Table of Contents

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) defines civil engineering as "the design and maintenance of public works such as roads, bridges, water and energy systems as well as public facilities like ports, railways and airports."

Civil engineering degree programs help students build a solid foundation of knowledge in the mathematics, science and engineering courses that are necessary for this field. Upon graduation civil engineers will typically understand how to envision and build elaborate and dynamic structures and systems, while often attempting to solve complex issues such as traffic congestion, construction concerns and pollution.

What Does an Online Degree in Civil Engineering Entail?

Students who choose to become a civil engineering major can choose to work toward a bachelor's degree or master's degree, although a bachelor's degree is usually the highest level of education required for employment according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Often times, those with a civil engineering major will choose a specialization in their area of interest, popular options including structural engineering, water resources engineering, geotechnical engineering and construction engineering. Along with their specialty, students will take a wide range of science-related courses that boost their level of knowledge in all aspects of the field.

Introductory courses can include, but aren't limited to:

  • Basic mathematics
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Communications
  • Physics

As students progress through their civil engineering program, they'll cover topics such as fluid mechanics, transportation engineering and soil mechanics. They'll often examine the fundamentals of safe and effective building design by studying topics such as structural design and structural analysis as well.

Technical electives are also required for students with a civil engineering major. Students can choose to take electives in a whole range of topics that aim to add to their breadth of knowledge. Some elective courses often chosen by students in this field include:

  • Study of air pollution
  • Hazardous waste management
  • Watersheds and water resources
  • Ground improvements
  • Transportation systems planning

Career Outlook for Civil Engineering Majors

Owing to anticipated repairs to our aging infrastructure and anticipated population growth, the BLS projects that employment for civil engineers is expected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022. This means that civil engineers will likely be in demand for at least the next decade as they design and build systems to clean and treat our waterways, work on renewable energy projects and manage and repair public and private infrastructure.

Since civil engineers typically work on complex and intricate projects, they sometimes choose to specialize within their field. For instance, the BLS reports that civil engineers who focus on the management of construction projects often work as construction engineers or construction managers BLS state that employment construction managers is expected to grow 16 percent from 2012 to 2022.

Civil engineers who desire to work in building foundation repair and study often choose to specialize as geotechnical engineers, according to the BLS. Civil engineers who want to focus mainly on the structure of buildings, roadways, bridges, dams, or facilities often choose to work as structural engineers. Meanwhile, as the BLS reports, transportation engineers typically focus on the design, operation and maintenance of streets, highways, mass transit systems and harbors.

"What is Civil Engineering?" U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014, http://www.asce.org/What-Is-Civil-Engineering-/
"Civil Engineers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineers.htm#tab-1
"Construction Managers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/construction-managers.htm#tab-1
"Bachelor of Civil Engineering Curriculum," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014, http://www.ce.udel.edu/bcecore.html
"Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014, http://www.udc.edu/programs/civil_engineering

Pursue your Civil Engineering major today…

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