Civil engineers help in the designing, building, operation, and maintaining of construction projects and systems in both the public and private sector. These types of projects include, roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.
The federal government employs 10,977 civil engineers of which 291 work overseas. The Department of the Army, Navy and Air Force are the largest employer with 6,923 civilians followed by the Department of Transportation with 1,406 and the Department of Interior with 919. There are smaller numbers employed by many other agencies including the DOE, GSA, NASA and others.
Federal Government Requirements:
You must be a U.S. citizen to apply
The yearly salary for a GS-12/13 is $71,012.00 to $109,781.00 per year
The following information is excerpted from the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) published by the Department of Labor.
Analyze long range plans, survey reports, maps, and other data in order to plan projects
Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning the stages of, and risk analysis for, a project
Compile and submit permit applications to local, state, and federal agencies, verifying that projects comply with various regulations
Perform or oversee soil testing to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project’s economic feasibility
Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
Perform or oversee surveying operations in order to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or descriptions of property
Manage the repair, maintenance, and replacement of public and private infrastructure
Civil engineers inspect projects to insure regulatory compliance. In addition, they are tasked with ensuring that safe work practices are followed at construction sites.
Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer, public works director, and city manager. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. Civil engineers work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians.
Civil engineers prepare permit documents for work on projects in renewable energy. They verify that the projects will comply with federal, state, and local requirements. Regarding solar energy, these engineers conduct structural analyses for large-scale photovoltaic projects. They also evaluate the ability of solar array support structures and buildings to tolerate stresses from wind, seismic activity, and other sources. For large-scale wind projects, civil engineers often prepare roadbeds to handle large trucks that haul in the turbines. In addition, they prepare the sites on the shore or offshore to make sure that the foundations for the turbines will safely keep them upright in expected environmental conditions.
Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas:
Civil engineers need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, in one of its specialties, or in civil engineering technology. Programs in civil engineering and civil engineering technology include coursework in math, statistics, engineering mechanics and systems, and fluid dynamics, among other courses, depending on the specialty. Courses include a mix of traditional classroom learning, work in laboratories, and fieldwork.
A degree from a program accredited by the ABET is needed to earn the professional engineer (PE) license. In many states, a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology also will suffice as an academic requirement for obtaining a license.
About 1 in 4 civil engineers has a master’s degree. Further education after the bachelor’s degree, along with the PE license and previous experience, is helpful in getting a job as a manager.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations:
Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a civil engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, approve design plans, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires
A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years working under a licensed engineer
A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam
The initial FE exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.
Each state issues its own licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states, as long as the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Several states require continuing education for engineers to keep their licenses.
GS-0800 Engineering Series (Excerpted from USAJobs job announcement)
Basic Requirements for all Grades:
Degree: professional engineering. To be acceptable, the curriculum must: (1) be in a school of engineering with at least one curriculum accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a professional engineering curriculum; or (2) include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas of engineering science or physics: (a) statics, dynamics; (b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships); (c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics; (d) thermodynamics; (e) electrical fields and circuits; (f) nature and properties of materials (relating particle and aggregate structure to properties); and (g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics, or electronics.
Combination of education and experience — college-level education, training, and/or technical experience that furnished (1) a thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering, and (2) a good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their applications to one of the branches of engineering. The adequacy of such background must be demonstrated by one of the following:
Professional registration — Current registration as a professional engineer by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam, or Puerto Rico. Absent other means of qualifying under this standard, those applicants who achieved such registration by means other than written test (e.g., State grandfather or eminence provisions) are eligible only for positions that are within or closely related to the specialty field of their registration. For example, an applicant who attains registration through a State Board’s eminence provision as a manufacturing engineer typically would be rated eligible only for manufacturing engineering positions.
Written Test— Evidence of having successfully passed the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) examination, or the written test required for professional registration, which is administered by the Boards of Engineering Examiners in the various States, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.
Applicants who have passed the EIT examination and have completed all the requirements for either (a) a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology (BET) from an accredited college of university that included 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences, or (b) a BET from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) may be rated eligible for certain engineering positions at GS-5. Specified academic courses — Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours of courses in the physical, mathematical, and engineering sciences and in engineering that included the courses specified in the basic requirements.
Related curriculum — Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology or in an appropriate professional field, e.g., physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of a degree in engineering, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience acquired under professional engineering supervision and guidance.
When applying for a GS-13 position these additional requirements apply:
You have at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-12 grade level that included advising and providing in-depth experience in design, construction and the processes of construction management; applying extensive knowledge in managing, planning, organizing, directing, coordinating and evaluating of activities of a project and the monitoring of budgets.
When applying for a GS-12 position these additional requirements apply:
You have at least one year of specialized experience equivalent to the GS-11 grade level that included providing technical assistance; preparing and reviewing designs; planning and managing construction, operation and maintenance and dealing effectively with complex and sensitive issues that affect project operation.
The employment of civil engineers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024 per the Bureau of Labor Statics. Our infrastructure will continue to age, civil engineers will be needed to rebuild bridges, roads, dams, airports, buildings and other structures and this will be a growing field for years to come.
The information provided may not cover all aspects of unique or special circumstances, federal and postal regulations, and programs are subject to change. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic human resource guidance and factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your situation and this service is not affiliated with OPM, the postal service or any federal entity. You should consult with school counselors, hiring agency personnel offices, and human resource professionals where appropriate. Neither the publisher or author shall be liable for any loss or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages.
About The Author
A Pennsylvania native, Betty Boyd moved to the Tennessee Valley in 1994. She retired in early 2012 after 30 years of Government service. Boyd was an Acquisition Manager/IT Manager/ Project Manager during her 30-year career. Boyd also served as a supervisor and team leader during her career. In 2012 Boyd founded a consulting firm, Boyd Consulting Services, which offers writing services to clients and companies. For more information about these writing services see the following website: http://www.BettyBoydWriting.com/.
Betty attended Athens State University, Athens, AL and received a B.B.A. in Management of Technology in 2000. She received her Masters of Science degree from Syracuse University with a concentration in Information Management in 2007. Boyd is a certified Level III contracting professional and she received a Masters level certificate in Project Management from the National Defense University in 2008.