Career Information

CNN Money ranks the Best Jobs in America, those top careers with big growth, great pay, and satisfying work. 

Check the list for Civil Engineer, Transportation Engineer, and Environmental  Engineer!

Civil Engineer
Median pay:  $81,200
Top pay:  $116,000
10-year job growth:  8%

Transportation Engineer
Median pay:  $80,400
Top pay:  $103,000
10-year job growth:  8%

Environmental Engineer
Median pay:  $81.500
Top pay:  $116,000
10-year job growth:  12%

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil Engineering, considered the oldest engineering field, includes the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the infrastructure around us:  roads, airports, railroads, buildings, bridges, water and wastewater treatment plants, sewers, drainage, flood control, water supply, landfills, and other facilities.  Everything civil engineers do affects our daily lives in many ways.

When you take a shower and brush your teeth, the water comes from a water treatment plant through a network of pipes, designed by civil engineers.  When the dirty water leaves your house through a sewer, it ends up at a wastewater treatment plant designed by civil engineers where it is treated and released to a nearby stream of river.  Going to school or work, the roads and bridges you use were designed by civil engineers.  Civil engineers also design, for example,  inlet drains along curbs and gutters to carry rainfall away, the structure or skeleton and foundation of buildings, transmission lines that carry electricity, and the sanitary landfill that receives your garbage.  

What Does It Take to Be a Civil Engineer?

Engineers enjoy the challenge of solving problems, being part of the solution, and working as part of a team.  An aptitude for math and science is very helpful as well as working with others, speaking and writing well, and showing leadership skills.  Civil engineers work with engineers, technicians, office staff, economists, social scientists, geologists, biologists, chemists, and the general public to a great degree.  Since many projects are publicly funded and require public input, the engineer must clearly communicate technical information to clients and the public, learn to think on his/her feet, and keep calm under pressure.

Where Do Civil Engineers Work?

Most of them work for consulting firms, which design projects and produce plans and specifications for building them, or government agencies, ranging from cities to the federal government, or perhaps the military or manufacturers.  Initially, they work on design but later will manage projects and do less design.  Other areas include sales, teaching, and research.

What is Construction Engineering?  

Construction engineering concerns the planning and management of the construction of structures such as highways, bridges, airports, railroads, buildings, dams, and reservoirs. Construction of such projects requires knowledge of engineering and management principles and business procedures, economics, and human behavior. Construction engineers engage in the design of temporary structures, cost estimating, planning and scheduling, materials procurement, equipment selection, and cost control.

With a degree in construction engineering you may plan a new project, organize work staff, set up schedules, consider safety issues, do financial planning, work with subcontractors, and interact with clients on an ongoing basis.  With experience you can move up through management and have more responsibility for the overall project.

What Does It Take to Be a Construction Engineer?

A career in construction engineering is ideal if you are looking for fast-paced and people-oriented job opportunities.  You need to be able to work individually as well as part of a team of engineering, management, and business professionals.  There are challenges in planning, organizing, directing, and controlling construction engineering projects.  An engineer must clearly communicate technical information to clients and the public, learn to think on his/her feet, and keep calm under pressure.

Where Do Construction Engineers Work?

Most of them work for consulting firms, which design projects and produce plans and specifications for building them, or government agencies, ranging from cities to the federal government, or perhaps the military or manufacturers.  Initially, they work on design but later will manage projects and do less design.  Other areas include sales, teaching, and research.

What is Construction Management?             

A construction manager coordinates the different processes and timetables necessary to complete a project. These individuals mediate between owners, designers, contractors, and suppliers. As such, they act as overseers of the entire process, from inception to design to execution.

What Does It Take to Be a Construction Manager?

A construction manager focuses on the coordinating the different needs of a project on a large scale. The construction manager is responsible for maintaining the relationship with all the contractors and subcontractors to ensure the smooth and timely completion of a project. He/she defines the structure of the project management team and assigns responsibilities to each member, arranges and maintains project relationships with the trade contractors and designers associated with particular aspects of the project, sets timetables for the completion of certain sections and resolves conflicts as they arise.  The manager must develop plans to handle external concerns, including handling equipment and materials suppliers, developing plans with local emergency and fire departments for on-site safety, and risk management.

Where Do Construction Managers Work?

Construction managers can work in companies that handle residential construction, which includes homes, apartments, condominium, and other types; commercial construction, which includes shopping centers, schools, banks, hospitals, and government buildings; heavy civil construction, which includes transportation infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railroads, and airports; industrial construction, which includes chemical plants, oil refineries, manufacturing plants, and pipelines; and environmental construction which includes sanitary sewers, waste management, and clean water.

Career Web Sites for Additional Information

Occupational Outlook Handbook  

O*NET OnLine 

Career Cornerstone Center