What does the Burj Kalifa in Dubai, the Olympic game stadiums and the Pyramids of Giza have in common? They were all made possible by the work of civil engineers, who have been employed ever since humans traded their nomadic lifestyles for permanent homes. Today, civil engineers are responsible for designing and implementing the construction of a wide variety of infrastructure, ranging from airports to hydro-electric dams. This article will tell you about the profession; how much a civil engineer makes, key responsibilities and how to become one. Interested in knowing a civil engineer’s salary? Read on.
Civil Engineer Salary
The average salary of a civil engineer in the United States is about $80,000 per annum, or $38-$39 per hour. The top 10% of earners make over $126,000, whilst the lowest earn $51,000 or more. Earnings depend greatly on job experience. Rookie engineers can expect a starting salary of $50,000 – $55,000, which will gradually increase as they become more experienced. Area of specialisation also affects salary. The top 5 paying industries are mainly private sector and government comprised of building constructions, federal, state and local government. Another factor is location. In 2013, the top 5 paying states were Texas, Alaska, California, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
In addition to above-average salary, civil engineering has other perks attached. Bonuses may be awarded if projects are finished ahead of schedule and employment opportunities are growing.
A civil engineer’s goal is to design and oversee construction of buildings, or maintain structures that already exist, such as bridges, railways, sewage systems and road networks. There are a number of different fields into which a civil engineer can specialise; including coastal, architectural, environmental or transportation. Although their key responsibilities differ slightly, each discipline has similarities. In general, duties can be split into three parts; planning, implementing and maintenance.
Planning involves visiting potential sites and determining if a project proposal is feasible regarding, for example, soil type, relief, environmental impacts or cost. Possible problem areas are flagged, and all findings are then compiled into reports for clients. Designs must be created using sophisticated computer software, and complex calculations are done by hand. They must also select appropriate materials for their design, and then create a budget for clients.
After the design is completed, implementation begins. Civil engineers co-ordinate with a number of other professionals such as architects, site managers and sub-contractors, who each have a key role to play. Engineers supervise the construction process, ensuring projects are completed on time, and within the client’s budget. After construction, structures must be maintained and routinely inspected for damage.
Civil engineers are based in comfortable office settings but frequently travel to other locations. Many tasks involve computers such as research, report writing, and drawing designs, which can often be carried out at home. Engineers will need to routinely inspect on-going projects, meet with clients or professionals and visit potential sites, all of which involve leaving the office. Civil engineers usually work in team environments, especially for larger projects. 25% of engineers work more than 40 hours per week, although working overtime is occasionally needed to meet deadlines.
A skilled engineer will have exceptional problem solving skills, and a cool head. Budget cuts and unpredictable weather changes can derail project timelines and it’s up to engineers to think of creative solutions to ensure projects finish on time. Despite these stressful times, the occupation boasts high job satisfaction, which is attributed to the sense of achievement when a project is completed, intellectual stimulation, and that “no two days are the same”.
How to become a Civil Engineer
To become a civil engineer, employers expect a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in civil or structuring engineering. Many universities offer 4 year Bachelor’s degrees, with a curriculum heavy in maths, physics and project management. Students will also partake in field work and laboratory sessions. Employers are looking for graduates that are good communicators, have strong organisation and planning skills, as well as attention to detail.
Furthering your education with a Master’s degree opens up opportunities into more specialized roles. Prospective employers look for some form of work experience, so consider choosing a school that offers paid industrial placements which will give you a competitive edge over other graduates, as well as helping you gain invaluable industry contacts.
Alternatively, one can pursue vocational training. Trainees are required to complete 4 years of work with an Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) accredited employer until they can become a certified professional. The ICE provides a list of accredited employers which you can choose from.
The number of civil engineering jobs is predicted to increase by 20% from 2012 – 2022, which is higher than average. A growing American population puts pressure on water and sewage systems, creating demand for engineers. Also, all infrastructure ages, so civil engineers will always be needed for constant maintenance and repair work.
Although job opportunities are increasing, civil engineering disciplines are not enjoying equal growth. In some states, demand for residential land development has ceased whereas in others, public projects and non-residential construction jobs are thriving. Civil engineers also have a large role to play as the government implements renewable energy projects, such as constructing wind turbines and solar panel plants.
Architects plan and design different buildings. Whereas a civil engineer is primarily concerned with scientific and engineering aspects of a project, architects are more focused on aesthetic principles of design. They will typically take art-related courses alongside engineering in their studies. The average salary of an architect was $73,090 in May 2012 (BLS). Daily tasks include meeting with clients, designing intricate scaled drawings of buildings and sourcing materials fitting with specifications.
Construction managers overlook and supervise construction projects. Construction managers earn slightly more than architects, with an average salary of $82,790 per year. Key responsibilities include preparing project cost estimates, reporting progress to clients and co-ordinating with other professionals, such as civil engineers, electricians and plumbers.