According to the bureau of labor statistics (U.S. Department of Labor) civil engineers constitute 49% of the architectural and construction industry. A survey conducted by Global Insight Inc reveals; that the global market share of the construction industry amounted to $3.9 billion in 2004; the amount denotes the expenditure incurred by 55 major countries in the field of construction. The report also estimated that the construction industry would grow by 2.6% in the following year. (BNET)
With such optimistic forecast of the construction industry it is apparent that a lot of career opportunities exist for civil engineers and the rising growth curve indicates that more opportunities will be created for civil engineers in the future.
“Civil engineering includes the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the infrastructure that surrounds us and is the underpinning of our society”. (University of New Mexico)
This definition implies that civil engineering is the collective process leading to development and operation of infrastructure. It may be noted that the term infrastructure has a wide range of implications and refers to all man made structures which are built with the intention of making life easy. So the term infrastructure may be implied to permanent structures like buildings, water treatment plants, factories, transmission towers, roads, dams, canals, sewer system etc.
Civil engineering is an oldest discipline of science, the job of a civil engineer is complex in nature because they have to consider many factors while accomplishing the job. Civil engineers often work on infrastructure development project where they are required to use their analytical skill and create the design of the project; they are also required to create a process flowchart in order to coordinate all the activities that are crucial to completion of the project. Civil engineers are also required to lead a team of other technical specialists such as electrical engineers. Time and cost are two crucial limiting factors that civil engineers need to be concerned about at all times, it is their job to estimate project cost and project duration and make sure that the project is completed in desired time and at the right cost. (U.S. department of labor)
The Civil Engineering Course
In order to gain a better understanding of the employability of civil engineers it is important to indulge in a brief description of the education and training that civil engineers receive.
Generally all bachelors’ courses in civil engineering are structured into three progressive levels. (Concordia University) These progressive levels are;
1. Foundation course in engineering; this course is delivered to students during the first and the second year and it includes subjects that are common to all disciplines of engineering. Subjects covered in foundational course are technical drawing, applied sciences, math, material science, mechanics and thermo dynamics etc.
2. The civil engineering core; this course begins from the second year and the students receive instructions on subjects that are common to all branches of civil engineering. As a part of this course students are thought subjects such as geology, structural analysis and design, hydraulics etc. In the third year students get to deepen their knowledge with subjects like structural design, soil mechanics and hydrology etc.
3. .Specialization; students choose their specialization in the third year. The study of specialization begins in the third year and continues into the final year. The following are some common specialization that students of civil engineering can take up.
· Structural Engineering
· Geo-Technical Engineering
· Transportation Engineering
· Environmental Engineering
· Water Resources Engineering
An overview of Current Job Trends; Based on Job Openings Available to Fresh Civil Engineers
Most fresh engineering graduates are placed receive job placements at their colleges, thus an analysis of the nature of jobs provided to fresh civil engineering graduate will provide an understanding of prevailing market trends where career opportunities for civil engineers is concerned.
University of Leeds
Students of the University of Leeds, school of engineering (civil engineering department) have secured jobs such as assistant site manager, structural engineer, and site engineer. Students of this university have received placement in firms like Shepherd Construction, Constain Burro Hapold Engineering, Sterling Mynard and Partners, Morgan, White Young and Green, Waterman Group and HBPW Consulting. Civil engineering graduates of the university of Leeds have also found placement in the banking, accounting, police service, civil service, and general consultancy segment. (University of Leeds)
NDSU College of Engineering
NDSU College of Engineering’s batch of civil engineering have received placement in a wide variety of jobs. About 40% of engineers have accepted jobs in private consulting firms while another 40% have taken up similar positions with federal government organizations and military and the remaining 20% have accepted positions with the contracting firms. The average starting salary accepted by NDSU civil engineering graduate was $42,000.
University of Glainorgan
Graduate civil engineers from the University of Glainorgan have received placement in consulting companies and contracting companies. Most graduate civil engineers receive a great pay package along with benefits like company car, repayment of study loan etc. (University of Glainorgan)
According to Larry Ruth the assistant director of ASCE the market for civil engineers will remain adequate this can be attributed to the growing population, which has created the need for housing infrastructure. (Thomas)
Daniel Halpin the professor of civil engineering at Purdue University believes that the transportation sector is responsible for having created a recent spurt of opportunities for civil engineers. Halpin states that Caltrans a California based civil transportation company has created numerous opportunities for civil engineering graduates. (Thomas)
The environmental engineering segment is not growing at the rate it was expected to grow at, however at Purdue University the number of employers looking for Environmental engineers has increased by two and half times. (Thomas)
The trend of civil engineers opting for a career outside their area of core competency has also been observed at Purdue University. Quite a large number of civil engineering graduates have opted for jobs in consultancy firms, financial services and the government organization. Experts believe that because of their analytical skills and a training in problem solving techniques Civil engineering is accepted as a general qualification. (Thomas)
Based on the review of jobs it may be stated that civil engineers have two broad options either they can go for jobs that enable them to directly apply their technical skills or they can go into a career where they would be using only their analytical skills. Generally for people wanting to practice the technical aspect of their training they can either join a civil engineering consulting firm or serve as design consultant or they can join a contracting company which will enable them to put their training directly into practice.
Another option open to civil engineers is to get a job in fields such as financial services and general consulting firm.
Nature of Civil Engineers Job and Salary Issue
Most civil engineers who wish to work as technicians begin their career as Trainee Technicians. Technicians are responsible for surveying the construction site and collection of data required for planning and design. Technicians need to possesses a lot of dexterity because they are directly involved in all the physical task related to construction. Technicians work in office at the same time they work on site. While work at office is very convenient, site work can tend to be difficult and demanding. In 2004 Civil engineering technicians earned a median salary of $38, 840. (Careers.State university.com) ASCE has statistically calculated the average salary across the entire civil engineering profession at $55,000.
It may be stated that a career in civil engineering entails a great deal of responsibility. Because of the inherent complexity of he civil engineering course very few people are able to successfully complete the civil engineering training. The difference in the demand supply ration of civil engineering makes a career in this field financially rewarding.
Global Construction reaches $4 billion. BNET.
From http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_hb268/is_200502/ai_n13144630, Retrieved August 10, 2008
What is civil engineering?. University of New Mexico.
From http://www.unm.edu/~civil/whatcivil.html, Retrieved August 11, 2008
Civil Engineering. Concordia University.
From http://www.bcee.concordia.ca/index.php/Civil_Engineering , Retrieved August 10, 2008
Under graduate Course. University of Leeds.
From http://www.engineering.leeds.ac.uk/cgi-bin/sis/eng/ext/programme.cgi?navtop=civil&cmd=details&level=ug&progcode=MEN-CIV%2FCON9, Retrieved August 10, 2008
University of Glainorgan From http://www.glam.ac.uk/sot/704/civilengineering,
Retrieved August 12, 2008
Outlook Occupational Handbook. (2008). U.S. Department of Labor.
From http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm, Retrieved August 11, 2008
Thomas Charlotte. Civil Engineer: Job Openign. Graduate Engineer.
From http://www.graduatingengineer.com/resources/articles/20000706/Civil-Engineering:-Job-Hunting, Retrieved August 11, 2008
From http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/288/Civil-Engineering-Technician.html, Retrieved August,11 2008