What Does a Civil Engineer Do?
Civil engineers develop, design, supervise, and maintain infrastructure projects such as roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, and bridges. They can work in the public or private sector, in one of two major branches of civil engineering: structural engineering or construction engineering. In structural engineering, civil engineers design bridges and load-bearing structures. Civil engineers who work in construction engineering manage construction projects. A civil engineer uses data from surveys, tests, and maps to create blueprints for projects. Contractors use these blueprints to determine how to complete projects with minimal environmental impact.
In addition to high-level technical skills, civil engineers should have well-developed communication skills, because they’re often required to provide advice and suggestions to project stakeholders. Whether they work in the public or private sector, civil engineers play a significant role in shaping skylines, roads, and the general look and feel of our cities and towns. Because of this, there are a wide variety of jobs that fall under the civil engineering umbrella.
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National Average Salary
Civil engineer salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Civil Engineer is:
Civil Engineer Job Descriptions
It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a civil engineer. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.
Civil engineers are responsible for designing and supervising infrastructure projects. Their most important responsibilities include designing structural blueprints, adhering to construction laws and environmental constraints, and visiting construction sites to monitor the building process. Civil engineers successfully perform their duties by effectively communicating ideas, making recommendations, and negotiating project details with their team, subcontractors, and clients. [Your Company Name] is looking for an experienced civil engineer to join our team. If you have experience in engineering, are a critical thinker, and have good mathematical skills, this position at our company could be the perfect fit.
Typical duties and responsibilities
- Plan and design projects using survey results, maps, and other data
- Analyze construction costs, relevant government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors while planning a project
- Submit permit applications to government agencies
- Verify that projects comply with all federal, state, and local regulations
- Evaluate the results of soil tests to help design foundations to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
- Analyze data from tests on building materials for use in construction projects
- Compile cost estimates for materials, equipment and labor
- Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures
- Manage the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public and private infrastructure
Education and experience
- This position requires a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field. Some employers prefer job candidates with a master’s degree or PhD for certain positions or career advancement.
Required skills and qualifications
- Analytical, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
- Advanced mathematics skills
- Teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
- Strong organization skills
- Experience with engineering and computer-assisted design (CAD) software
- Demonstrated skill in solving highly technical problems
- Exceptionally organized and creative
- Great communication skills
- In-depth knowledge of the industry and strong mathematical skills
- Idea-driven individual who can come up with innovative solutions and improvements to technical processes
You’re able to envision the steps needed to accomplish and delegate design and planning tasks. You think creatively and outside the box. You’re becoming a supportive leader and prefer team success over individual glory. You are hungry to learn and thrive in an environment where every day is different. You don’t shy away from sharing your ideas or asking questions.
To thrive in this position, you already have the following qualifications:
- a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering or a related field required
- a Washington state PE license (or are able to obtain one within six months)
- 5-7 years of experience in the design, planning, and implementation of water resource and civil engineering projects (bonus points for project management experience)
- Proficiently qualified to review the work of Engineers in Training
- Enthusiasm for civil engineering, learning, and creative thinking/problem solving
- Knowledge and understanding of rules and regulations that inform the design
It’d be great, but not required to also have the following qualifications:
- Experience with AutoCAD Civil3D, GIS, SWMM, HEC-RAS, SRH-2D, and/or StormShed3G
- Solid understanding of and experience with Washington State stormwater design and requirements
- Active participation in industry organizations such as APWA, WTS, SWE, NSBE, ACEC, ASCE, PNCWA, etc.
About the work
In this role, you’ll work with a highly collaborative team of engineers and civil technicians to:
- Prepare reports, figures, drawings, specifications, and other deliverables
- Provide detailed engineering calculations
- Create hydrologic and hydraulic models
- Perform field work, data collection/analysis, and documentation for stormwater projects
- Coordinate with teammates on projects to ensure proper and timely execution
- Provide Deputy Project Management support and task management on projects
- Backcheck others’ work to ensure quality control, completeness, and accuracy of team deliverables
- Show up for your colleagues and positively contribute to the team’s culture, learning, and growth
Our dynamic growth and continued success have created an opportunity for a Civil Engineer to become an important part of our well-established technical group. This opportunity offers numerous project challenges for an Engineer to apply their technical understanding and application of engineering principles and practices to a variety of multi-discipline civil projects.
