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How to Become a Civil Engineer

Bachelor's degree

In order to become a civil engineer, a bachelor's degree is required in civil engineering or one of its related specialties. For senior positions, a graduate degree and licensure is required.

Education & Training

After obtaining a bachelor's degree, civil engineers need to gain licensure by an ABET accredited program. This is necessary to work as a Professional Engineer or PE. In some places, a bachelor's degree in civil engineering technology will meet the requirements for obtaining a license.

Coursework required includes: fluid dynamics, statistics, math, engineering mechanics and systems. Other courses may be required depending on the specialty. Laboratory work, classroom studies and fieldwork are included in training.

Approximately 1 in 5 civil engineers went on to complete their master's degree. This is often required for management positions along with previous experience and the PE license.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Any civil engineer selling their services to the public requires a license. This is necessary to supervise civil engineering technicians and civil engineers. It is also vital to exercise direct control over any project.

The FE or Fundamentals of Engineering Exam must be successfully passed at the start of the licensing process. Once requirements are met and the exam is passed, an engineer becomes an EIT or Engineer In Training or a CE or Civil Engineering Intern. Minimum experience must be met along with successful completion of other exams in order to qualify as a CE Professional.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Decision-Making Skills: Keeping track of numerous conflicting objectives is vital. For instance, determining safety concerns, financial deadlines and feasibility regarding plans is common. Regional and urban planners often rely on civil engineers for advice on these topics.

Leadership Skills: These engineers take complete responsibility for the research and projects they are involved with. As such, they need to sufficiently lead construction managers, surveyors, and civil engineering technicians to implement their projects.

Math Skills: Civil engineers have to use advanced mathematics including trigonometry and calculus to troubleshoot, analyze and design their projects.

Organizational Skills: Licensed civil engineers are the only ones legally allowed to sign design documents when it comes to infrastructure projects. This means that civil engineers must have the capacity to evaluate and monitor job site work as the project progresses to make sure that compliance is aligned with design documentation.

Problem-Solving Skills: Civil engineers work at the highest level of design, planning, construction and operation. They are dealing with multi-level projects or conducting associated research that requires them to continually evaluate and resolve intricate problems.

Writing Skills: Communication with other professionals including landscape architects, regional and urban planners and architects is required. Reports must be clearly written so that individuals who do not have any engineering background can comprehend the project.

How To Advance

Those with plenty of experience may move into management positions. Senior positions such as functional managers of maintenance, design, operation and construction are possible. Some move onto to become project managers.

Further advancement can be obtained with additional credentials available after licensing is granted.