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Arkansas State University

A Look at Civil Engineering

Drive through any American city and you’ll quickly see why there will always be a demand for civil engineers. Established buildings, new construction, bridges, roads, utilities and more are all touched by the civil engineer’s work.

According to a LinkedIn article by recruiting professional Diane Wade, civil engineers make it possible for us to thrive in a “civilized, connected community.” They manage the design of nearly every aspect of construction that touches our lives.

“They help to coordinate projects from sewerage to skyscrapers to air travel,” she said.

At a minimum, the lower-paying jobs in civil engineering require an undergraduate degree. And the higher-paying jobs may require a combination of experience and an advanced degree, such as the online Master of Engineering degree plan offered by Arkansas State University.

A Wide Variety of Opportunities

Civil engineers work in all 50 states and about half work for public authorities. In the private sector, civil engineers work for traditional engineering firms as well as telecommunications and consulting firms. According to WorldWideLearn, the field is open to many specialties, including the following:

  • Transportation specialists work with local and regional planning boards to identify areas of growth and development.
  • Geo-technical engineers help builders excavate underground projects and work with experts who manage land renewal projects.
  • Hydraulic/Hydrology/Water Resource Engineers redirect water to the benefit of consumers and businesses in a community.
  • Environmental engineers work with private and government entities to institute air pollution standards that reduce harmful emissions from factories without negative impacts on industry.
  • Construction managers use their engineering and leadership skills to ensure building projects are completed on time and under budget.

Civil Engineering Facts and Figures

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median pay for civil engineers in 2017 was $84,770 per year. The Civil Engineer Overview report in U.S. News & World Report said the best-paid 25 percent made $109,930 per year while the lowest paid 25 percent made $66,260.

They also ranked civil engineering No. 2 in Best Engineering Jobs, No. 16 in Best STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) jobs, and No. 36 in their 100 Best Jobs.

BLS estimated employment of civil engineers will grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. This means that 32,200 jobs will be added in this time period, mainly because more civil engineers will be needed to manage projects that range from repair of aging infrastructure to construction of new structures of all types.

A survey by Burning Glass Technologies’ Occupational Deep Dive sheds light on demand. They say the five states with the most civil engineering jobs are California, Texas, Florida, New York and Colorado.

The top industries hiring civil engineers are professional, scientific and technical services, construction, manufacturing, public administration, and transportation and warehousing. And finally, the top five jobs in demand are:

  • Civil engineer
  • Project manager
  • Structural engineer
  • Construction manager
  • Transportation engineer

What Type of Education Do Civil Engineers Need?

According to Chron, most civil engineering jobs require a minimum of an undergraduate degree. Immediately after graduation, prospective engineers must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination (FEE), among other requirements.

Those who want to serve as a lead engineer, manager or engineer for large projects should consider a graduate degree. Most on-campus programs take two years to complete, making it hard for anyone with a job and family responsibilities.

Consider an Online MEM Degree

The difficulty of pursuing an on-campus degree has led to the growth of online MEM degree programs such as the one offered by Arkansas State University. Students can finish their MEM coursework online in as few as 14 months, working at home (or anywhere with an internet connection) on the schedule they choose and at the pace they desire.

The curriculum at the Arkansas State online MEM is the same as on campus at a more affordable price. A-State’s online MEM program “gives you the leadership knowledge and technical skills you need to advance into management roles in a range of engineering fields.”

A career in civil engineering can be financially rewarding. It is growing at a rate that tops all other occupations and offers a wide range of jobs. And as important, civil engineering offers a real opportunity for those who want to make key contributions at the local, state and federal levels.

Learn more about the Arkansas State University online Master of Engineering Management program.


LinkedIn: Why the High Demand for Civil Engineers?

WorldWideLearn: What Does It Mean to Study Civil Engineering?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Civil Engineers

U.S. News & World Report: What Is a Civil Engineer?

Chron: How Much Training Is Required for Civil Engineering?

Burning Glass Technologies: Occupational Deep Dive, March 2019

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