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Civil Engineering: Requirements for Becoming a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers work on construction, renovation, and rebuilding projects. They often work alongside architects, technologists, and other industry professionals. Engineers may alternate time between working in an office and visiting sites. Duties may range from reviewing government regulations and city ordinances to designing highways.

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Educational Requirements for Civil Engineers

A bachelor's degree from an accredited program is the minimum requirement for most civil engineering jobs. Aspiring civil engineers may look to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) for a list of approved programs (www.abet.org). High school students may consider advanced courses in mathematics, such as calculus and trigonometry to prepare for college.

Core Courses

Aspiring civil engineers generally begin their college careers by enrolling in chemistry, physics, and advanced mathematics courses. Some programs may include classes in computer-aided design (CAD) as part of the core requirements. Additionally, students may take courses in engineering statistics in order to develop their computational skills. Pre-major courses may also cover fundamental engineering principles and concepts.

Major Requirements

After completing core course requirements, civil engineering students delve into advanced topics, such as thermodynamics and structural analysis. Courses may include the completion of a design project, in which students assess structural integrity of materials. This may require the use of CAD programs to test their designs.

Most programs generally require students to complete laboratory courses in which they analyze substances ranging from soil to concrete. These courses help students identify basic properties of materials, as well as potential problems from using them.

Licensing Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), civil engineers who provide their services to the public must complete professional engineer (PE) state licensing requirements (www.bls.gov). Requirements vary by state, but generally include accruing four years of work experience and completing two exams administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors (www.ncees.org).

Career and Salary Information

The BLS notes that most states have implemented mandatory continuing education requirements to maintain a license. Credit may be given for attending seminars, participating in workshops and completing online classes. According to the BLS, civil engineers can expect a 19% job increase between 2010 and 2020. It was reported by the BLS that the median annual salary for civil engineers was $79,340 in May 2012.

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