institute • University of Massachusetts Dartmouth • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State • Massachusetts Institute of Technology University • University of Massachusetts Lowell • University of Virginia • The University of Memphis • Washington State University • Merrimack College • Washington University • University of Washington • University of Miami • Michigan State University • Wayne State University • Michigan Technological University • West Virginia University • University of Michigan • West Virginia University Institute of • Minnesota State University, Mankato Technology • Western Kentucky University • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities • Western Michigan University • Mississippi State University • University of Mississippi • Widener University • Missouri University of Science and Technology • University of Wisconsin-Madison • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee • University of Wisconsin-Platteville • Worcester Polytechnic Institute • University of Wyoming • Youngstown State University Day in the Life The only constant in the professional lives of civil engineers is that they never have typical days. Every day is different, bringing new challenges and unique demands, and the nature of these demands varies according to the specialization and seniority of the engineer. On the other hand, most report they work in teams, the spend time on things not necessarily well described in their titles, they concern themselves with continuing education and their networking part of the time, and women and minorities report a better environment than may once have been the norm in engineering. Virtually all engineers spend some part of every day doing some routine administrative tasks, and newly-graduated engineers may be surprised to find they will most likely file, type, send e-mail, make phone calls, take notes in meetings, and many other ordinary chores. Teams and Coworkers Almost all jobs in civil engineering require some sort of interaction with coworkers. Whether they are working in a team situation, or just asking for advice, most engineers have to have the ability to communicate and work with other people. Tasks and Titles Civil engineers have a wide array of specialty areas to choose from. The titles civil engineers hold are far more broad than most people know and their duties are even more diverse. "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Women and Minorities Once engineering was predominantly a field belonging to white males, as were most professionals in the western world. This is arguably no longer the case, although there is still progress to be made. In the case of women, the percentage of engineering bachelor's degrees has been on the rise. Specialization There are seven major disciplines within civil engineering that are closely interrelated: Structural As a structural engineer, you will face the challenge of designing structures that support their own weight and the loads they carry, and that resist wind, temperature, earthquake, and many other forces. Bridges, buildings, offshore structures, space platforms, amusement park rides, and many other kinds of projects are included within this exciting discipline. You will develop the appropriate combination of steel, concrete, timber, plastic, and new exotic materials. You will do the planning and design, as well as visit the project site to make sure the work is done properly. Environmental The skills of environmental engineers are becoming increasingly important as we attempt to protect the fragile resources of our planet. Environmental engineers translate physical, chemical, and biological processes into systems to destroy toxic substances, remove pollutants from water, reduce non-hazardous solid waste volumes, eliminate contaminates from the air, and develop groundwater supplies. In this field, you may be called upon to resolve issues of providing safe drinking water, cleaning up sites contaminated with hazardous materials, disposing of wastewater, and managing solid wastes. Geotechnical Geotechnical engineering is required in all aspects of civil engineering, because most projects are supported by the ground. As a geotechnical engineer, you might develop projects below ground, such as tunnels, foundations, and offshore platforms. You will analyze the properties of soil and rock that support and affect the behavior of these structures. You may evaluate the potential settlements of buildings, the stability of slopes and fills, the seepage of ground water and the effects of earthquakes. You will investigate the rocks and soils at a project site and determine the best way to support a structure in the ground. You may also take part in the design and construction of dams, embankments, and retaining walls. Water Resources Water is essential to our lives, and as a water resources engineer, you will deal with issues concerning the quality and quantity of water. You will work to prevent floods, to supply water for cities, industry, and irrigation, to treat wastewater, to protect beaches, or to manage and redirect rivers. You might be involved in the design, construction, or maintenance of hydroelectric power facilities, canals, dams, pipelines, pumping stations, locks, or seaport facilities. "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Transportation Because the quality of a community I directly related to the quality of its transportation system, your function as a transportation engineer will be to move people, good, and materials safely and efficiently. Your challenge will be to find ways to meet our ever-increasing travel needs on land, air, and sea. You will design, construct, and maintain all types of transportation facilities, including highways, railroads, airfields, and ports. An important part of transportation engineering is to upgrade our transportation capability by improving traffic control and mass transit systems, and by introducing high-speed trains, people movers, and other new transportation methods. Construction As a construction engineer, you are the builder of our future. The construction phase of a project represents the first tangible result of design. Using your technical and management skills will allow you to turn designs into reality – on time and within budget. You will apply your knowledge of construction methods and equipment, along with the principles of financing, planning, and managing, to turn the designs of other engineers into successful projects. Urban Planning As a professional in this area, you will be concerned with the entire development of a community. Analyzing a variety of information will help you coordinate