What is Civil Engineering?

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

Written By: Urvi Bhuwania

Civil engineering deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the built environment, and as such, is one of the oldest branches of engineering. Hospitals, schools, transportation systems, sanitary efforts, energy systems, and waterways represent some of what civil engineers are responsible for. They often work full time, and transition between working at the office and overseeing operations on construction sites.


Most jobs in civil engineering require at minimum, a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, civil engineering technology, or one of the many specialties under civil engineering. People higher up are usually expected to have a graduate degree, and if they want to directly provide services to the public, a license. However, the specific requirements for a license differs between different states and regions.


There are a couple different categories under civil engineering, some of the most prominent being structural and transportation engineering. Structural engineering is responsible for structures like buildings, bridges, tunnels, and hospitals, while transport engineering deals with railroads, subways, airports, waterways, and roads. Water engineers focus on the interactions between infrastructure and water, and use their knowledge to develop waterways and dams, and redirect bodies of water. Geotechnical engineers do similar work, but instead of water, they focus on the contact between infrastructure and the environment. This involves assessing environmental risk factors affecting construction and mining, and determining the materials best suited for a project in a certain environment. Sanitary engineering, more recently developing into environmental engineering, is also really important. This discipline helps with environmental related problems like public health, waste disposal, water quality, and pollution. Lastly, construction and management engineering deals with more of the maintenance, upholding of safety standards, and budget and time portions of construction.

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