Civil designer, civil engineering assistant, civil engineering designer, design technician, engineer technician, engineering assistant, engineering specialist, and engineering technicia
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.
- Having an associate’s degree in civil engineering technology is preferred to gain entry into this field. Although not required, employers generally look for this degree.
- When choosing a school, select a program endorsed by ABET, an organization that accredits college programs in science and technology. Technical or vocational schools often offer engineering technology programs.
- Certification can also help technicians move ahead in their profession. One of the primary organizations overseeing certification for civil engineering technicians is the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET).
- Some civil engineering technicians enter this occupation after working in a related profession, as a drafter or CAD (computer aided design) operator for example.
- Math and science courses like geometry, trigonometry, chemistry, and physics will provide a solid foundation for a prospective civil engineering technician. Having a good understanding of computers will be helpful as well.
- Involvement in math and science clubs will expose students to a variety of projects and events to help them determine their interests.
- Finding someone in the field of civil engineering to speak with for an informational interview can also be a valuable way to gain insight into the profession.
- Find an internship program that matches your interests. Local construction companies or city planning offices may have opportunities to take advantage of.
- Look into certifications in specialty areas like water control, construction materials testing, or land management. Earning a certificate in a specific area demonstrates your interest and dedication to understanding your craft.
- Civil + Structural Engineer Magazine
- CE Magazine
- American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians
- National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET)
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.