Best civil engineering degree jobs for a successful career

Civil engineers work in construction, business, and government. They are essential to the growth, stability, and oversight of infrastructure worldwide.
Written by Melissa Sartore, Contributor

Civil engineering jobs are opportunities for individuals to take part in building projects from all angles. Civil engineering involves the design, build, and operation of physical and natural environmental features. Civil engineers construct buildings, roads, and pipelines, taking part in projects both below and above ground. 

Most civil engineers work in engineering services, but many find employment with federal, state, and local government agencies. Other civil engineers work in residential and non residential construction.

With a growing concern for infrastructure safety and stability, observers anticipate a demand for civil engineering professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8% growth in employment for civil engineers from 2020 to 2030, with greater gains projected for construction managers

Types of civil engineering careers

In the broadest sense, civil engineering involves designing, constructing, and maintaining structural works. Within civil engineering, numerous divisions exist, including the ones listed below:

  • Structural engineering: Focuses on structural analysis and design with an eye toward safe weight, force, and load bearing and resistance. 
  • Environmental engineering: Creates solutions to environmental challenges by integrating engineering principles with science topics like hydrology, ecology, and geology.
  • Construction engineering: Involves the design and execution of infrastructure such as roads, railroads, dams, utilities, and related projects.
  • Surveying: Involves determining the distance and angles between points to draw boundaries, inspect infrastructure, and identify physical and cultural details.
  • Geotechnical engineering: Concerns itself with earth materials, what they indicate about subsurface conditions, and how to design and build amid hazards such as rock sides and soil erosion.
  • Transportation engineering: Applies engineering principles to planning and managing transportation infrastructure to design safer and more efficient transportation systems.
  • Water resource engineering: Studies and manages techniques and technologies for managing and preserving water resources. 
  • Municipal engineering: Focuses on building and maintaining facilities and systems for towns, cities, and comparable urban environments.

Best jobs for civil engineering majors

With a civil engineering degree, you can find positions at all levels within the workforce. Entry-level civil engineering jobs may not require experience, while mid- and upper-level positions often necessitate additional training and education. Here's a list of some of the top civil engineering jobs that might be right  for you. 

To rank the best jobs for civil engineering majors, we assessed roles based on salary, job demand and projected growth, work-life balance, and work satisfaction. 

1. Construction manager

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: General contractor, construction project manager, construction supervisor
  • Good fit for: Time management skills, ability to juggle multiple activities, can work in an office or on a construction site, interpersonal communication skills

Description: Construction managers plan, implement, and supervise building projects through their entire life cycle. They prepare budgets, timelines, and schedules; collaborate with architects and engineers; troubleshoot challenges, and issue reports about progress, as needed. Many states require certification and licensure for construction managers. 

2. Environmental engineer

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Ecological engineer, water resource engineer, sustainability engineer 
  • Good fit for: Concerned about environmental issues and protection, science and engineering education and experience, enjoys working outside, problem solvers, interpersonal communication skills

Description: Environmental engineers combine natural science concepts with engineering principles to address global issues such as water safety, climate change, and sustainability. They analyze data; develop projects to improve recycling, waste disposal, and pollution control efforts; work with fellow scientists and regulatory bodies; and advise corporations, communities, and government agencies. States often require a professional engineer license for environmental engineers.

3. Civil engineer

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Structural engineers, infrastructure engineer, professional engineer
  • Good fit for: Decision making abilities, problem solver, math and writing acumen, time management and communication skills, adaptability

Description: Civil engineers plan, build, monitor, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems. They work in the private and public sector, often specializing in an area such as transportation or urban engineering. Civil engineers oversee projects from start to finish; work alongside fellow engineers, scientists, and technicians; prepare budgets and reports; and analyze data to determine project feasibility. State licensure requirements vary, but civil engineers who work in the public sector must be certified. 

4. Fire engineer

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Fire protection engineer, fire safety engineer, conservation engineer
  • Good fit for: Trained firefighters, enjoys working outside, able to work long hours, problem solver, quick thinker, communication skills.

Description: Fire engineers are firefighters who put out fires while simultaneously designing and maintaining fire-fighting equipment. They also identify fire risks to develop methods to prevent, control, and mitigate fires. Fire engineers have knowledge of fire protection systems and programs; understand fire dynamics and fire modeling; and coordinate with municipal personnel. Some states require fire engineers to hold professional certification.

