Civil engineering isn't just about designing fancy buildings. It's mainly concerned with maintaining the infrastructure we depend on every day — our bridges, roads, railways, waste networks and power supplies. Civil engineers have to keep these systems running effectively to meet all kinds of challenges, from population growth to environmental issues and extreme weather events. To enter this line of work, you're going to need at least a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Salaries are good from the get go, with the median wage coming in at $86,640 a year.
Civil engineers create, improve and protect the environment we live in. They do this by planning, designing and supervising the construction of infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports, bridges, power plants, irrigation systems and sewerage systems. They are also involved in the design of large buildings and structures that need to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Day to day, the work might include some or all of the following activities:
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- Performing feasibility and site studies.
- Using Computer Aided Design and other software.
- Undertaking complex calculations.
- Compiling job specifications and managing the tendering process.
- Evaluating the safety, sustainability and environmental impact of projects.
- Liaising with construction professionals, such as architects and contractors.
The entry point is a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, although most civil engineers need a graduate degree for promotion to senior positions. Many employers will ask for the "Professional Engineer" designation, a specialist state license that allows you to sign off on projects and oversee the work of other engineers. Entry-level positions don't usually require a PE license, but most civil engineers will work toward the designation as they advance in their careers.
Civil Engineer Salary Per Hour
The median annual salary for civil engineers was $86,640 in May 2018. This equates to $41.65 per hour. The median is the half-way salary, so half of civil engineers will earn more than this amount and half will earn less. The highest 10 percent of earners made more than $142,560 in 2018. Graduates are looking at starting salaries around the $55,000-$60,000 mark.
Civil engineers usually work normal business hours, but it really depends on the project. They may be required to work evenings and weekends as the project deadline approaches, and they may be required to travel to and from construction sites. Some civil engineers may have to work shifts and be out in all weathers. Employers include construction companies, government agencies, railway companies and utility companies.
Years of Experience
Entry-level civil engineers earn a decent salary, but, like most engineering professionals, their income rises with time and experience. Here's what a typical salary projection looks like:
- 0-5 years: $59,000
- 5-10 years: $72,000
- 10-20 years: $84,000
- 20+ years: $96,000
You can convert these figures into an hourly sum by plugging the numbers into an online civil engineer salary calculator. For illustration, a $59,000 annual salary converts to $29.50 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week and an annual two-week vacation. The equivalent civil engineer salary per month would be $4,916.67.
Job Growth Trend
Civil engineering skills are in in demand and the profession is projected to grow 11 percent through 2026, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This equates to an additional 32,200 jobs. The demand is largely driven by an aging infrastructure, which means that more civil engineers will be needed to manage huge rebuilding projects, such as upgrading the country's bridges, dams and roads.