As a civil engineer, the structural integrity of buildings, roads and other infrastructure is in your hands -- and with that comes responsibility for the public’s safety. In the United States, ensuring you have the qualifications necessary for a career in civil engineering typically starts with studying at the university level. That’s just the start, however. Here’s what else you can expect if you want to become a civil engineer in the U.S.
Also see: How to Become a Civil Engineer in the UK
Attend an Accredited University Program
Becoming a civil engineer in the U.S. starts with earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from a University that offers a program accredited by the licensure board in the state in which you want to work. During your education, you’ll take extensive coursework in mathematics, including calculus and trigonometry, as well as courses in design concepts, structural engineering and more. Taking business or leadership classes will also help you in your career, once you’ve become a professional engineer or are running your own firm.
Complete an Engineering Internship
The training phase of your career doesn’t stop after your undergraduate degree, however. Both during and after your university studies, consider an internship. Doing one or more internships during or shortly after your studies will help you gain practical skills and to network with engineering firms that may be hiring. Unlike some other internship programs, civil engineering internships are typically paid.
Practical Training on the Job
The next step is to find a job working in an engineering firm, working under a Professional Engineer who’s already licensed by the National Society of Professional Engineers. You can stay at this level throughout your career, if you so desire. If you seek a management position, you’ll need to move onto pursuing the more prestigious Professional Engineer qualification. The first step is to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam offered by NSPE. Upon passing the exam, you’ll be considered an "Engineer in Training."
Preparing to become a Professional Engineer
Work under a Professional Engineer for four years and then take the Principles and Practice in Engineering exam offered through your state’s exam board. As you might imagine, both the Fundamentals and the Principles and Practice tests cover the basics of civil engineering. The Principles and Practice exam, however, is much more rigorous and often requires a serious time commitment, and perhaps even refresher coursework or prep courses. Even for seasoned engineers, it’s not a walk in the park. Some engineers only attempt the Professional Engineer status after earning a master’s degree in civil engineering, during which time you’ll cover more advanced topics in civil engineering.
Earning PE Status
If you pass, you’ll be awarded the distinction of Professional Engineer status. This can advance your career in big ways. You’ll be able to be the principal engineer on projects, to put your stamp on the work of others, and to move into management or ownership roles within an engineering firm.
Being a civil engineer in the U.S. can be a rewarding career that’s full of challenge and good pay, but making it to the highest levels takes a great deal of commitment.
Also see: 5 Things Every Civil Engineer Should Add to Their CV
Did you take the following steps to become a Civil Engineer? How did you find it? your thoughts and comments below please...