Civil Engineering - Drill

Civil engineers are highly trained professionals that provide technical services throughout the world. Civil engineers are needed in big cities and small towns, working in both the government and private sectors. Within the profession are several major disciplines, summarized below.

Major Disciplines Within Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering icon

Transportation Engineering

Transportation engineers work to develop transportation systems that safely and efficiently move people and goods. Transportation engineers design highways and roads in both urban and rural areas and manage traffic systems to keep operations functioning effectively. They also plan rail, air and waterway transportation systems. Transportation engineers develop and incorporate new technologies to improve transportation and maintain safety.

Transportation icon

Geotechnical Engineering

Because nearly all of the built environment is ultimately supported by the ground, geotechnical engineers are needed to apply their knowledge of soil and rock mechanics in all civil engineering design. Work performed by geotechnical engineers includes performing site investigations, designing shallow and deep foundations, evaluating slope stability, conducting and overseeing materials testing, planning tunnels, and designing soil/rock and other ground improvements.

Geotechnical icon

Structural Engineering

Structural engineers apply scientific principles to design building, bridges and other structures to withstand the forces of nature and protect human safety. Structural engineers are knowledgeable of how structures and materials behave under loads. They design structures to perform their intended functions and be economical within the constraints of building code requirements. Structural engineers typically design structures made of reinforced concrete, structural steel and wood.

Structural Engineering icon

Environmental/Water Resources Engineering

Environmental engineers apply a vast range of technical knowledge to protect the environment from human activities and maintain public health. The work of environmental engineers includes the design of water treatment and wastewater treatment plants, development of systems for handling non-hazardous and hazardous wastes, development of pollution control measures and cleanup of contaminated sites. Water resources engineers are involved in the planning and management of facilities used to supply and transport water used for municipal, agricultural and industrial activities. In addition, water resources engineers develop facilities and methods to capture and store water from storms while avoiding and/or minimizing flooding.

Civil engineers of all disciplines can be found in companies and organization of all sizes, in urban and rural settings, and in civilian, military, or government roles.

Professional Licensure

Civil engineering is a respected profession which is charged foremost with maintaining public safety. Like those in the law and medical professions, civil engineers in positions of responsibility are required to be professionally licensed.

Professional licensure is regulated at the state level, and licensure requirements may vary from state to state.

To become professionally licensed, all states require a minimum level of education, typically a B.S. degree in civil engineering from an ABET accredited school, several years of professional experience working with licensed professional engineers, and satisfactory completion of a standard 8-hour exam.

Engineer in training (EIT)

The fastest route to professional licensure is to become an Engineer-in-Training (EIT) upon graduating with a B.S. degree in civil engineering. This is achieved by passing the national Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam during the final semester of one’s senior year and submitting an application to the state board of licensure. The BYU-Idaho civil engineering program requires students to take the FE exam prior to graduation. Instructions on how to register for the FE exam can be found on the FE Exam page.

FE Exam

Professional engineer (PE)

To become a licensed professional engineer (PE), most states require four years of professional experience under the supervision of a licensed PE after becoming an EIT. Passage of the national PE exam and submittal of an application and fee to the state licensure board are also required. Attending graduate school may reduce the experience requirement. See state-specific rules for more information.

Profession Statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics compiles data on the civil engineering profession including education requirements, average salary, job growth outlook and other information.

View Report