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Civil Engineers
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Description: what do they do?
Perform engineering duties in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities, such as roads, railroads, airports, bridges, harbors, channels, dams, irrigation projects, pipelines, power plants, and water and sewage systems.
Also known as:
City Engineer, Civil Engineer, County Engineer, Design Engineer, Engineer, Geotechnical Engineer, Licensed Engineer, Project Engineer, Railroad Design Consultant, Structural Engineer

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: From 4,500-year-old Egyptian pyramids and ancient Roman aqueducts to today's monolithic bridges and giant skyscrapers, civil engineering has a long and impressive history. Civil engineers design and maintain many of the structures around us- including buildings, roads, bridges, and the systems that move water and waste for our communities. For every project, civil engineers must meet regulatory standards, prioritize safety, consider environmental risks and the endurance of materials, and anticipate costs for building as well as long-term maintenance. From entry-level positions to project leads, this is a team-based career that requires continuous problem solving. It's typical for civil engineers to specialize. Construction engineers manage large construction projects... Geotechnical engineers ensure the solid foundation of engineering projects like tunnels and tall buildings... Structural engineers design and evaluate plans for major buildings, bridges, and dams and make sure they are built to last... Transportation engineers plan roadway construction and maintenance, as well as design airports, subways, and metro transit systems. Civil engineers often work outdoors at construction sites to monitor progress and troubleshoot any problems that come up. Most work full time. They need a bachelor's degree in civil engineering... one of its specialties... or in civil engineering technology. A Professional Engineering license is required for many jobs. Civil engineering is a complex field, but it's one that leaves a lasting mark.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Please note that this does not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different outlooks due to the rapidly changing economy. When new outlook information is developed, it will be reflected here.

    Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings". This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations and My Next Move career outlook designations (based on Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections 2020-30). Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
Wisconsin
6,750
2018 Employment
7,090
2028 Employment
5%
Percent change
570
Annual projected job openings
United States
309,800
2020 Employment
335,100
2030 Employment
8%
Percent change
25,000
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2018 (for states) or 2020 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2028 (for states) or 2030 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and State Labor Market Information offices, 2018-28.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2020-30.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Civil Engineers in Wisconsin
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationWisconsinUnited States
10%$55,540$56,160
25%$65,590$69,100
Median$79,400$88,570
75%$98,550$115,110
90%$123,760$144,810


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Program, May 2020 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2018-19.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Coordinate safety or regulatory compliance activities.
  • Test characteristics of materials or structures.
  • Inspect facilities or sites to determine if they meet specifications or standards.
  • Direct construction activities.
  • Estimate technical or resource requirements for development or production projects.
  • Create graphical representations of civil structures.
  • Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
  • Evaluate technical data to determine effect on designs or plans.
  • Survey land or bodies of water to measure or determine features.
  • Develop technical methods or processes.
  • Investigate the environmental impact of projects.
  • Estimate operational costs.
  • Explain project details to the general public.
  • Prepare proposal documents.
  • Incorporate green features into the design of structures or facilities.
  • Analyze operational data to evaluate operations, processes or products.
  • Implement design or process improvements.
  • Design systems to reduce harmful emissions.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Building and Construction - Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Mathematics - Using math to solve problems.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Systems Analysis - Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it.
  • Time Management - Managing your time and the time of other people.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems.
  • Operations Analysis - Figuring out what a product or service needs to be able to do.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - Choosing the right type of math to solve a problem.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Number Facility - Adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing.
  • Fluency of Ideas - Coming up with lots of ideas.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Visualization - Imagining how something will look after it is moved around or changed.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Perceptual Speed - Quickly comparing groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
  • Far Vision - Seeing details that are far away.
  • Flexibility of Closure - Seeing hidden patterns.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Direct engineering activities, ensuring compliance with environmental, safety, or other governmental regulations.
  • Test soils or materials to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations, concrete, asphalt, or steel.
  • Inspect project sites to monitor progress and ensure conformance to design specifications and safety or sanitation standards.
  • Manage and direct the construction, operations, or maintenance activities at project site.
  • Compute load and grade requirements, water flow rates, or material stress factors to determine design specifications.
  • Plan and design transportation or hydraulic systems or structures, using computer-assisted design or drawing tools.
  • Provide technical advice to industrial or managerial personnel regarding design, construction, program modifications, or structural repairs.
  • Analyze survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, aerial photography, or other topographical or geologic data.
  • Direct or participate in surveying to lay out installations or establish reference points, grades, or elevations to guide construction.
  • Identify environmental risks and develop risk management strategies for civil engineering projects.
  • Estimate quantities and cost of materials, equipment, or labor to determine project feasibility.
  • Prepare or present public reports on topics such as bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements, or property and right-of-way descriptions.
  • Conduct studies of traffic patterns or environmental conditions to identify engineering problems and assess potential project impact.
  • Design energy-efficient or environmentally sound civil structures.
  • Analyze manufacturing processes or byproducts to identify engineering solutions to minimize the output of carbon or other pollutants.
  • Develop or implement engineering solutions to clean up industrial accidents or other contaminated sites.
  • Design or engineer systems to efficiently dispose of chemical, biological, or other toxic wastes.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.