6 Things to Expect When Pursuing a Degree in Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is a dynamic and essential field that plays a pivotal role in shaping the infrastructure and built environment around us. Pursuing a degree in civil engineering opens up a world of opportunities for those who have a passion for designing, planning, and construction.

According to Data USA, as of 2020, there were around 388,171 active civil engineers in the US. As more civil engineering graduates enter the market, the number of professionals in the civil engineering sector will gradually increase.

Indeed reports that civil engineers make $88,906 a year on average in the US. This is a good reason why so many opt for this engineering career path compared to other engineering fields. 

However, embarking on this journey comes with its own set of challenges and rewards, especially when enrolled in a civil engineering program. In this article, we will explore some key things to expect when pursuing a degree in civil engineering.

#1 Diverse and Comprehensive Curriculum

One of the first things you can expect when pursuing a degree in civil engineering is a diverse and comprehensive curriculum. According to EducatingEngineers.com, civil engineering encompasses a wide range of disciplines, including structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering, environmental engineering, and more. As a result, your coursework will cover a broad spectrum of topics, giving you a solid foundation in various aspects of engineering. 

From the principles of mechanics to learning about surveying techniques, you will gain a well-rounded education through this program. This bachelor degree in engineering will equip you with the skills needed to tackle real-world challenges that professional engineers have to deal with. After that, you can enter the professional field and start building your career in civil engineering. 

#2 Hands-On Learning

Civil engineering is a practical field. It requires hands-on experience. Therefore, expect to spend a significant amount of time in labs, workshops, and fieldwork. The hands-on experiences will allow you to apply theoretical concepts to real-world situations. 

Whether you’re testing the strength of materials or conducting site visits to assess construction progress, these practical learning opportunities will enhance your problem-solving abilities. That, in turn, will prepare you for an exciting career in civil engineering.

#3 Collaborative Projects

Civil engineering projects are rarely solo endeavors. Collaboration is a cornerstone of the profession, and your degree program will reflect this reality. You can expect to work on group projects that simulate real engineering scenarios. These can include designing a bridge, planning a transportation network, or developing an environmentally sustainable infrastructure.

Collaborating with peers from diverse backgrounds will help you develop your teamwork, communication, and project management skills. It will also expose you to different perspectives, enriching your learning experience.

#4 Rigorous Problem Solving

Civil engineers are problem solvers at heart. Throughout your degree program, you will encounter complex challenges that require innovative solutions. 

From designing structures and addressing traffic congestion to ensuring the safe disposal of waste, you will develop a knack for analytical thinking and creative problem-solving. Be prepared to spend time analyzing data, conducting simulations, and refining your designs to meet practical and ethical considerations.

#5 Emphasis on Sustainability

In today’s world, sustainable practices are a crucial aspect of civil engineering. As you pursue your degree, you can expect a strong emphasis on incorporating environmental, social, and economic sustainability into your projects. 

You will learn about concepts such as green infrastructure, renewable energy integration, and minimizing the environmental impact of construction activities. Your education will equip you to create solutions that balance the needs of society with the preservation of the planet.

#6 Continuous Technological Advancements

The field of civil engineering is constantly evolving, thanks to advancements in technology. Expect to stay current with the latest software, tools, and techniques used in the industry. You will learn how to use computer-aided design (CAD) software, building information modeling (BIM) systems, and simulation tools to visualize and analyze your designs.

Emerging technologies like drones and 3D printing are becoming increasingly relevant in civil engineering as well, offering new avenues for innovation and efficiency. Over time, these technologies too will be addressed and discussed in your curriculum. 


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, every year, the US sees around 24,200 openings for civil engineers. With a degree in civil engineering, you too could be applying to many of these openings. However, before you can do that, you first need to graduate as a civil engineer. By knowing what to expect from a civil engineering program, this journey will become much easier for you. 

Thus, before you start your undergraduate journey to become a civil engineer, go through the points discussed above. That way, you’ll get to build your expectations from the program and prepare for the challenges it has to offer.

Leave a Reply