126,700 bachelor’s degrees in engineering were awarded in the 2018-19 school year, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Psychology (116,500) and biology (121,200) rounded out the top two million undergraduate degrees. There were 390,600 people in business, and 251,400 people in health professions.
A report published in November 2017 by the Congressional Research Service stated that in 2016 there were 6.9 million scientists and engineers (S&E) working in the United States. 57.6 percent of the S&E groups were in the computer-related professions, with 23.6 percent in engineering.
Nearly three-quarters of engineers work in manufacturing, while about a third work in professional and scientific services. Those who plan to specialize in a particular engineering field may benefit from this information.
You’re not alone if you’re thinking about a career in civil engineering. There are more than 309,800 people in the United States employed by civil engineers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2020). Over the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects another 25,300 jobs to be created. Earning potential is just as important as a positive outlook on a job. It’s important for aspiring civil engineers to know what they can expect in terms of salary and how factors like industry, position, and specialization affect their value in the workforce.
Construction Engineering Careers with the Highest Salaries
The field of civil engineering, despite its enormous scope and rapid career growth, is not one of the highest-paying in engineering. There is a median salary for this occupation of $88,570, which is above the $41,950 for all occupations but lower than the $96,310 median salary for all engineers. However, the industry in which a civil engineer works can have a significant impact on their pay.
Among the best-paying industries for engineers, the federal government is the most lucrative. Civil engineers employed by the federal government typically earn a yearly salary of $99,750. Local government civil engineering jobs are the next most lucrative, paying an average of $95,760 per year. On the lower end of the scale for civil engineers are engineering services, state government, and nonresidential building construction (all with median salaries of $89,460).
Most high-paying civil engineering positions are also among the most difficult to obtain. Fewer than 0.22% of waste management workers are civil engineers, but those that do (220) earn an average salary of $127,040 per year, according to the BLS. An average salary of $124,670 is earned by just 620 civil engineers, accounting for just 0.50 percent of all workers in the oil and gas extraction industry. The 390 civil engineers who work in computer systems design and the 150 civil engineers who work for social advocacy organizations all earn six-figure median salaries.
The Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services industry employs more than half of all civil engineers.
The median salary is a good indicator, but it’s also a good idea to look at the starting salary. The BLS and Payscale data used by Michigan Tech is for the year 2021. The following are the average starting salaries:
- $75,376 – Computer Hardware in Computer Engineering
- $70,115 for software developers.
- Engineering in Geology and Mining: $69,879
- Chemical Engineering: $68,311.25
- $67,593 for Electrical Engineering
- Science and Technology of Materials: $67,302
- Anatomy and Physiology: $63,528
- $50,880 for Civil Engineering
At $32,385, surveying engineering is the lowest-paying profession.
Growth in the number of people employed is another important consideration, as it can be an indication of future employment prospects and job security. As a general rule, most job seekers want to earn the most money they can in their chosen field. Engineering, construction, and manufacturing job placements are the focus of Austin Nichols Technical Search. In 2021, it predicted that the following engineering specialties would see the most growth:
How does this list compare to the BLS’s 2020-2030 job outlook changes (percentage)? As before, here are the steps:
- Civil – 8%
- Healthcare and biotechnology – 6%
- 7 percent of jobs are in mechanical fields.
- Electricity – 7%
- Amounts to 4% of the total
- 8% of the economy is devoted to the aerospace industry.
Although the expected job turnover for aerospace engineers and civil engineers is the same, civil engineering will add or remove 25,300 positions over the next decade. The shortage of aerospace engineers, on the other hand, will only result in 5,100 new job openings.
Engineering Leadership Positions in the Civil Sector
Being in charge is advantageous in the field of civil engineering, as it is in many others. The BLS reported that architectural and engineering managers in all engineering fields earn a median salary of $149,530. Engineering managers are in charge of people and projects. It’s their job to plan and implement all aspects of engineering projects, from new designs to the implementation of budgets and the procurement of materials.
Scientific research and development managers earn the highest median salary of $174,710 in this management group. Manufacturing ($148,880) and engineering services ($148,120) come in second and third, respectively, at $157,760 and $157,760, respectively. The top tenth of earners took home more than $208,000.
Consider a career in civil engineering management as an option for you. If that’s the case, you’ll have to work your way up the ladder from entry-level positions by demonstrating your ability to handle increasingly difficult projects and tasks. It takes an average of five years of work experience before an engineer is promoted to management status, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A master’s degree in engineering management, technology management, or business administration may be necessary as well.
In civil engineering, the BLS found that many higher-level positions necessitate both a graduate degree and a Professional Engineer (PE) certification.
Salary Ranges for Civil Engineers by Specialization
Much of the work a civil engineer is responsible for is determined by their area of specialization. Geotechnical/materials engineers, structural engineers, transportation engineers, and environmental/water resources civil engineers are some of the most sought-after civil engineers. It’s logical to assume that a person’s earning potential is influenced by their area of expertise, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
According to PayScale, geotechnical engineers make an average annual salary of $67,731. The average yearly salary of a structural engineer is $70,948, less than $1,000 less than that of a geotechnical engineer (Payscale). In addition to structural engineering, the following civil engineering specialties pay the most on average (BLS 2020).
- Chemists: $114,820 per year
- $ 137,330 per year for petroleum engineers.
- Engineers in Agriculture: $84,410
- Manager of Construction: $97,180
- $103,390 for electrical engineers.
