Become a Civil Engineer in 2021?

Become a civil engineer in 2021? Without civil engineers, it would be hard to tell if the foundation of infrastructure is strong enough to prevent serious problems, like collapse. Civil engineers ensure that buildings, roads, and bridges, among others, are well-built by overseeing the construction project from the beginning to the end.

Should you be a civil engineer? Let's find out through these questions:

  1. What is the average salary of a civil engineer?
  2. What is the job market like for civil engineers? Would it be hard for you to get a job?
  3. Would this occupation be compatible with your personality and interests?
  4. What kind of education do you need to become a civil engineer?

Let's get started.


Become a Civil Engineer in 2021?

One of the most famous structural failures in history was the Tower of Pisa. The Tower of Pisa is now a tourist attraction, though, and a lot of people from all over the world visit Italy for it, so the failure hasn't been a failure at all but a blessing in disguise.

If the civil engineer had made sure that it's built on a stable and solid foundation, it couldn't have been one of the most popular landmarks in the world.

1. What is the average salary of a civil engineer?

Civil engineers earn more than the average Americans.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers earned $95,440 in 2020. They were outearned by engineers who specialize in:

  • Petroleum Engineering: $154,330
  • Computer Hardware Engineering: $126,140
  • Nuclear Engineering: $125,130
  • Aerospace Engineering: $121,110
  • Chemical Engineering: $114,820
  • Electronics Engineering: $112,320
  • Electrical Engineering: $105,990
  • Agricultural Engineering: $101,620

Those who specialize in industrial engineering earned $1,830 less than civil engineers in the same year.

Based on the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the base salary of civil engineers had been increasing from 2000 through 2020. The total wage growth was $72,650.

And if that upward trend were to continue, civil engineers could earn $190,985 in 2030. That’d be $34,595 more than they earned in 2020.

Here is how the 2019 base salaries break down by percentile.

  • 10th Percentile: $56,160 (starting salary estimate)
  • 25th Percentile: $69,100
  • 50th Percentile: $88,570 (median salary)
  • 75th Percentile: $115,110
  • 90th Percentile: $144,810

There is an $88,650 difference between the 10th Percentile and the 90th Percentile.

The state where they are in also affects the base salary. In 2020, the highest-paid civil engineers were found in California. They earned $113,200.

These are the other states where civil engineers who earned more than $95,440:

  • New York: $105,210
  • New Jersey: $100,690
  • Alaska: $100,160
  • Oklahoma: $98,940
  • Colorado: $98,520
  • Massachusetts: $98,140
  • Virginia: $97,920
  • Connecticut: $96,640
  • District of Columbia: $96,350
  • Nevada: $96,300
  • Minnesota: $95,620

Civil engineers in Vermont had a base salary of $79,230 in the same year, the lowest in the United States.

2. What is the job market like for civil engineers? Would it be hard for you to get a job?

Most of the engineers in the United States specialize in civil engineering.

In 2020, there were 300,850 civil engineers according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They outnumbered:

  • Industrial Engineers: 290,190
  • Mechanical Engineers: 293,960
  • Electronics Engineers: 185,220
  • Electronics Engineers: 122,320
  • Computer Hardware Engineers: 64,710
  • Aerospace Engineers: 60,630
  • Environmental Engineers: 50,260

There were only 1,440 agricultural engineers in the same year.

Although there were times when the number of civil engineers decreased, the direction is upward regardless. In fact, the total job growth from 2000 to 2020 was 93,770.

And if it were to continue to go up, there would be 6,017 more civil engineers in 2030.

45,900 of the civil engineers in the United States were in California in 2020. Here are the other states where over 10,000 civil engineers were found:

  • Texas: 28,990
  • Florida: 16,250
  • New York: 14,670
  • Colorado: 11,190
  • Washington: 11,150
  • Pennsylvania: 11,050
  • North Carolina: 10,960
  • Virginia: 10,910
  • Illinois: 10,500

Only 760 civil engineers were found in Vermont in the same year.

Now, would it be hard for you to get a job?

I used Indeed to find the number of job postings for this occupation. Job postings give us a real-time estimate of the demand for a particular occupation. It has been rated the most popular search engine for job seekers by several sites.

Searching for "Civil Engineer" in the United States gave me a total of 31,270 job postings (10,335 of which are title only) across the United States.

As there is 1 job opportunity for every 9 civil engineers, getting a job in this field wouldn’t be hard. In fact, there’s a shortage of workers.

3. Would this occupation be compatible with your personality and interests?

The Holland Codes or the Holland Occupational Themes (RIASEC) refers to a career and vocational choice theory. After taking a RIASEC assessment, your results show your scores across six different occupational themes: Realistic (R), Investigative (I), Artistic (A), Social (S), Enterprising (E), and Conventional (C).

The Strong Interest Inventory is the gold standard for figuring out your interests, but it is a controlled assessment. It isn't free. You need a certified professional to administer it to you. A free alternative evaluation is available here.

Civil engineers scored high in the Realistic (95) and Investigative (83) themes.

People that score high in the realistic theme tend to describe themselves as reliable, practical, thrifty, persistent, reserved, and self-reliant. They are motivated by building, repairing, and being outdoors.

Moreover, people that score high in the investigative theme tend to describe themselves as thoughtful, analytical, intellectual, complex, independent, and curious. They are motivated by analyzing, inquiring, and researching.

This isn’t surprising because civil engineers have to rely on themselves and their own abilities to ensure that a construction project is going according to plan. They are in charge, so they have to be able to analyze complex situations and enjoy fieldwork.

They aren’t as enterprising as engineering managers and as social as engineering teachers, though. They like being by themselves more than being with other people.

In addition, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in perceiving the world and making decisions. Many people discover their Myers-Briggs type to help determine which career to go into.

There isn't an even distribution of type among the United States population. According to the MBTI Manual Third Edition, 13.8% of the US population is an ISFJ (The Defender), the most common type. The second most common type is ESFJ (The Caregiver), 12.3% of the American population.

Meanwhile, only 1.5% of the US population is INFJ (The Advocate).

Based on the graph above, 24.4% of civil engineers are ISTJ. ISTJs (The Inspector) always base their judgments on facts. They are analytical, which is why they like data and research. They are decisive and have a strong sense of responsibility.

Here are the other personality types found among civil engineers:

  • ESTJ (The Director): 17.3%
  • ISTP (The Crafter): 9.5%
  • ESTP (The Persuader): 9.5%

Based on the results, civil engineers like systems and processes.

On the other hand, those who are most likely to become civil engineers are the ENTJs. ENTJs (The Commander) are determined and driven. They are natural-born leaders as they know what they want and they go after it, and they know how to utilize other people’s talents.

Those who tend to become civil engineering also have these personality types:

  • INTJ (The Architect): 2.4 SSR
  • ISTJ (The Inspector): 2 SSR
  • ENTP (The Debater): 2 SSR

Most of them like structure and order.

4. What kind of education do you need to become a civil engineer?

You have to finish at least a bachelor’s degree to be a civil engineer. A bachelor’s degree is required to be allowed to take the licensure examination.

According to the Occupational Information Network, among the civil engineers:

  • 43% have a bachelor’s degree
  • 26% have a master’s degree
  • 31% have higher educational attainment than a master’s degree

The educational requirement is the same for engineering managers; a bachelor’s degree is enough. As for the license, some states require it but some don’t, so it depends.

Nonetheless, based on the data, a lot of engineering managers have a master’s degree, so you may as well consider getting a graduate degree if you want to have that as your occupation.

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