Civil engineers design, build, maintain and manage the construction of public and private facilities such as roads, pipelines, bridges, dams, highways, tunnels, subdivisions, water treatment systems and airports. Civil engineers manage both projects and people, taking an active hand in the construction of needed facilities. There are numerous advantages to becoming a civil engineer, not the least of which is a growing job market and competitive wages.
According to the United States Bureau for Labor Statistics, civil engineers held approximately 278,400 jobs as of 2008. Half of that number worked for firms that focused on architectural, engineering, and related services work, and one-fourth the government employed. The remaining civil engineers primarily worked in construction. One of the largest benefits of a civil engineering job is that the demand for new facilities and the maintenance of existing ones makes civil engineers always in demand. And since so many public facility jobs are government funded, civil engineers can expect to have government funded projects to fall back on when private companies cut back on their new building projects.
Because of the wide range of the civil engineering field, there are a number of specialized areas where one can focus based on personal interest. The main areas of focus for civil engineers include structural engineering, construction, geotechnical engineering, water resources and transportation. Civil engineers also often hold supervisory and administrative positions, and still others might choose to work in design, teaching or research.
It's established that the demand for civil engineers is steady, but when considering a new career, it's important to take into consideration the growth within your industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook, "Overall engineering employment is expected to grow by 11 percent over the 2008–18 decade....civil engineers should see the largest employment increase." Thanks to the increasing need for engineers within the construction infrastructure, civil engineering is not only a steadily in-demand job, but one that's expected to see major growth in the future.
As can be surmised from the demand and growth of civil engineering, the salary for a civil engineer is competitive. The Bureau of Labor statistics reported that civil engineers had average yearly wages of $78,560 in May 2008, and according to a 2009 survey, people with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering started at $52,048 a year on average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-11 Occupational Outlook Handbook, the starting salaries for engineers are among the highest of all college graduates.