Working with infrastructure
Civil engineering is the most common specialty chosen by students in the field. It's also one of the most important sects of engineering for the advancement and maintenance of cities.
Civil engineers work directly on the design, implementation and maintenance of infrastructure. That means that the roads, bridges, sewer systems, electrical systems - or basically the cities around you in their entirety - are all products of civil engineers.
Types of Civil Engineers
While it's true that civil engineers generally deal with physical infrastructure, this category is still quite large and can be broken down into several streams. Depending on where your interests lie, you might focus your education and career on:
- Structural engineering - working with buildings and bridges;
- Environmental engineering - working with the environmental aspects of development, such as analyzing the environmental effects of a construction project;
- Geotechnical engineering - working with the physical landscape, such as soil and bedrock;
- Water resources engineering - working with water treatment and sewage facilities;
- Transportation engineering - working with transport infrastructure, such as roads and subway tunnels;
- Urban planning engineering - working with the design of city and community infrastructure.
The Mind of Technology
Civil engineers reside at the forefront of technology - in fact, they're often the ones at the source of innovation and advancement. That's because they're involved directly with the day-to-day operation of some extremely large and complicated infrastructures, which gives them firsthand knowledge on what works, what works better and what needs improvement.
Civil engineers are also involved with all levels of the infrastructure process. They're responsible for design, scheduling, construction, testing, maintenance and updating of all the facets that build a community, and are often applauded for the beauty and efficiency of their designs. Just think of the last bridge you drove over - chances are it was made out of a combination of necessity, efficiency, innovation and aesthetics, all of which are overseen by a civil engineer.
The physical infrastructure of a particular area isn't simply installed and left to its own devices - there are daily concerns associated with all communities, as they rely on the efficiency of waste treatment, the safety of the water supply and the dependability of roads and public transit systems. Civil engineers work as problem solvers, overseeing the continued efficiency of the infrastructure and addressing any difficulties (or even disasters!).
Expected salaries for civil engineers are dependant on the type of engineering, as well as the employing company or organization and the projects assigned. On average, as a civil engineer you could expect a starting salary in the mid $40 000 a year range.