Building a Career: Top Job Roles for Civil Engineering Graduates

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In 2021 alone, U.S. colleges awarded 21,388 students with degrees in civil engineering. But what exactly can you do with a degree in civil engineering? Quite a few things, actually.

Sustainable construction expert Karim Allana understands the civil engineering world well and can offer insight into the career paths that await civil engineering graduates. Here are some of today’s top jobs.

Construction Manager

As a construction manager, you’ll work with other civil engineers, architects, and ground crews to execute the construction of buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures. You’ll also be responsible for devising construction schedules, drafting budgets, and ensuring that each project is up to code.

The median salary for construction managers is $98,890.

Structural Engineer

A structural engineer analyzes the way physical forces impact buildings and other structures. They perform calculations, run computer models, and generate reports based on their findings. Structural engineers might also collaborate with other engineers or architects and inspect project plans.

The median salary for structural engineers is $86,331.

Building Engineer

As a building engineer, you’d monitor the repair and maintenance of buildings for structural safety and to ensure that they’re habitable for occupants. This commonly includes the inspection of fixtures like plumbing, HVAC systems, electrical systems, and smoke detectors.

Building engineers also ensure that the building meets established codes and schedule repairs and maintenance work as needed.

The median salary for building engineers is $75,168.

City Engineer

Many municipalities hire city engineers to design, build, or repair their basic infrastructure, including bridges, roads, utility lines, and airports. City engineers might also gather permits, research future construction locations, and create presentations for city officials. 

The median salary for city engineers is $99,330.

Forensic Structural Engineer

Forensic structural engineers serve a similar role to structural engineers, though their duty revolves around structural failures. Forensic structural engineers survey damage, inspect structural flaws, and make recommendations for maintenance and repair. These engineers might work for a city government, private forensic engineering or construction firm.

The median salary for forensic structural engineers is $68,855.

Geotechnical Engineer

By pursuing a job as a geotechnical engineer, you’d work with construction companies and engineers to analyze local soil compositions and geological conditions when building structures.

You’d also handle projects involving shaping the earth for tunnels, embankments, or levees and might also be involved in developing new engineering techniques.

The median salary for geotechnical engineers is $77,651.

Transportation Engineer

Transportation construction projects can include streets, highways, railways, bridges, and more. Transportation engineers work alongside other engineers (such as city planning engineers) and planners to identify potential construction sites, evaluate environmental impact, and maintain projects upon completion.

The median salary for a transportation engineer is $77,936.

Environmental Engineer

Waste disposal and recycling plants rely on environmental engineers to develop solutions to sanitation problems and air pollution. These professionals also analyze construction projects and may work with city and transportation engineers to minimize the impact on the surrounding ecosystem.

It’s also likely that the demand for environmental engineers will grow as more companies pursue sustainable business practices.

The median salary for an environmental engineer is $96,820.

Senior Civil Engineer

Major construction projects like buildings, airports, and railways require the expertise of a senior civil engineer. This role is usually reserved for engineers with several years of experience, but no additional training is required for civil engineering graduates.

The management component of this profession warrants a higher salary than other engineering professions.

The median salary of a senior civil engineer is $102,050.


Technically, drafters don’t have to earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering — an associate degree will generally do. That said, many firms may show preference to civil engineering graduates, and this can often be a good stepping stone for those who have recently earned their degree and are looking to gain experience.

The median annual salary for a drafter is $60,290.

Engineering Professor

Some civil engineering graduates might consider a future goal of becoming an engineering professor at a college, university, or technical institute.

In addition to teaching classes, you’d be involved in research, advising, and publishing findings in academic journals. This profession might be best for those with experience in or an aptitude for the academic side of engineering and it requires advanced degrees, but it pays well for those who secure positions.

The median salary for a postsecondary engineering teacher is $104,940.

Start Building a Satisfying Career

As you can see, the civil engineering job field is as diverse as it is rewarding. If you’re considering a career in engineering, civil engineering offers numerous opportunities, as well as long-term job security and satisfaction.