What is the FE Exam

What Does a Civil Engineer Do?

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, and maintain construction projects and systems. These include roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and water-sewage systems. As cities continue to grow, civil engineers need to assist in the development of new and improved water systems, as well as renewable energy projects. Civil engineers play a pivotal role in acquiring permits for project launches and often oversee the construction of wind and solar farms.

Civil Engineering Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineer employment is expected to increase by 11% over the next eight years, which is much higher than the average growth rate for employment, which is 7%. This average increase can be partially attributed to the need for project management necessary to rebuild bridges and repair roads as infrastructure continues to age. From 2016 - 2026, civil engineering jobs are expected to grow by 32,200.

Civil Engineering History

To give you a better idea of what all of these civil engineers actually do, let’s take a look at a few famous civil engineers from history. Benjamin Wright was declared the Father of American Civil Engineering by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Wright was the chief engineer during the construction of the Erie Canal. Squire Whipple is another important civil engineer in history, credited with designing and building a weight lock scale that possessed a 300-ton capacity and was used to weigh boats on the Erie Canal.

Civil engineers have also played major roles in improving our world, including assisting Haiti in its recovery after the 2010 disaster, constructing the Panama Canal, and designing the Burj Khalifa, the world’s second-tallest building.

Civil Engineering Job Duties

Civil engineers help shape our cities by designing transportation systems, creating school buildings, and figuring out how to turn natural resources into power for our homes. Their typical roles include managing teams, creating CAD models, and designing structures that meet particular clients’ needs. Other civil engineering tasks include:

  • Analyzing survey reports, maps, drawings, blueprints, and aerial photography in order to plan projects efficiently
  • Computing load and grade requirements, water flow rates, and materials’ stress factors for design specifications
  • Inspecting project sites and monitoring progress
  • Estimating quantities and material costs (to determine project feasibility)
  • Compiling public reports (bid proposals, environmental impact statements, property descriptions)
  • Testing soils and materials to determine their strength in different conditions for use in large projects

If you’re in the market for a “people-serving” profession, and you want to play a major role in constructing the world around you, civil engineering might be the right profession for you. Get started by preparing to take the FE Civil exam.


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