Civil Engineer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Civil Engineer, or Licensed Civil Engineer, is responsible for overseeing the design and construction of roads, bridges, waterways, sewage treatment plants and other types of infrastructure. Their duties include using software programs to design structural blueprints, adhering to construction laws and environmental constraints and visiting construction sites to monitor the building process.

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Civil Engineer duties and responsibilities

The Civil Engineer is responsible for designing and supervising infrastructure projects. They ensure each project is feasible by analyzing local and environmental impacts and making sure that they can be completed on time within the budget restrictions. Other duties and responsibilities may include:

  • Analyzing survey reports, long-range plans, maps and other data to design new projects
  • Considering budget, regulations and environmental hazards during risk-analysis stage
  • Preparing material, equipment and labor cost estimates and confirming costs are within the budget
  • Forecasting design and construction timeline
  • Completing and submitting all permit applications to the appropriate agencies and ensuring projects are compliant throughout the design and construction stages
  • Overseeing soil testing to establish soil strength and building feasibility
  • Using design software to create project drawings and renderings
  • Managing repair and maintenance of infrastructure projects
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What does a Civil Engineer do?

Civil Engineers typically work for construction companies on a contractual basis or for government agencies to complete public works projects. They work closely with Construction Workers and other Civil Engineers to overcome construction challenges and ensure the quality of their projects. Their job is to obtain construction permits and determine the proper budget and personnel needed to complete a project. They may also need to research the local environment and conduct soil tests to choose suitable construction materials.

Civil Engineer skills and qualifications

Civil Engineers must be skilled in construction and design. The specific area of expertise required will depend on if the project is for a road, building, bridge or another type of infrastructure. Some of their most important skills and qualifications include:

  • Professional Engineering (PE) license
  • Proficiency with computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Advanced calculus and trigonometry skills
  • Excellent organizational and time management abilities
  • Demonstrated leadership and teamwork capabilities
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Advanced decision-making and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to multitask effectively

Civil Engineer salary expectations

A Civil Engineer makes an average of $84,237 per year in the United States. Salaries typically depend on the candidate’s years of relevant experience, level of education and geographical location.

Civil Engineer education and training requirements

A bachelor’s degree in civil engineering is generally required for all Civil Engineers. Training and certification requirements for a Civil Engineer will vary by state, but a Professional Engineering (PE) license is generally required for higher-level positions. The PE license allows the Engineer to oversee other Engineers and approve design plans or projects. Some employers may also prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree in civil engineering for higher-level or specialized positions.

Civil Engineer experience requirements

The experience required for Civil Engineers varies depending on the specific projects they’re required to manage. For companies seeking an entry-level Engineer, they may not require prior professional experience. However, a Team Leader or Designer generally requires at least 10 years of experience. For mid-level Civil Engineering roles, organizations may look for candidates with 2-5 years of experience, such as experience working as a Junior Civil Engineer or Civil Engineering Intern.

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Frequently asked questions about Civil Engineers


What is the difference between a Civil Engineer and an Architect?

Both Civil Engineers and Architects use their expertise to design pieces of infrastructure, but they differ in the types of infrastructure they design and their job focus. For example, Civil Engineers work to design and construct infrastructure like roadways, bridges or sewage treatment facilities. Their goal is to create functional pieces of infrastructure that benefit transportation and everyday life. Civil Engineers also pay attention to the surrounding area to determine how a piece of infrastructure will interact with the environment.

In contrast, Architects may also build infrastructure like bridges, but they are more likely to design commercial buildings, churches, stadiums or memorials. Their goal is to create aesthetically-pleasing infrastructure that combines functionality with unique designs. Architects and Civil Engineers may work together on specific projects to ensure the safety, functionality and aesthetically-pleasing nature of infrastructure.


What are the daily duties of a Civil Engineer?

On a typical day, a Civil Engineer starts by reviewing their schedule. They check their email and voicemail to respond to time-sensitive messages from Contractors and other engineering professionals. Throughout the day, Civil Engineers work on digital blueprints, participate in meetings in the office or at construction sites and brainstorm ideas to overcome potential challenges to their designs. Civil Engineers also travel to construction sites to retrieve soil samples and take notes on the surrounding area, including wildlife, nearby housing developments or waterways. 

Once back in their office, Civil Engineers create environmental impact reports and look for ways to limit the project’s effect on the surrounding area.


What qualities make a good Civil Engineer?

A good Civil Engineer is someone who visualizes structures and uses computer software programs to develop blueprints drawn to scale. They value continued education, which motivates them to participate in certification courses or civil engineering lectures. This love of learning also allows them to maintain and expand their current skill levels to contribute to the creation of modern infrastructure. Further, a good Civil Engineer has an innovative mindset, enabling them to develop solutions for budgeting constraints or environmental factors.

They also prioritize safety and work to create pieces of infrastructure with the right materials and support mechanisms.


Who does a Civil Engineer report to?

A Civil Engineer typically reports to a Senior Civil Engineer depending on their level of experience designing infrastructure. Civil Engineers may also report to the Site Contractor or Property Owner to notify them of budgeting needs or setbacks during the construction process.

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