Civil Designer, Civil Engineering Assistant, Civil Engineering Designer, Design Technician, Engineer Technician, Engineering Assistant, Engineering Specialist, and Engineering Technician
Civil engineering technicians assist civil engineers to plan, design, and build major construction projects like bridges, highways, utilities, and skyscrapers. Their responsibilities include a wide range of tasks such as estimating construction costs, developing design specifications, preparing drawings, and surveying land.
Many civil engineering technicians say they like that their job helps make the world a better place or make someone’s life better.
On a typical day:
- Visit a jobsite to test or collect materials and inspect the progress of a project.
- Assist in surveys and perform field operations.
- Review technical documents and estimate operational costs.
- Drive to multiple construction sites to ensure that work is being done correctly and staying on schedule.
- Communicate with a team of professionals including civil engineers, surveyors, surveying technicians, and construction workers.
- Ensure that construction adheres to design specifications and applicable codes.
- Review project drawings, prepare reports, and document data and activities.
- Work both in an office setting and on various job sites.
- Work in laboratories to test soil samples and construction materials.
- Set up and monitor instruments for traffic studies.
- Be familiar with various computer design programs to analyze site data and write reports.
Since work on construction sites is outside, bad weather can upend a typical day and affect the work schedule of professionals in this field.
- Critical thinking
- Active listening
- Reading comprehension, writing, and speaking
- Mathematics and complex problem solving
- Monitoring, judgement, and decision making
- Analytical or scientific software – Coordinate geometry COGO software
- Computer aided design CAD software – Auto desk AutoCAD, Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D, Bently Microstation
- Development environment software – Microsoft Visual Basic, National Instruments LabVIEW
- Microsoft Outlook, Office, Excel, Word
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software – SAP
- Graphics or photo imaging software – Graphics software
- Map creation software - Bentley Systems InRoads Suite, Digital terrain modeling software, ESRI ArcGIS software, Geographic information system GIS software
- Construction companies
- Utility companies
- Transportation companies
- Engineering and architecture firms
- The U.S. Military
- State and local governments
Civil engineering technicians may choose to specialize in specific industries and have titles like:
- Concrete engineering technician
- Geotechnical engineering technician
- Highway engineering technician
- Structural engineering technician
- Transportation engineering technician
Advancing as a civil engineering technician may require additional training or certification to become knowledgeable in specialized fields. This time commitment may interfere with competing personal or family obligations, but gaining this expertise, especially in a high demand niche, could pay off.
- Sustainable design and renewable energy projects
- Modular construction and 3D printed dwellings
- Augmented reality and virtual reality in the design process
- Building Information Modelling (BIM)
- Advanced building materials
- Smart buildings
- Connected Homes
People who find this career path satisfying often enjoyed hands on activities when they were younger and “learned by doing.” They enjoy being outside and working with tools, machinery, wood, etc. They also like working with data and details and appreciate routine and procedure.
- Civil Engineering Technicians need an associate’s degree in civil engineering technology or something very similar. In some cases, a vocational school certificate is enough to get started
- Degree programs should be accredited by ABET
- Practical education gained from work experiences is vital. Many technicians work as drafters or computer-aided design operators
- Per O*Net, 30% of workers in this field have a post-secondary certificate, 28% have some college but no degree, and 21% have an associate’s
- There are many software programs to be familiar with, including:
- Analytical software - Coordinate geometry COGO software
- CAD software - Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D, or Autodesk Revit
- Development environment software - Microsoft Visual Basic and National Instruments LabVIEW
- Certification options include:
- American Concrete Institute International - Adhesive Anchor Installer
- National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies -
- Highway Construction Inspection or Engineering Technologies
- Certification in Electrical Power Testing - Level III
- Autodesk, Inc. - Autodesk Certified Professional in Civil 3D for Infrastructure Design
- Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering - Certified Senior Technology
- The Association for Materials Protection and Performance - Corrosion Technician
- American Concrete Institute International - Concrete Strength Testing Technician
- Workers generally receive ample On-the-Job training, as well
- Decide if you want to pursue an associate’s or an initial certification to get started
- Stock up on courses in engineering, design, chemistry, physics, geometry, and trigonometry
- Learn how to use computer-aided drafting and related software
- Take on entry-level jobs as a drafter or CAD operator to get real world experience
- Volunteer with local Habitat for Humanity construction projects to learn about materials, methods, and tools. Check out overseas opportunities, if you want added adventure!
- Gain extra practical work experience through Civil Engineering Technician internships
- Read articles and watch tutorials about Civil Engineering Technician duties
- Ask working Civil Engineering Technicians if they’ll let you shadow them or if they can mentor you
- Join professional Civil Engineering organizations to learn, grow, and network
- When ready, get certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies or other applicable entities. Certifications aren’t required for all jobs, but they can bolster your credentials
- BLS projects job opportunities for Civil Engineering Technicians will be fairly consistent. Competition will be steady so to stand out you may need special certifications or experience
- With an estimated 6,500 openings per year, candidates may have to move to where the work is. The states with the highest employment levels for Civil Engineering Techs are Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, and North Carolina
- Civil Engineering Technician internships are a great way to get much-needed practical experience
- Sign up for alerts on job portals such as Indeed, Simply Hired, Glassdoor, and Zippia, but also consider Craigslist for smaller, local jobs
- Visit your school’s career center for assistance putting together a resume and practicing mock interviews
- Review Civil Engineering Technicians resume templates to get ideas for wording and formats
- Attend local job fairs to talk with recruiters and share your resume
- Talk to your teachers and past supervisors about their willingness to serve as personal references
- Study Civil Engineering Technicians interview questions to prepare for interviews!
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
- American Institute of Steel Construction
- American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians
- American Society of Civil Engineers
- National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
There are several occupations that use many of the same skills as a civil engineering technician.
- Drafters (Architectural, Civil, Mechanical, Electric, and Electronic)
- Surveying and mapping technicians
- Construction and building inspectors
- Civil engineers
The work of civil engineering technicians can be seen everywhere – in highways, bridges, skyscrapers, airfields, dams, tunnels, and nearly every other structure essential to modern living. Those who succeed in this profession have a natural inclination to solve problems, enjoy hands on work, and communicate successfully with a wide variety of people. This growing field offers a multitude of different work settings, making it an interesting and rewarding field for those who like new challenges.