Civil Engineer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Civil Engineers Career Video



Performs engineering duties in planning, designing and overseeing construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities. May work on roads, railroads, airports, bridges, harbors, channels, dams, irrigation projects, pipelines, power plants, water and sewage systems, or waste disposal units. May be architectural, structural, traffic, ocean, geo-technical or other kind of engineer.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Design/Pre-Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Inspects project sites to monitor progress and ensures conformance to design specifications and safety or sanitation standards.
  • Computes load and grade requirements, water flow rates, or material stress factors to determine design specifications.
  • Provides technical advice to industrial or managerial personnel regarding design, construction, or program modifications or structural repairs.
  • Tests soils or materials to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations, concrete, asphalt, or steel.
  • Manages and directs the construction, operations, or maintenance activities at project site.
  • Directs or participates in surveying to lay out installations or establish reference points, grades, or elevations to guide construction.
  • Estimates quantities and cost of materials, equipment, or labor to determine project feasibility.
  • Plans and designs transportation or hydraulic systems or structures using computer assisted design or drawing tools.
  • Prepares or presents public reports on topics such as bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements, or property and right-of-way descriptions.
  • Designs energy efficient or environmentally sound civil structures.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Architectural Engineer -- Applies mathematical and scientific principles to building design, concentrating on structural demands and functionality while taking into account economic and safety factors.
  • Highway Engineer -- Designs highways, bridges and roads.
  • Structural Design Engineer -- Directs or participates in planning, designing, or reviewing plans for erection of structures requiring stress analysis
  • Bridge Design Engineer --
  • Cadastral Engineer --
  • Hydroelectric Plant Structural Engineer --
  • Road Engineer --
  • Zoning Engineer --