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Civil Engineers

At a Glance

  • Plan and design transportation or water systems or structures
  • Research and analyze data regarding project sites
  • Use computers heavily
  • Usually work in teams
  • Work both indoors and outdoors
  • Often travel to work sites
  • Have at least a bachelor's degree
  • May need a license

Career summary

Civil engineers plan and supervise large construction projects.

#matches 2421 Civil Engineers

# review 3/25/19 lh

Civil engineers work on projects such as:

To begin planning a new project, civil engineers gather a lot of data. To gather data, they:

Civil engineers create and analyze reports, maps, and blueprints. They compute energy use, water flow rates, and grade requirements. They also estimate costs for materials, equipment, and labor. They assess risk and write environmental impact statements if required.

Throughout the building process, civil engineers work with other engineers. They often work on teams, especially for large or complex projects. Sometimes they manage other engineers on a project.

Some civil engineers direct construction at the project site. During construction, they inspect the site to monitor work progress. They also make sure that the project follows the design and meets environmental and safety standards.

Some civil engineers specialize in one area such as:

In today's green economy, project goals always include using less water, less electricity, and creating less pollution. Some civil engineers manage projects to clean up polluted areas.

Related careers

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to civil engineers.

Common work activities

Civil engineers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, civil engineers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Civil engineers frequently:

It is important for civil engineers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for civil engineers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Civil engineers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a civil engineer, you typically need to:

Education after high school

Most students prepare for this field by earning a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Many four-year colleges and universities offer this program of study. You may need between four and five years to complete this program.

Some jobs require a master's or doctoral degree (PhD). For instance, if you are interested in teaching civil engineering you need a PhD. Also, many engineering students go to graduate school to specialize in an area of civil engineering.

Work experience

You should consider participating in an internship with an engineering firm while you are in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

On-the-job training

In general, civil engineers receive one to two years of on-the-job training. New graduates work under the guidance of experienced engineers. In large companies, you may also receive formal classroom training. As you gain knowledge and experience you have greater independence and work on more difficult tasks.

Military training

The military does not provide initial training in this field. However, the military may provide work experience to civil engineering graduates.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements. Engineers use math and science frequently. Try to take math classes through Calculus and science classes through Physics.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

A bachelor's degree in civil engineering is usually required for entry-level jobs. College graduates with a degree in math or a physical science may be able to qualify for some entry-level jobs. Employers may require a master's degree or higher for research, consulting, and managerial jobs. Graduate training is required for engineering faculty positions.

Employers prefer to hire civil engineers who are creative and analytical. They look for people who can solve problems and work with abstract ideas. Oral and written communication skills are also important. Employers look for people who can work as part of a team. Employers also prefer civil engineers who have strong computer skills.


Pay attention to your interpersonal skills as well as your technical skills. Work experience and a professional license are helpful. Opportunities are best for those willing to relocate not only in Washington, but also nationally. Civil engineers with some training in environmental or transportation planning are likely to fare best. Get work experience with construction or engineering firms while in college to make it easier to find employment upon graduation.

Costs to workers

Some workers may wish to join a professional association, which may have annual dues. Workers may have to pay for continuing education classes to keep up with changes in the field.


Engineers employed in responsible positions in government or in firms offering services to the public, or who stamp their work as being done by an engineer, must be licensed by the Washington State Department of Licensing.

Engineer-in-training licensing requirements include:

Professional engineer licensing requirements include:

There are different requirements for engineers who work with structures.

Engineers who want to be licensed must pay an exam fee to the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and a $65 fee for the initial state exam application. The renewal fee is $116 every two years. Not all civil engineers must be licensed.

For information on testing, contact:

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (external link)
PO Box 1686
Clemson, SC 29633-1686

For licensing information, contact:

Washington State Department of Licensing
Board of Registration for Professional Engineers and
Land Surveyors Licensing Program (external link)

