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How to Develop as a Civil Engineer: Your Key to Success

  • Publish Date: Posted about 2 months ago
  • Author: Kelly O'Neill

​Ever think about the person that helped build the roads and bridges you drive on? What about the stores you shop at, the schools you learned in, or the hospitals that care for you? Behind every smoothly paved road, towering bridge, and ever modern architecture, there’s an unsung hero: civil engineers.

It’s very easy to take the infrastructure that surrounds us for granted. We navigate our cities, cross bridges, and enter buildings without really giving them a second thought about the intricacies of their design and thorough planning that make it all possible. But take a moment to pause and think about the monumental effort and expertise that is required to create much of the world you live in. It's there you’ll find a group of dedicated professionals shaping our communities from the ground up.

Civil engineers are the masterminds behind the networks of roads and bridges that connect us. They help design sustainable and safe solutions to growing cities, ensuring that the roads, bridges, and buildings we use are structurally sound. The work that civil engineers do is directly woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.

What do Civil Engineers do?

The driving force in planning, designing, and constructing vital infrastructures in our daily lives, civil engineers touch all types of construction. They skillfully combine math, science, and engineering principles to develop the structures we rely on every day.

Civil engineers often develop specialties based on their interests and organization’s needs. Some specialize in stormwater management, while others focus on road construction or seismic retrofitting. There are also specialists in airports or railroads. Civil engineers can be involved in both creating projects and operating them upon completion.

Common job titles in civil engineering include:

  • Civil Design Engineer

  • Civil Engineer/Project Manager

  • Structural Engineer

  • City Engineer

  • Permitting and Licensing Engineer

What Education and Expertise do Civil Engineers Need?

To become a civil engineer, start by earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field. Depending on your career goals, you might choose to pursue an advanced degree or certification.

Once you complete your degree, take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. Once you pass the exam, you’ll become an engineer intern also known as an engineer in training (EIT). Once you become an EIT this will be the time to gain relevant experience in the field.

After gaining relevant experience in the role of EIT, you’ll have the option to pursue a Professional Engineer (PE) license or other field-related certifications. . To obtain a PE license, you need a relevant degree, a pass in the FE exam, experience under a licensed engineer, and a successful outcome in the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. For more advanced careers in the field, a PE may be a prerequisite for certain jobs.

Relevant Skills

While you’ve come a long way, becoming a civil engineer requires more than experience and a degree.

Civil engineers fill many roles, demonstrating both their value and flexibility to their company. To truly embody this versatility, possessing a wide range of skills is crucial for success in the field.

  • Problem Solving: Civil engineers need strong problem-solving skills for the planning, design, and execution of projects, tackling challenges that arise.

  • Organizational Skills: Managing multiple projects requires civil engineers to track progress meticulously and pay close attention to detail.

  • Communication and Collaboration: Essential for teamwork, civil engineers must communicate complex technical information clearly and lead teams effectively.

  • Project Management: Civil engineers often serve as project managers, coordinating teams, setting timelines, and managing budgets to keep projects on track.

  • Math Skills: A solid grasp of calculus, trigonometry, and construction-related math is vital for creating accurate designs and blueprints.

  • Analytical Skills: Strong analytical thinking is crucial for evaluating data and structures, ensuring project safety and efficiency.

Just scratching the surface here, but these skills are what make civil engineers the superheroes of infrastructure development. Their toolkit – a mix of problem-solving, precision, and technical savvy – is absolutely crucial in shaping our modern world.

How to Transition into Your New Role

Transitioning into a new role as a civil engineer with a different company can be as challenging as it is exciting. It's not just about applying your technical expertise in a new setting; it's about navigating a whole new environment and set of expectations. To make this transition smooth and successful, there are key steps that need to be taken.

Learn and Adapt to Company Culture and Processes

Understanding the new company's culture, policies, and operational methods is crucial. A civil engineer should quickly familiarize themselves with the company’s workflow, communication style, and project management techniques. Adapting to these aspects can significantly influence how effectively they integrate into their new role.

Build Relationships and Network Internally

Establishing strong relationships with new colleagues, management, and other departments is essential. Networking within the new company helps in understanding team dynamics, gaining support for projects, and facilitating smoother collaboration. It's also beneficial for career growth and gaining insights into internal opportunities.

Industry publications and networking events pose great opportunities for some good old fashioned professional development! In many cases, you might be the only civil engineer within your entire company. That doesn’t leave you with too many people to bounce ideas off of so be diligent about building relationships and growing your network.

Update and Apply Technical Knowledge and Skills

Stay current with the latest industry standards, technologies, and engineering practices relevant to the new role. Applying updated technical knowledge and skills to projects showcases competence and dedication. It's also important to understand the specific challenges and objectives of the new role and apply one’s expertise to address them effectively.

Find Your Next Civil Engineering Role with Per Se Group

Being a civil engineer, especially when stepping into a new role or company, is both a prestigious and demanding endeavor. It requires a blend of sharp technical skills, adaptability, and an understanding of new organizational cultures and processes. Your contributions might not always be in the spotlight, but they are fundamental to the development and maintenance of our infrastructure.

Civil engineers are the architects of progress, designing a better future one blueprint at a time. Their innovative work touches every aspect of our lives, ensuring safety, efficiency, and sustainability. The next time you encounter a piece of infrastructure, think of the silent professionals who make it all possible.

Want to explore new opportunities in this field? Join our network and let’s build your future together!