5 Things You’ll Need to Become a Civil Engineer

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Are you thinking about becoming a civil engineer? Here at Shield Engineering, our engineers are an integral part of the team. They’re responsible for everything from evaluating failed buildings and retaining walls to creating site-appropriate design plans for new developments. Many of our engineers have been with us for years and we’re proud to be a part of achieving their career goals.

Becoming an engineer takes discipline, education, and persistence. If you’re thinking about entering this line of work, consider these five things you’ll need to become a civil engineer.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree

    By and large, licensed civil engineers have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering or a related field of study. A civil engineering degree takes four years to complete (full-time) and includes coursework in physics, calculus, mechanics, statistics, and even technical writing. When looking for a degree program, be sure to choose a program that is accredited through the Accreditation Board of Engineering Technology (ABET), a non-governmental non-profit.

  2. Passage of Exam(s)

    All civil engineers must undergo licensing examinations prior to being legally allowed to practice. After completing an ABET-approved degree program, engineers must sit for the Fundamentals of Civil Engineering Exam in their state. Certain states require other tests, but all require passage of the FE. Once passed, an engineer is officially designated as an “Engineer-in-Training” or a “CE Intern” and can move on to the next phase in the licensing process.

  3. License & Experience

    Once all qualifications have been met, an Engineer-in-Training must apply for provisional licensure in all 50 states as well as Washington D.C. if they plan to market their services to the general public. From here, state board licensing requirements vary a bit, but the general requirement is that a CE Intern practice for at least four years under a fully licensed Civil Engineer. They then become eligible for the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam. Once passed, an engineer will likely be qualified to practice as a licensed Professional Engineer.

  4. Advanced Degrees

    Many civil engineers are exploring the robust opportunities presented through advanced degree programs. Most reputable universities offer Masters in Civil Engineering degrees, or some variation thereof. It’s also possible to obtain an advanced degree in a specialty area of CE such as Environmental Engineering, Structural Engineering & Architecture, and Transportation Engineering. These degrees are not usually required for civil engineers but can be helpful as differentiators and in highly specialized markets.

  5. Certifications

    Throughout the career of a civil engineer, maintaining a roster of industry-recognized certifications is a smart idea. Not only do certifications make an engineer more marketable, they educate them on current issues, trends, and developing technologies that can aid them in their work. There are hundreds of certifications available, some completed in a weekend and some over the course of a year, with subjects like Wastewater Pollution Control System Operator Certification, Quality Assurance Certification, and more.


Do you have questions about your qualifications or do you think you’d be a good fit for one of Shield Engineering’s open positions? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

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