How to Become a Civil Engineer?

Are you thinking of becoming a Civil Engineer or already started your career and planning the next step? Learn how to become a Civil Engineer, what skills you need to succeed, how to advance your career and get promoted, and what levels of pay to expect at each step on your career path. Explore new Civil Engineer job openings and options for career transitions into related roles.

Steps to Become a Civil Engineer

Civil engineers are responsible for the design, logistics, and construction of infrastructure projects. While a quality education is vital to a career in civil engineering, you also have to possess skills that you can't learn in the classroom. Successful civil engineers have excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills. If you're willing to work extra hours to meet deadlines and you have an aptitude for educating clients, then you're ready to take the following steps.

Pursue a civil engineering degree.

To qualify for a civil engineer position, you must have at least a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering. Make sure your degree program has an accreditation from The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Depending on your specialization, your coursework will typically include mathematics, engineering mechanics, and fluid dynamics. While many civil engineers complete their education at the bachelor's level, keep in mind that a master's degree can help you qualify for management positions.

What type of degree should you pursue to become a Civil Engineer?

77% of people working as a Civil Engineer earned a Bachelor's Degree

What skills do you need to be a Civil Engineer?

  • AutoCAD
  • Cost Estimates
  • Calculations
  • Statics
  • Calculus
  • Microsoft Office Suite
  • Written Communication
  • Onboarding
Based on resume data from Glassdoor users who reported working as a Civil Engineer in the United States.

Apply for a civil engineering internship.

As you enter your junior year of college, consider applying for available civil engineering internships. Completing an internship will give you practical experience and help you build your professional network. Plus, it's not uncommon for an internship to turn into a permanent position. Civil engineering interns typically prepare documents, plans, and maps while assisting the civil engineer with resolving issues.


Start the civil engineer licensing process.

To work as a civil engineer, you must obtain a professional engineer license as proof of professional competency. After completing your bachelor's degree, you'll sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam to qualify as an engineer-in-training (EIT). EITs work with licensed professional engineers for four years before they take the professional engineer licensing exam, so after you pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, you'll need to apply for an entry-level civil engineering position.


Study for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

While you complete your four years of relevant work experience, you should also make time to study for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam, which is the exam you take to qualify for a professional engineer license. You can get study materials, test schedules, and testing locations from the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.


Take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

After completing four years of qualifying work experience, it's time to take the PE exam. To pass the test, you have to answer at least 70% of the questions directly. If you don't pass the first time, keep in mind that you can take the exam up to three times within a 12-month period. Once you pass the PE test and obtain your professional engineer license, you can apply for higher-level positions like civil engineer project manager jobs.

Civil Engineer Career Path

Civil Engineer

2 - 4Years of Experience
$78K - $115K /yrMost Likely Range
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17% advanced to

Senior Civil Engineer

2 - 4Years of Experience
$110K - $163K /yrMost Likely Range
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Civil Engineer IV

5 - 7Years of Experience
$101K - $145K /yrMost Likely Range
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Total Pay Trajectory

Civil Engineer Career Path

Summer Intern Civil Engineer
Civil Engineer
Senior Civil Engineer
Civil Engineer IV
Senior Manager of Civil Engineering
Principal Civil Engineer
Director of Civil Engineering
Chief Civil Engineer
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Related Careers in the Engineering Industry

Interested in other Engineering careers? Below are occupations that have high affinity with Civil Engineer skills. Discover some of the most common Civil Engineer career transitions, along with skills overlap.

Structural Engineer
25% skills overlap
11% transitioned to Structural Engineer