projects, such as projecting street patters, identifying park and recreation areas, and determining areas for industrial and residential growth. To ensure ready access to your community, coordination with other authorities may be required to integrate freeways, airports, and other related facilities. Successful coordination of a project will require you to be people-oriented as well as technically knowledgeable. Earnings Money issues are always relative. It is not just how big a paycheck, but what you have to do to get it, whether you enjoy the work and the environment, how much you get to keep after your living expenses, and what intangible rewards you might also value. Choosing to work in the public versus private sector may also influence salary ranges. As in any profession, civil engineering salaries bear some relationship to the level of responsibility the employee takes on. Salary Data Entry-level salaries vary based on your areas of expertise, experience, education, supervisory responsibility, accountability for projects, and the geographic location, size, and industry of the employer. According to a 2007 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor's degree civil engineering graduates posted a solid increase; their average rose 4.8 percent to $47,750. According the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for civil engineers is $68,600. In terms of starting salaries, the average starting salary for civil engineers who have earned a Bachelor's degree is $48,509, while those with a Master's were offered $48,280. PhD civi engineers received average starting salaries of $62,275. "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Employer Size The size of a company has considerable influence on the salary range for a given function. Larger firms tend to offer higher starting wages and more benefits, but upward mobility may be highly competitive. A smaller company may pay less but offer a more direct path to greater responsibility and a bigger check. It is your preference, and up to you to seek out the facts regarding each individual company you might consider working for. (corptech database of 45,000 technical companies, hoovers company info, equal opportunity publications, engineering news record, US Army Corps of Engineers, Best companies for working mothers) Location Location is a factor in judging salaries. Pay in rural areas tends to be below salaries in big cities, but this if often offset by differences in cost of living. Type of Employer Rewards are very different in public and private sectors. The salaries may be higher in the private sector but when you consider the total compensation package, the difference may not be as significant. Other Compensation Factors Beyond the intrinsic reward of feeling good about your work, there are many varieties of compensation packages. Flexible hours and a family-friendly environment may be worth more than money to you. Everything from profit sharing to retirement benefits, health coverage, and vacation time should be part of your thinking in evaluating a potential employer. The opportunity for promotion and continuing education is particularly important for first-job seekers. Employment According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers hold about 256,000 jobs. This represents 17% of the 1.5 million jobs held by engineers in the U.S. Employment opportunities for civil engineers exist all over the world. Civil engineers are needed everywhere to plan, design, construct, operate, improve, and renovate the projects essential to modern comfort and growth. Where you work makes a big difference to your career. The key to making a success of a foreign assignment is being prepared, considering all the issues, and having a clear picture of the benefits. Globalization While there are abundant opportunities to work internationally as a civil engineer, it takes some special preparation to do well abroad. Speaking more than one language is a major factor. Being able to adapt to new conditions rapidly is another. Although the international workforce is becoming more mobile every day, traditionally big engineering firms tend to send experienced senior level staff on international assignments. Studying abroad is one way to investigate how interested you are in working internationally. Some form of international work or study experience is a strong credential for a young civil engineer. Even if you do not want to work in other countries on a regular basis, understanding engineering from a global perspective will enhance your ability to complete domestically in what is, increasingly, a world market. "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org) Career Path Forecast According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers are expected to experience 18 percent employment growth during the projections decade of 2006-2016. This is faster than the average for all occupations. Spurred by general population growth and the related need to improve the Nation’s infrastructure, more civil engineers will be needed to design and construct or expand transportation, water supply, and pollution control systems and buildings and building complexes. They also will be needed to repair or replace existing roads, bridges, and other public structures. Because construction industries and architectural, engineering and related services employ many civil engineers, employment opportunities will vary by geographic area and may decrease during economic slowdowns, when construction is often curtailed. Professional Organizations Professional organizations and associations provide a wide range of resources for planning and navigating a career in Civil Engineering. These groups can play a key role in your development and keep you abreast of what is happening in your industry. Associations promote the interests of their members and provide a network of contacts that can help you find jobs and move your career forward. They can offer a variety of services including job referral services, continuing education courses, insurance, travel benefits, periodicals, and meeting and conference opportunities. American Society of Civil Engineers (www.asce.org) Founded in 1852, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) represents more than 133,000 members of the civil engineering profession worldwide, and is America's oldest national engineering society. ASCE's vision is to position engineers as global leaders building a better quality of life. "Civil Engineering Overview" Prepared as part of the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center (www.careercornerstone.org)
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