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What is a Civil Engineering Degree?

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What is a Civil Engineering Degree? And can this degree provide your future blueprint?

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From national transportation systems to sewer systems and buildings, civil engineers plan, design, research, budget and analyze important infrastructure projects.

Civil engineering students can choose from this wide range of bachelor’s specialties. Options include construction management, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering, and water resource engineering.

With a degree in civil engineering, you can prepare for the following careers:

  • civil engineer
  • Surveyor
  • Design engineer
  • Estimator
  • Construction manager
  • Project Manager

Continue reading to learn more about what a civil engineering degree is and what you can do for you.

What skills does the Civil Engineering Program teach students?

A powerful civil engineering program does more than just provide students with a wide range of education in their civil engineering disciplines. It does more than just teach students geology, statics, structural design, hydraulics and hydrology, microintegration, and physics. You will also learn about the project management and communication skills required in the field.

Civil engineering programs teach both technical (“hard”) and human (“soft”) skills. Skills vary by academic level.

Undergraduate skills

Graduate skills

  • Surveying
  • Computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Quote
  • Physics
  • Math
  • Decision making
  • Oral communication
  • statistics
  • Linear programming
  • Advanced engineering design
  • Project collaboration
  • project management

What is your degree in civil engineering?

Programs ranging from associates to PhDs and various civil engineering degrees offer a variety of career opportunities. Below, we analyze each civil engineering degree pass, required courses, and potential career paths available after obtaining a degree.

Bachelor of Civil Engineering

length: 2 years
price: $ 4,000 to $ 30,000
Graduate Career: Civil Engineer, Civil Specialist, Engineering Aid

With an associate degree in civil engineering, a degree holder completes a coursework of surveying, computer-assisted drafting, estimation, and cartography. It is difficult to offer this program online as students conduct field and lab tests.

This degree will help you learn the basics of civil engineering. However, quasi-program graduates are not eligible to work as full civil engineers. They can choose to work as assistants as civil engineers, cartographers, land surveyors, CAD designers, and inspectors.

These entry-level carriers can be found at civil engineering companies, research firms, public authorities, or materials laboratories.

Bachelor of Civil Engineering

length: 4 years
price: $ 18,000 to $ 60,000
Graduate Career: Surveying engineer, civil engineer, environmental engineer

A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering usually takes four years. Courses in applied mathematics, engineering economics, fluid mechanics, construction materials, geological engineering, geological surveys, structural design, etc. are required.

Students complete math and math courses and learn to apply methods to real-world problems, taking into account environmental and ethical considerations.

After the basic course, the program focuses on completing computer-aided design projects individually or in teams. The Bachelor’s Degree Program offers technical electives that allow students to take more classes in their favorite sub-fields.

Many civil engineering degree jobs require a minimum of bachelor’s degree. Graduates can consider a career as an environmental engineer, transportation planner, structural engineer, geotechnical engineer, or civil engineer.

Bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering exist, but they are rare. The Engineering Technology Certification Committee (ABET) only certifies a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. Students wishing to obtain a Professional Engineer (PE) license, which is an important milestone in most civil engineering careers, must have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

Master of Civil Engineering

length: 2 years
price: $ 10,000-60,000
Graduate Career: Construction manager, senior civil engineer, transportation engineer

A master’s degree in civil engineering is a good choice for students who want to be more competitive in the job market or who want to take advanced coursework to specialize in a particular sub-field.

A master’s degree is an industry standard for civil engineering students who specialize in structural engineering, as learning building and bridge design requires extensive coursework.

These programs emphasize learning theory and practical application. Many programs focus on collaborative work as they are essential skills in this area. Possible courses include physical hydrology, environmental monitoring statistics, pipe system engineering, and linear programming.

Students can choose from many disciplines, including:

  • Sustainable infrastructure
  • Environmental engineering
  • Soil engineering
  • Hydrology and fluid mechanics
  • Structural engineering and mechanics
  • Transportation engineering

These disciplines take 12 months to 2 years full-time to complete.

A master’s degree prepares students for a career as a hydrologist or structural, geotechnical, transport, design, or transport engineer.

PhD in Civil Engineering

length: 3-5 years
price: $ 24,000 to $ 90,000
Graduate Career: Civil engineer, regulatory advisor, government civil engineer, university instructor

At the beginning of your PhD, an advisor will assist you in choosing a course.

Students typically spend the first two years of the program meeting the requirements of a core course that includes high-level math and technical electives. For the last few years, we will focus on research in the discipline of your choice.

Students can choose from many areas of civil engineering expertise, including:

  • construction
  • Hydrology and fluid mechanics
  • Ground engineering and ground environmental engineering
  • Transportation engineering
  • Structural and seismic engineering

Establish a position as an industry leader with a PhD. Many graduates are hydrologists, researchers, or engineering educators.

Civil engineering program certification

When choosing a civil engineering program, it is important to investigate its accreditation. Choose a program accredited by ABET, a non-profit, non-governmental organization that ensures that your engineering program meets certain quality standards.

According to experts, PE licensed students should opt for an ABET-certified civil engineering program. These degrees count as four of the eight years of experience required to apply for a PE license.

Choosing an accreditation program also means that you can take advantage of federal financial assistance and transfer credits if you need to transfer to a new school.

How difficult is a civil engineering degree?

Obtaining a civil engineering degree can be difficult at an early stage for students without math and science skills. These early courses prepare students to succeed in more challenging courses such as strength of materials and statics.

Many programs have a heavy workload on lab work and group projects.

Encounter courses in structural design, geotechnical engineering, soil mechanics, transportation engineering, fluid mechanics, hydrodynamics, transportation engineering, construction management, contracts and more.

If a higher level course is daunting, seek help through the program’s Learning Support Center.

This article was reviewed by PE Sierra Gawlowski

Headshot of Sierra Gaurowski, a smiling brunette woman.

PE’s Sierra Gawlowski holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and is a professional engineer licensed in Washington State. She has worked for private engineering consulting firms and public institutions. Sierra enjoys teaching engineering students and junior staff. She also leads a project team of borderless engineers and is currently on the board of directors of Kilowatts for Humanity.

Gawlowski is a paid member of the RedVentures Education Freelance Review Network.

The final review is April 15, 2022.