How to Get Into Civil Engineering

How to Get Into Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is one of the most widely practiced engineering disciplines around the world. Civil Engineers are experts trained in documenting and maintaining our infrastructure systems. They ensure safe construction practices and operations for roadways, bridges, parking areas, sites, drainage systems, and much more.

Civil engineering has certain educational, testing, and experience requirements that will be outlined in this article. Count on approximately 4 to 6 years to complete the required steps to becoming a licensed and practicing civil engineer.

Education and Degrees

Many colleges and universities offer undergraduate bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering. This is generally a 4 or 5-year program. Within these programs, students take a variety of courses in math, engineering, planning, design, and fluid dynamics. They learn through different means and methods that include classwork, internships, and onsite fieldwork.

Many civil engineering students go on to receive a master’s level degree that can offer skills to enter into leadership and managerial positions. The coursework tends to cover the same topics presented in a bachelor’s degree program with a much more concentrated approach that does not include liberal arts requirements. The master’s program will be more in-depth and could include classes in cost estimating and project management.

For those seeking a doctoral-level degree, candidates are required to complete a topic-specific original research project and present a dissertation of the topic. Civil engineers with PHDs often go on to teach or take on consulting roles for civic organizations or large-scale municipal and federal projects.


It is common for engineering schools to require that students work for a professional firm or municipal engineering department for a semester or over the summer break to gain hands-on experience and practical skills. These opportunities also allow students to network with seasoned professionals, receive mentorship, and possibly find future work in the field.


Civil engineers who intend to offer their services to the public must complete a certain number of hours working in an engineering capacity and then take and pass the

Principles and Practices of Engineering (PE) examination to become a Civil Engineer (CE) professional. Upon passing the exam, you can apply for a license in the state or states in which you intend to practice. Each state has its own requirements for licensure.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) offers information and support to engineers who are in the training phase of their careers. They offer test preparation assistance and information on regional testing centers.

Apply for and Secure a Job

Once you have a good internship under your belt, you likely have some professional contacts that can assist you in applying for an engineer-in-training position. You can use your network, professional contacts, the ASCE updated jobs boards postings, and social media (LinkedIn) to search for openings and firms that are hiring.

Once you have been hired, ask questions, concentrate on learning a variety of practical skills, meet as many engineering professionals as you can by attending organization gatherings, take continuing education classes, and work hard. Once your training is completed, you will be better equipped to narrow down your field of concentration within the industry.

Bottom Line

Getting into the field of Civil Engineering does take time. You will need to attend college and do an internship to learn the basics and to gain technical skills. After graduating, you can take the required licensing examinations and find a position as an engineer-in-training to start your career.