PO Box 9025
Olympia, WA 98507-9025

#Fine 5/8/13 lh. Checked section; updated NCEES fee for PE exam to $350 & state renewal to $116, 2/26/14 cj. No change to licensing info 3/22/16 cj. Couldn't find licensing fee for engineers-in-training so deleted, rest ok, 2/19/18 cj.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Civil engineers (SOC 17-2051)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $30.06 $35.49 $42.52 $52.47 $62.43
Monthly $5,209 $6,150 $7,369 $9,093 $10,819
Yearly $62,520 $73,810 $88,450 $109,140 $129,860
    Bellingham Hourly $28.52 $33.40 $37.74 $45.43 $53.32
Monthly $4,943 $5,788 $6,540 $7,873 $9,240
Yearly $59,314 $69,477 $78,487 $94,490 $110,920
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $28.70 $36.10 $43.03 $49.27 $58.29
Monthly $4,974 $6,256 $7,457 $8,538 $10,102
Yearly $59,706 $75,085 $89,489 $102,488 $121,240
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $29.26 $31.63 $36.24 $39.96 $47.79
Monthly $5,071 $5,481 $6,280 $6,925 $8,282
Yearly $60,871 $65,784 $75,387 $83,121 $99,393
    Longview Hourly $29.53 $34.36 $39.59 $48.03 $58.41
Monthly $5,118 $5,955 $6,861 $8,324 $10,122
Yearly $61,414 $71,473 $82,348 $99,914 $121,498
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $30.37 $34.69 $37.02 $44.41 $58.34
Monthly $5,263 $6,012 $6,416 $7,696 $10,110
Yearly $63,174 $72,158 $77,005 $92,371 $121,341
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $30.96 $36.71 $40.87 $47.38 $51.79
Monthly $5,365 $6,362 $7,083 $8,211 $8,975
Yearly $64,388 $76,354 $85,003 $98,561 $107,723
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $31.14 $36.35 $44.09 $54.53 $63.01
Monthly $5,397 $6,299 $7,641 $9,450 $10,920
Yearly $64,778 $75,618 $91,722 $113,425 $131,058
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $26.73 $30.38 $37.01 $42.84 $48.40
Monthly $4,632 $5,265 $6,414 $7,424 $8,388
Yearly $55,595 $63,186 $76,992 $89,103 $100,662
    Vancouver Hourly $28.62 $34.69 $43.15 $52.05 $62.50
Monthly $4,960 $6,012 $7,478 $9,020 $10,831
Yearly $59,531 $72,159 $89,757 $108,258 $130,000
    Walla Walla Hourly $35.92 $43.08 $46.66 $54.07 $55.49
Monthly $6,225 $7,466 $8,086 $9,370 $9,616
Yearly $74,728 $89,595 $97,042 $112,447 $115,410
    Wenatchee Hourly $30.94 $37.01 $43.72 $50.20 $58.87
Monthly $5,362 $6,414 $7,577 $8,700 $10,202
Yearly $64,359 $76,994 $90,930 $104,418 $122,434
    Yakima Hourly $28.01 $33.53 $37.01 $40.87 $46.66
Monthly $4,854 $5,811 $6,414 $7,083 $8,086
Yearly $58,251 $69,760 $76,998 $84,999 $97,046
United States Hourly $26.34 $32.42 $41.65 $54.25 $68.54
Monthly $4,565 $5,618 $7,218 $9,402 $11,878
Yearly $54,780 $67,430 $86,640 $112,850 $142,560

Earnings vary greatly based on the civil engineer's level of education. Those with advanced degrees usually earn higher wages. Wages also vary by area of the country.

Benefits vary by employer. Most full-time civil engineers receive benefits such as paid vacation, sick leave, and health insurance. Government employees usually also receive a retirement plan.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook


The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Civil Engineers (SOC 17-2051)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 12,463 6.6% 16.1% 1,083
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 220 5.9% 13.4% 18
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 350 5.4% 8.6% 29
    Benton and Franklin Counties 1,823 -5.0% 15.0% 106
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 404 4.0% 11.9% 32
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 744 6.9% 15.2% 65
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 923 7.6% 14.1% 82
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 406 10.6% 14.6% 40
    King County 5,321 7.9% 19.6% 478
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 265 4.2% 13.8% 21
    Pierce County 761 12.4% 15.2% 77
    Snohomish County 480 8.8% 12.4% 44
    Spokane County 572 5.2% 13.9% 48
United States 326,800 6.3% 5.2% 28,300

National employment

Nearly half of all civil engineers work in firms that provide engineering services. Another one-third work for federal, state, and local government agencies. Most of these civil engineers work for highway and public works departments.

Civil engineers usually work near major industrial and commercial centers. However, some projects are in remote areas or in foreign countries. In some jobs, civil engineers move from place to place to work on different projects.

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for civil engineers will be strong due to increased government funding for infrastructure projects such as roads, highways, and water systems. They will be needed to design large buildings and building complexes. In addition to job growth, openings will result from the need to replace civil engineers who retire or leave the field.

Job opportunities will vary by geographic area. Jobs may decrease during economic slowdowns, when construction slows down.

Other resources

American Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) (external link)
(This website provides a list of engineering-related programs accredited by ABET)
415 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
American Concrete Institute (external link)
38888 Country Club Drive
Farmington Hills, MI 48331
American Institute of Hydrology (external link)
Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 1230 Lincoln Drive
Engineering D - Mail Code 6603
Carbondale, IL 62901
American Road and Transportation Builders Association (external link)
250 E St SW
Suite 900
Washington, DC 20024
American Society of Civil Engineers (external link)
1801 Alexander Bell Drive
Reston, VA 20191
Discover Engineering (external link)
eGFI - Dream Up the Future (external link)
Engineer Girl! (external link)
National Academy of Engineering
Engineering Your Future (external link)
Marinecareers.net (external link)
National Academy of Engineering (external link)
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (external link)
National Association of Women in Construction (external link)
327 South Adams Street
Fort Worth, TX 76104
National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (external link)
280 Seneca Creek Road
Seneca, SC 29678
National Ground Water Association (external link)
601 Dempsey Road
Westerville, OH 43081
National Society of Professional Engineers (external link)
1420 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Society of Women Engineers (external link)
130 East Randolph Street, Suite 3500
Chicago, IL 60601
Technology Student Association (external link)
1904 Association Drive
Reston, VA 20191-1540
The Civil Engineer (external link)
Washington Society of Professional Engineers (external link)
Washington State Department of Transportation Employment Opportunities (external link)
Washington State Science & Engineering Fair (external link)
Water Environment Federation (external link)
601 Wythe Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Strong Interest Inventory

Holland occupational cluster