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 involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside 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:

  • Bridge/Structure Inspection Team Leader --
  • City Engineer --
  • Civil Engineering Manager --
  • County Engineer --
  • Design Engineer -- Researches and develops ideas for new products and production systems.
  • Project Engineer --
  • Railroad Design Consultant --
  • Structural Engineer --
  • Traffic Engineer -- Develops plans for safe and efficient roads, streets, highways and traffic-related systems.