Why Get a Masters in Civil Engineering Degree

Civil engineers are responsible for building structurally sound buildings, bridges and roads across the world. The scope of the civil engineering profession is the design and upkeep of all major public works that also can include ports, railways and airports.

Civil engineers play a vital role in modern building projects and are involved in every step of the building process, from the beginning design to construction and oversight when the job is done.

With the growth of the US economy today, civil engineers are in demand to assist in the building of major public works. The demand for engineers generally will increase by only 3% in the next decade, but civil engineers will see 8% increase in jobs in that time. Areas of the country that have higher job growth, such as in the southern United States, could see much higher job growth.

Earning your master’s degree in civil engineering will help you to work in one of these growing occupations:

  • Civil engineer: Design, build, supervise, operate and maintain construction systems and projects in both the public and private sector. These projects can include roads, buildings, tunnels, dams, bridges, water supply and sewage treatment systems. A very important part of this work is inspecting completed projects to ensure regulatory compliance. They also must make sure that safe work practices are being used.
  • Civil engineering technician: They assist civil engineers in planning, designing and building major work projects. Most civil engineering technicians work under the supervision of a senior civil engineer. They do much of the same work as the civil engineer, but they do not have a license so they cannot approve the design or supervise the project.
  • Construction managers: These professionals may be called general contractors or project managers. They supervise many types of construction projects, including the construction of public, residential, commercial and industrial structures. Construction managers will usually work closely with civil engineers, architects and various trade workers. Many have a strong background in architecture or engineering.

Why Earn a Master’s in Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is involved in most of the building of anything that goes on across the world. The house you live in has plans that were designed and reviewed by a civil engineer.

Civil engineers plan, design, and build all of the roads in the country, and also the bridges and tunnels we use to get to our jobs. Water treatment plants and drainage systems are also designed by these engineers.

Civil engineering is involved in every aspect of modern society. It also is a very flexible career field. Most civil engineers are involved in the planning, designing, construction and operation of their projects, or some combination therein.

For example, on a bridge project, an engineer is responsible for the design and construction, but it also has to be maintained. It is this type of versatility that makes the career attractive to many students. Some students eventually decide to specialize in a particular aspect of civil engineering, but most projects have different parts in which an engineer can work as well.

The versatility of the field is also reflected in the careers you can choose. Some civil engineers work as structural or environmental engineers. Others may work as transportation or geotechnical engineers. Still others may work as construction managers or water resource engineers.

This field is diverse and offers master’s students many options for an interesting and rewarding career. There will always be good demand for civil engineers because virtually any construction project today requires the services of expert civil engineers.

Admission Requirements

You must have a strong academic record to be admitted into a master’s in civil engineering program. Typical requirements, such as at the University of Illinois, include:

  • GRE scores: 154 verbal, 164 quantitative, and 4.0 on analytical writing portion
  • 0 GPA in undergraduate work
  • Three reference letters
  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume
  • Transcripts

Curriculum and Courses

A strong program to consider in this speciality is the Master of Science in Civil Engineering offered by Villanova University. This program can be completed in two years full time, but some students attend classes on a part time schedule, and graduate within three to four years. This program also is offered entirely online if you have work obligations.

You also can choose between these concentrations, and combine them under the guidance of your academic advisor if you like:

  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Structural engineering
  • Transportation engineering
  • Water resources and environmental engineer

This program has a requirement of 30 semester credits of graduate work, and at least 21 have to be in civil engineering and environmental engineering classes.

Some of your required and elective classes will include:

  • Business Basics for Engineers
  • Management for Engineers
  • Hazardous Waste Management
  • Design of Bridges
  • Forensic Engineering
  • Embankments and Slopes
  • Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering Processes

Career Outcomes and Job Titles

Some of the job titles that you may have with this master’s degree include:

  • Lead civil engineer
  • Junior civil engineer
  • Civil engineer technician
  • Chief engineer
  • Director of civil engineering
  • Design engineer
  • Drafting engineer

Job and Salary Outlook

  • Civil Engineers — Employment in this field is going to rise by 8% by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is about as fast as average when compared to other occupations. As the economy continues to grow, there will be more need for new roads, buildings and bridges. Also, aging infrastructure will need to be updated as well. Civil engineers also are needed for new renewable energy projects. Getting permits for these projects can take a long time, and engineers are an important part of the process. Median pay in this field is $82,200.
  • Civil Engineering Technician — Job growth for this profession will rise by 5% by 2024, which is about as fast as average. Many of these professionals are finding work with senior engineers who need assistance with new renewable energy projects. One of the areas of growth is wind energy projects; these workers need to assist in the development of wind farms to cut down on costs. In the solar power field, these engineers ensure that the plans that the civil engineer has set up for the solar arrays are implemented properly. Median pay is $49,200.
  • Construction Manager — Employment in this field will increase by 5% by 2024. However, the economy is growing faster, and areas of the country that are expanding could see substantially faster growth in construction projects. There also is more need for retrofitting existing buildings so that they are more energy efficient, which should create more jobs for construction managers with engineering expertise. Median pay in this field is $87,400.

Scholarships and Grants

  • BHW Women in STEM Academic Scholarship: This company in Austin TX offers a scholarship each year for a woman in undergraduate or graduate school who is earning a degree in engineering or science. It is a $3000 scholarship.
  • Alpha Omega Epsilon Scholarship: This national foundation offers scholarships to women who promote engineering and technical science.

Additional Resources