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Civil Engineers






Nature of the Work [About this section] Index

Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water supply and sewage systems. Major specialties within civil engineering are structural, water resources, environmental, construction, transportation, and geotechnical engineering.

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions, from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others may work in design, construction, research, and teaching.

Employment [About this section]  Index

Civil engineers held about 195,000 jobs in 1998. Almost half were employed by firms providing engineering consulting services, primarily developing designs for new construction projects. Another one third of the jobs were in Federal, State, and local government agencies. The construction industry, public utilities, transportation, and manufacturing industries accounted for most of the remaining employment. About 12,000 civil engineers were self-employed, many as consultants.

Civil engineers usually work near major industrial and commercial centers, often at construction sites. Some projects are situated in remote areas or in foreign countries. In some jobs, civil engineers move from place to place to work on different projects.

Job Outlook [About this section]  Index

Employment of civil engineers is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2008. Spurred by general population growth and an expanding economy, more civil engineers will be needed to design and construct higher capacity transportation, water supply, and pollution control systems; large buildings and building complexes; and to repair or replace existing roads, bridges, and other public structures. In addition to job growth, openings will result from the need to replace civil engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

Because construction and related industries—including those providing design services—employ many civil engineers, employment opportunities will vary by geographic area and may decrease during economic slowdowns, when construction is often curtailed.

Earnings [About this section]  Index

Median annual earnings of civil engineers were $53,450 in 1998. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,800 and $74,550. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,270 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $87,350. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of civil engineers in 1997 were:

Federal government $64,000
Heavy construction, except highway 61,300
Local government, except education and hospitals 52,100
Engineering and architectural services 49,300
State government, except education and hospitals 48,900

According to a 1999 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor’s degree candidates in civil engineering received starting offers averaging about $36,100 a year; master’s degree candidates in civil engineering, $42,300; and Ph.D. candidates in civil engineering, $58,600.

(See introduction to the section on engineers for information on working conditions, training requirements, and sources of additional information.)

O*NET Codes: 22121 About the O*NET codes

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