Building the Elements of Civilization with Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is a specialized field of engineering that focuses on the construction of our bridges, roads, buildings, airports and much more. One of the oldest disciplines of the engineering occupation, civil engineers often find themselves working on a variety of projects over the course of a career. Some of the common areas of employment are within the local, state or national governments and in the private sector as individualized engineering firms.

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Civil Engineering Degree Information

In order to obtain a civil engineering job, you will be required to obtain a civil engineering degree. Students may get a certificate in civil engineering, an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree or a higher degree. Undergraduate degrees in civil engineering will give students a basic idea of how cities and surrounding areas are constructed and designed for the population. This will qualify the student for many entry-level civil engineering jobs as well as set the groundwork for more advanced positions in civil engineering.

Study Options

Students interested in a career in civil engineering can major in civil engineering during their undergraduate education. Typically, this will result in a Bachelor of Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Engineering after approximately four years of study. Students will learn basic ideas in project management and design as well as supplementary courses in areas such as mathematics and physics. Each specific area of civil engineering will usually be touched upon briefly. If a student chooses to pursue a higher degree in civil engineering, he will take more courses focused on a specific civil engineering discipline.

Advanced Degrees

While a Bachelor of Engineering or a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering may be sufficient for many civil engineering jobs, further education in a specific subset of civil engineering can improve a studentís career options and desirability as an employee. The natural progression from a bachelor's degree in civil engineering is a Master of Science in some area of civil engineering.

Master Of Science Degree In Civil Engineering

Students looking to continue their civil engineering education after graduating from college or university with a bachelor's degree can choose from a number of disciplines, including a Master of Science in Engineering or a Master of Engineering specializing in Construction Engineering and Management, Structural Engineering and Mechanics, Transportation Engineering or Sanitary Engineering.

Further Education

Once acquiring at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, most civil engineers will pursue professional certification. Students can take courses to prepare themselves for the certification exam if they so desire. Professional engineers have a wide range of engineering careers open to them even if they choose not to pursue a master's degree.

Choosing A Degree

High school students who are curious about how the structures and access ways that we use every day will love learning about civil engineering. Individuals interested in using their math and science skills in a productive way to help create a safer, more efficient and more desirable habitat for their fellow man should gravitate towards a civil engineering degree.

Career Opportunities

The career path a civil engineer will follow will depend heavily on his level of experience and the sub-discipline of civil engineering he chooses to pursue. Construction engineers will naturally be coveted by construction companies, often in a management role, assessing the costs of approaching various projects in different ways. Environmental engineers will find themselves in green positions, helping with areas such as water purification and waste management. Hydraulic engineers will work with the flow, containment and transport of water, and structural engineers will obtain positions that focus on the design and structural analysis of buildings.

Earning Potential

Salaries for civil engineers vary considerably according to specialization and experience, but the median income for civil engineers in general according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is $87,060, with the highest-paid civil engineers making over $100,000 a year.

Getting Your Degree Online

Associate degrees, bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and certification courses in civil engineering are all available through online distance learning programs. These programs can be completed in a few years, and if the coursework is taken at an accredited online college or university, the degree can be used just as easily as an offline degree to qualify for many civil engineer positions. An online civil engineering program is also ideal for continuing education students who have had to put their education on hold in order to pursue other work or family obligations. Online programs allow students to do the work according to their own schedule, making the degree achievable for virtually anyone with the drive to succeed.

Getting Your Degree Offline

Many students will choose to pursue their civil engineering degree at a traditional college or university. Students moving straight from high school to the world of civil engineering may naturally gravitate towards a brick-and-mortar institution with a top civil engineering program. Those who go on to a master's degree at a physical college or university should be sure to find the best program for the type of engineering that interests them. Students will generally be required to devote more time to a program from a traditional university, but many report that the experience is worth that commitment.

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Civil Engineering Degree FAQs

How Does Civil Engineering Differ From Traditional Engineering?

Civil engineering is a specialized area that places a significant focus on the transportation, environmental and construction industries. Civil engineers design our roadways, bridges, tunnels, dams and more. While doing so, they must keep a keen eye on the costs of the project, as well as how the project affects the environment, safety and government regulations.

What Kinds of Online Degrees Are Available in Civil Engineering?

Students who enroll in civil engineering programs online are usually engineering graduates looking to further their careers and education by obtaining a master's degree. Civil engineering is a master's degree program, so students must first complete a bachelor's degree in engineering before enrolling.

Are There Specialties Within the Civil Engineering Occupation?

Yes. Civil engineering students can choose a specialized area of study while pursuing an online degree program, if the program offers the opportunity. Some areas of interest may include water resources, construction, structural engineering, transportation, environmental engineering and geotechnical engineering.

What Can I Do With a Civil Engineering Degree?

Employers are continuously looking out for individuals who offer a well-balanced mix of education and experience and this is especially evident in the civil engineering industry. Many of America's roadways, bridges and tunnels are in need of repair and modern improvements.

As such, the civil engineering industry needs personnel with the specialized training necessary to manage these jobs. With this being a national-level need, there is excellent job growth in the civil engineering field.

What Is Distance Learning Like?

Distance learning, or online learning, is an excellent and economical way for you to reach your academic goals. For starters, the staff at the accredited college or university providing the program designs all of your classes. Accreditation assures a quality education that mirrors campus programs.

Next, online degree programs can fit within your daily schedule, meaning that you will not have to stop working in order to complete the programs. Students who enroll in online degree programs are also eligible for all of the financial benefits available to traditional college students. Simply put, for the full-time engineer, there is no easier way for you to obtain your master's degree in civil engineering than with an online degree program from an accredited college or university.

Civil Engineering Student Guide

Civil engineering is the study of how the physical man-made environment that surrounds us is designed, built and maintained, as well as how to use the natural world in that design and construction. Civil engineering covers the study of not only buildings, but bridges, roads and other access points over both land and sea.

Civil Engineering Books

Quality instructional texts and explanatory volumes will be crucial to a student's understanding of civil engineering. Your civil engineering degree program may direct students to the specific books they would like them to use, but some very helpful books include the ìFoundation Engineering Handbook by Robert W. Day, the "Structural Engineer's Professional Training Manual" by David K. Adams and "Management of Bridges" by Highway Agency, TRL. A complete resource for almost all the civil engineering books students are likely to need can be found at the ASCE Publications website (

Civil Engineering Articles And Databases

There are a wide range of different areas of civil engineering, and each one has a multitude of articles which students may use in their civil engineering studies and research. To find quality civil engineering articles, students will need a comprehensive civil engineering database. One database students will want to avail themselves of is the Civil Engineering Database ( The CEDB offers access to over 100,000 civil engineering articles and publications, so you have a great chance of finding what you need through this database. For further study, consider the ASCE Research Library (, which offers direct access to the American Society of Civil Engineers' publications and research.

Online Civil Engineering Journals

Due to the many different branches in civil engineering, the number of civil engineering journals is expansive. A brief sampling of civil engineering journals includes: The Journal of Bridge Engineering, Civil Engineering Magazine, The Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, The Journal of Engineering Mechanics and the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management. Information about these journals and many others can be accessed through the Civil Engineering Database and the ASCE Research Library.

Other Civil Engineering Research Tools

The American Society of Civil Engineers website ( is an ideal resource for civil engineering research. The site offers access to the ASCE Research Library and Civil Engineering Database as well as providing links to other research, civil engineering resources, civil engineering news and career opportunities.

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