Responsibilities may include
- Provide project engineering and task management; conduct collection systems modeling and design; collect and present data in reports, memos, and meetings; lead design calculations and technical reports; and preparation of engineering plans and specifications for the design of facilities and related infrastructure
- Work independently in addition to planning, organizing, and assisting professionals, dependent on project/task
- Conduct planning, plan formulation, and concept development
- Assist in project permitting efforts with various regulatory and municipal entities
Required qualifications to be considered for our civil engineer position
- Bachelor’s degree in Civil, Environmental, or related engineering discipline
- Master’s degree preferred
- Minimum of 5 years of technical experience in stormwater systems, water quality, stormwater collection systems, and pipeline design Candidates with additional experience are encouraged to apply
- Professional Engineer (PE) registration
- Experience with AutoCAD Civil 3D
- Experience managing projects would be a plus
Key responsibilities & accountabilities
- Plans, directs, and coordinates activities of a broad range of civil engineering projects (Roadway, Bridges, Water Resources, Site Design) through all phases including planning, design, and construction to ensure that the goals and objectives of these projects are accomplished within scope, schedule, and budget
- Manage multiple projects which include developing plans, specifications, project schedules, technical analyses, evaluations, maps, procedures, report preparation, and project fiscal management
- Reviewing reports prepared by other staff
- Ability to collect, evaluate, and interpret data to make technical decisions in order to steer the project from inception to completion
- Ability to conduct both desktop assessments and field reconnaissance
- Ability to coordinate, plan, conduct, and attend project meetings
- Assures that the project team complies with the contract agreement as well as exercises rigid cost control to implement the approved design within established budget restraints
- Interacting with clients, stakeholders, and contractors during various phases of a project
- Assist with proposal development; develop a firm understanding of costs for specific projects
- Participate in marketing efforts, including but not limited to proposal preparation and business development efforts
- Maintains positive relationships with current and past clients as assigned and works to increase the number of desirable clients
- Serves as a representative of ABC Company at meetings, presentations, and public hearings/reviews relative to assigned projects
- Attend appropriate association/industry events to network and promote ABC Company
- B.S in Civil Engineering
- Registration as a Louisiana Professional Engineer
- Minimum of 5-10 years of progressive experience in civil engineering design
- Experience in planning, designing, and construction projects associated with civil engineering, roadways, site civil development, drainage, and bridges
- Efficient in Excel, Word, GIS, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.
- Review and evaluation of analytical data and quality assurance documents and processes, conduct site work as required
- Excellent communication and technical writing skills
- Knowledge of financial responsibility, project invoices, and billing system is a plus
Other miscellaneous qualities
- Ability to travel 20% of the time
- Experience with residential, commercial, and community or master planning projects is desired
- Experience with hydrologic and hydraulic analysis is a plus
- Experience with implementation and adhering to health and safety requirements
Candidate Certifications to Look For
- Certified Construction Manager (CCM). The Certified Construction Manager (CCM) recognizes candidates who have chosen a career in construction management. Certified construction managers are committed to excellence in construction management/project management, career development, and the pursuit of knowledge. They provide professional services which apply effective management techniques to the planning, design, and construction of a project from inception to completion to control time, cost, and quality. Candidates must meet education and experience requirements and pass a technical exam. They must also complete a self-study course that covers topics related to construction managers including the manager’s role, legal issues, and risk allocation. Renewal is required every 3 years.
- Certified Planning Engineer (CPE). The Certified Planning Engineer (CPE) certification recognizes candidates who meet the demanding requirements of planning and scheduling assets of experience, education, skill, knowledge, and ethical qualifications. Experience requirements for degree holders include at least six years of professional experience, of which up to four years may be substituted by an accredited college or university degree. Experience requirements for not meeting these degree requirements include less than six years of combined experience.