5. Geotechnical engineer

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Geotechnician, earth material engineer, landscape engineer
  • Good fit for: Problem solvers, analytical thinkers, works as part of a team or individually, knowledge of natural science and engineering principles, can work outdoors or in an office

Description: As a subset of civil engineering, geotechnics focuses on soil and rock behavior. Geotechnical engineers use principles of geology, hydrology, and geophysics to identify the mechanics of soil and rock formations to aid in construction. They improve and create equipment and methods to deal with slopes, slides, and other challenges related to on-shore and off-shore structures. State certification requirements vary for geotechnical engineers.

6. Design engineer

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Product design engineer, system design engineer, mechanical design engineer
  • Good fit for: Creative, flexible, math and science knowledge, problem solver, works well as part of a team and independently, interpersonal communication abilities

Description: Design engineers plan, develop, implement, and maintain products and systems for various settings. They create blueprints and schematics to produce and test prototypes to be used in manufacturing and manufacturing; use computer-aided design and computer-aided engineering software; and collect and assess data; and produce progress reports, as needed. Licensure requirements for design engineers vary by state.

7. Transport planner

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Transportation engineer, transportation system planner; transportation infrastructure engineer
  • Good fit for: Problem solvers, creative, honed written and verbal communication skills, effective time management skills

Description: Transportation planners work with municipal, local, state, and federal agencies to identify locations for transportation systems. They help determine the most efficient and effective way to transport goods and services. Some transport planners cooperate as transportation engineers, designing and overseeing the building of transportation infrastructure. Depending on responsibility, certification requirements for transport planners vary significantly.

8. Surveyor

  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Engineering surveyor, land surveyor, forensic surveyor, construction surveyor
  • Good fit for: Can work outside for extended periods of time, physical strength, detail oriented, works as part of a team

Description: Surveyors measure between points to identify boundaries, shapes, contours, and other features of the Earth's surface. Surveyors collect data for land records, maps, and reports; write reports to relay their findings; use global positioning systems to locate reference points; and use geographic information systems technology to present information. Some surveyors specialize subsets of the field such as land, construction, marine, or mine surveying. Surveyors must be licensed by the state within which they work. 

9. Urban planner

  • Minimum degree required: Master's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Regional planner, municipal planner, urban developer
  • Good fit for: Creative, problem solver, can work in an office or in the field, written and verbal communication skills, decision making abilities

Description: Urban planners develop plans to create communities, meet the needs of growing populations within municipal boundaries, and revitalize towns and cities. They coordinate with public officials and governments; gather and assess qualitative and quantitative data; determine feasibility of projects and programs; and ensure adherence to applicable laws and regulations. New Jersey is the only state that requires licensure for urban planners.

10. Engineering technicians

  • Minimum degree required: Associate degree
  • Alternate job titles: Mechanical engineering technician, industrial engineering technician, civil engineering technologist
  • Good fit for: Able to work as part of a team, knowledge of science and math, written and verbal communication skills, observant, problem solver

Description: Engineering technicians work alongside fellow engineering professionals to assist in the planning, design, and building of projects and systems. They oversee tests and record data; prepare reports and presentations; participate in fieldwork; and may work on numerous projects at one time. Certification is not required to enter the engineering field but it can allow for career advancement. 

In conclusion

Depending on where you want to work, there are plenty of opportunities to find a job with a civil engineering degree. There are civil engineering jobs across all economic sectors and levels of employment. With a civil engineering degree, you can enter the workforce to gain valuable experience and advance within the profession. 

This article was reviewed by Sarah Holliday, MS, GCDF 

Sarah Holliday, a Black woman wearing a purple top, smiles.

Sarah Holliday is a higher education administrator with over seven years of experience working with nontraditional and traditional-aged students in various areas related to career development, professional development, and personal enrichment. In addition to coaching students, Holliday works as an adjunct, teaching English, career development, and business courses in asynchronous, hybrid, and synchronous formats.

Holliday holds a BA from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in English communication and technology and a master's from Walden University in instructional design and technology (training and performance improvement). She is currently pursuing her doctor of science in information and interaction design from the University of Baltimore. Holliday also possesses her Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) certificate from the Center for Credentialing and Education. She is passionate about education and technology and hopes to strengthen online learning for adult learners.

Sarah Holliday is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

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