A civil engineer's
training should continue throughout his or her entire career. An effective
engineer realizes that continuing education is the key to success. In
college an engineer gains an ability to learn that will last throughout
life, while at the same time absorbing the basic knowledge and skills that
every engineer must master. On-the-job experience, gained through co-op
assignments, internships, or summer jobs, is a vital factor in making a
young engineer credible to potential employers. Gaining professional
licensing is often important to career advancement. Becoming marketable
means having the skills and experiences beyond the basics, perhaps through
leadership in student or community organizations, plus having the ability
to communicate one's unique qualifications clearly.
students usually select their field in the first or second year of
college. At the same time that you are coming to grips with the
fundamentals of engineering, you should also pay attention to the broader
issue of learning to learn a skill you will need to master if you are to
continue to develop as an engineer -- communication. It is important to
develop your writing and speaking skills. It is a good idea to get
involved in campus activities that let you develop as a person as you
learn to be an engineer.
Civil engineers will tell you that co-ops, internships, summer jobs, or
any other way to gain experience in the field of your choice, will help
you land a first job. More importantly, it will give you a chance to find
out what you like to do and are good at doing.
Anyone looking for a job has to get comfortable with the idea of selling
one's strengths. Whether it is a deep specialization or a broad
background, you will need to demonstrate how you will help an employer.
Marketing includes both a profound knowledge of the product (yourself) and
the buyer (the employer). When you find a match between your interests and
their needs, the chances of success are high.
U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories have laws
regulating the practice of professions including law, medicine, and
engineering. These laws protect the public health, safety, and welfare by
insuring that those receiving licenses to practice have at least met
certain requirements of competence, ability, experience, and character.
Licensure laws vary from state to state and are exclusively under the
control of the individual state legislatures. But generally, the licensure
laws for professional engineers require graduation from an accredited
engineering curriculum followed by approximately four years of responsible
engineering experience, and finally the successful completion of a written
exam. Some states may waive the written exam on the basis of education and
experience, but the trend is toward an examination requirement.
While not the only way to get ahead, graduate training can provide the
critical depth of training some specialties require. The best sources of
information about grad school are your professors and other practicing
Those interested in a
career in civil engineering should consider reviewing engineering
programs that are
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
American Society of Civil Engineers.