- $88,570 for civil engineers
- $90,160 per year for mechanical engineers
According to the government, each year, they compile national averages for nearly 800 occupations. The earnings potential of an individual is influenced by a variety of factors, including the size, revenue, location, and education of the company.
Job Opportunities in Civil Engineering for the Federal Government
For government and private sector positions, a degree in civil engineering can open many doors. With the number of government projects that are necessary to design, build and maintain infrastructures like roads, bridges, transportation hubs and buildings in addition to water supply and waste treatment, it makes sense that one in four civil engineers works for the government.
The fact that civil engineers working for state governments earn less than those working for local governments may come as a surprise to many. The federal government pays civil engineers an average of $97,260, but only employs 0.46 percent of them. The median salary for civil engineers employed by local governments is $98,870. However, the Federal Executive Branch employs only 9,600 civil engineers, compared to the combined 66,000 civil engineers employed by the state and local governments combined.
Government employment figures for the federal government do not include postal services, while state and local figures do not count schools or hospitals.
If you want to make the most money, look for work in high-demand areas. It was estimated in 2020 that California had 45,900 civil engineers, with Texas a distant second with 28,990. At 14,670, New York is in third place, followed by Florida (16,250).
San Francisco-Oakland has the highest median wage of any metropolitan area, coming in just under the most expensive at $119,860 per year. The average salary for civil engineers in Los Angeles-Long Beach is $112,030, making it one of the most expensive places to live. Two major metropolitan areas in the United States have a combined population of more than a million people: New York City-Newark-Jersey City and Dallas-Fort Worth.
Outside of California, the cities with the highest average salary are:
- Cost of living in Lincoln: $113,930
- There is $125,910 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Nearby Naples in Florida: $118,110
In New Orleans, only 1,060 people are employed; in Lincoln, only 530 people are employed; and in Naples, only 150 people are employed.
The number of jobs per 1,000 people in a metropolitan area is another factor that affects salaries. Only 330 civil engineers work in Fairbanks, Alaska, according to the BLS, which has the highest location quotient of 5.00 per 1,000 jobs. Nevada’s capital city of Carson City has a high concentration of civil engineers (4.9%), but only 310 of them are employed in the city. Raleigh, North Carolina, has a quotient of 3.11 and 4,180 civil engineers earning an average salary of $90,750, which paints a more positive picture.
Professionals in Other Fields
Before enrolling in a civil engineering program, students should consider other career options in the STEM fields. Over the next ten years, 25,300 new jobs are expected to be created at an annual rate of 8%. Information Security Analysts, on the other hand, have a 33% turnover rate and 47,100 new jobs. With a bachelor’s degree, the average salary is $103,590, or $49.50 an hour. However, only 141,200 of those employed in information security are also employed in civil engineering (309,800).
In 2018, the World Economic Forum predicted that 75 million jobs would be replaced by machines and algorithms. Between 2018 and 2022, 133 million jobs will be created. As a result, data scientists, data analysts, AI specialists, software developers, and marketing professionals will all be in high demand in the near future.
As of October 2020, the World Economic Forum predicted that by 2025, 97 million jobs would be lost and as many new ones would be created. It’s bad news for factory workers but a boon for those who can or have transitioned into robotics and other fields.
At the end of 2021, Techjury.net predicted there would be 3 million robots in factories. From 2021 to 2030, the United States could lose 73 million jobs, while China could lose 236 million jobs.
By 2023, the global market for medical robots is expected to reach $12.6 billion. The manufacturing, transportation, manual labor, hospitality, and retail industries, in particular, face a sea change in employment conditions as a result of these figures. With the rapid advancement of technology, it’s possible that those without the necessary education and training to enter the workforce will be left behind.
The United Kingdom will lose seven million jobs due to artificial intelligence between 2017 and 2037, but the same number of jobs will be created in health, science, and technology. The world’s aging population means that the healthcare industry will remain a hotbed of employment opportunities regardless of technological advancements.
How to Advance Your Career After Completing Your Undergraduate Degree
BLS data is based on bachelor’s degree data and job forecasts. Graduate programs are available at some institutions, many of which specialize students in a particular field.
Surveying, concrete structures, sustainable energy, fluid mechanics, hydraulics, environmental energy, and more are covered in undergraduate programs. Many different aspects of engineering are covered in these courses, so students graduate with a well-rounded education.
An MS in Civil Engineering can allow students to specialize in a particular area of engineering. The University of Washington, for example, has these engineering options available:
- Infrastructural Development, Renewable Energy, and Environmental Sustainability
- the study of water and water flow
- Mechanics and Structures
The majority of them can be found online.
Colorado State University, on the other hand, offers an M.S. in Civil Engineering that looks more like a baccalaureate program than an advanced degree. When it comes to the courses students take, there are no specialties. As an example,
- Engineering for drainage and wetlands
- Water that Isn’t Wasted
- Disposal and Recycling
- Environmental Monitoring Pipeline Systems
- Planning for the use of water
- Mechanics of Fluids
- Cities’ Water Infrastructure
- Mechanics of Water Power
Depending on one’s career goals, narrowing one’s focus to a single engineering discipline may be a better option.
One way to increase your earning potential is by obtaining credentials. After completing four years of engineering experience, the PE or Professional Engineer license is the mark to aim for. An independent licensing board is in place for each state. Passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Principles of Engineering (PE) exams is a pre-requisite for admission. The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) website provides additional information.
According to the NSPE, states may require the PE for engineers working in consulting or project management roles.