How to Hire a Civil Engineer
There are a number of initial considerations when hiring a civil engineer:
- Recruiting: Do you have the internal resources and tools to successfully source and recruit for this role?
- Complexity: Does your project require a senior professional, or is a mid- or junior-level inspector sufficient?
- Duration: Is this a one-time project or a permanent requirement?
- Management: Do you have the time and expertise to direct the work effort effectively?
- Urgency: How time-sensitive is this need? What happens if it remains unfilled?
- Headcount: Do you have room on your team for a new W2 employee, or should you consider alternate options?
Answering these questions will help determine the best course of action for your current hiring need. Fortunately, various great options exist for every scenario, no matter how unique. We recommend the following options when hiring a civil engineer:
1. Use 4 Corner Resources (or another professional recruiting firm)
The heavy lifting is done for you when working with a top-tier staffing company like 4 Corner Resources. We source, screen, recruit, and deliver only the most qualified candidate(s), saving you significant time and effort throughout the hiring process while you remain focused on your core business. Understanding your needs and ensuring the right candidate for the position is the key to our success.
This is the best route to take when:
- You need to fill the position quickly
- You want access to a vast talent pool of high-quality, prescreened candidates
- Your position is suited for temporary hiring services, contract staffing, or contract-to-hire recruiting, and you intend to direct the work activity.
- You are hiring an employee as a direct placement but aren’t able to recruit effectively or efficiently with your internal staff.
- You aren’t familiar with current salary rates, market trends, and available skill sets
2. Advertise your opening on a top job board
Your best option may be to advertise your opening on a proven job board. There are many widely used job sites out there that draw visits from qualified candidates. If you have someone internally who can dedicate the time and energy to sort through applications and screen individuals effectively, this can be a great choice.
We recommend using a job board when:
- Your internal recruiting team has the knowledge and experience to assess candidate qualifications
- You are hiring a direct employee and have time to manage the entire recruiting effort
- You have a process for receiving, screening, and tracking all resumes and applications
- You are prepared to respond to all applicants
We recommend using CareerBuilder when hiring a civil engineer:
CareerBuilder has been a trusted source for hiring since 1995. Reach 80+ million unique, diverse U.S. job seekers annually by posting your jobs through their talent acquisition channels. Through CareerBuilder, you can engage candidates and drive them into your sourcing pipeline. We recommend using CareerBuilder for hiring when you have the internal resources and processes to review, screen, and reply to all applicants.
3. Leverage your internal resources
You can utilize your own website, social media, and employees to assist in your search for top candidates.
A company website posting should be the first step in notifying prospective candidates that you are hiring. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading the word about your new opening. As far as exposure is concerned, this option can be as good as some job boards when you have a large enough following across various platforms, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.
Current employees are every organization’s greatest asset. Encourage your internal team to promote job openings to their network by offering cash and other incentives.
We recommend these options when:
- Your brand has great name recognition
- You can consistently monitor and respond to candidate activity through your website and social media accounts
- You have a process in place to quickly and broadly communicate job openings and requirements
- You have an effective employee referral program in place
If you aren’t sure which path is best, schedule a discovery call today with our seasoned recruiting professionals. The 4 Corner team is on standby to help you find the best option for your unique hiring need.
Sample Interview Questions
- How would you prioritize your work if you had multiple ongoing projects?
- How do you maintain a safe work environment?
- What do you believe should be the number one priority for any civil engineer?
- What is OSHA compliance?
- What is the main challenge that you faced during your last role? How did you manage it?
- What is the right strategy and mindset required for this role?
- Walk me through a difficult project you have worked on and how you overcame any obstacles.
- Why did you choose to pursue civil engineering?
- What are the most relevant skills that you could bring to this job?
- What relevant civil engineering qualifications do you have and what would you like to gain over the next few years?
- How do you keep your knowledge of industry regulations up to date?
- Describe to me what you see as a typical day in the life of a civil engineer.
- Which design software systems have you worked with?