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What Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians Do About this section

Civil engineering technicians
Civil engineering technicians confer with project supervisors to determine details of a project.

Civil engineering technologists and technicians help civil engineers plan, design, and build highways, bridges, utilities, and other infrastructure projects. They also help to plan, design, and build commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects.

Duties

Civil engineering technologists and technicians typically do the following:

  • Read and review project drawings and plans to determine the sizes of structures
  • Confer with engineers to prepare plans
  • Develop plans and estimate costs for constructing systems and operating facilities
  • Use computer aided design (CAD) software to draft project drawings
  • Conduct field surveys to collect data on site conditions and inspect structures
  • Test appropriateness of construction materials and soil samples
  • Observe project sites to ensure that construction conforms to design specifications and applicable codes
  • Prepare reports and document project activities and data
  • Set up and help maintain project files and records

Civil engineering technicians typically install, troubleshoot, and maintain designs created by engineers. They may work under the direction of engineers or engineering technologists.

Civil engineering technologists typically help licensed engineers improve designs or incorporate new technology. They may be team leaders, instructing civil engineering technicians on installing equipment, systems, or structures.

These technologists and technicians observe progress on a jobsite, collect data, and complete reports to document project activities. Because they are not licensed, civil engineering technologists and technicians cannot approve designs or supervise the overall project.

In addition, civil engineering technologists and technicians sometimes estimate construction costs, develop specifications, and prepare drawings. They also may set up and monitor various instruments for traffic studies. Their duties often require use of software to design projects, collect and analyze data, prepare reports, and manage files.

Work Environment About this section

Civil engineering technicians
Civil engineering technicians work on-site to help civil engineers in implementing project plans correctly.

Civil engineering technologists and technicians held about 66,300 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of civil engineering technologists and technicians were as follows:

Engineering services 40%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 27
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 19
Construction 3

Civil engineering technologists and technicians work in offices, helping civil engineers plan and design projects. They also visit construction jobsites to collect or test materials or to observe activities as a project inspector. They may work at several sites, using cars or trucks as a mobile office.

Civil engineering technologists and technicians frequently work on teams with civil engineers, surveyors and surveying technicians, construction workers, and others involved with projects.

Work Schedules

Civil engineering technologists and technicians usually work full time. When working at construction sites, their schedules may be subject to factors that affect construction, such as weather. Their schedules also may be tied to those of the construction projects they are involved with.

How to Become a Civil Engineering Technologist or Technician About this section

Civil engineering technicians
Civil engineering technicians prepare reports and document project activities and data.

An associate’s degree, preferably in civil engineering technology, is typically required to enter the occupation.

Education

Prospective civil engineering technologists and technicians should take courses in science and math, such as chemistry, physics, geometry, and trigonometry.

Employers may prefer to hire engineering technologists and technicians who have an associate’s degree from a program accredited by ABET, although a degree is not always required. Engineering technology programs also are available at technical or vocational schools that award a postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Degree and nondegree programs may include coursework in subjects such as engineering, design, and sciences.

Some employers require a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology for civil engineering technologists.

Other Experience

Some civil engineering technologists and technicians enter the occupation after gaining work experience in a related occupation, particularly as drafters or CAD operators. Drafters or CAD operators working for an engineering firm may advance to civil engineering technologist or technician positions as their knowledge of design and construction increases.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is not required to enter this occupation, but it may help technologists and technicians develop in their careers. For example, the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) oversees certification for civil engineering technicians who pass an exam and provide supporting documentation. NICET requires technicians to update their skills and knowledge through a recertification process that encourages continuing professional development.

Advancement

Civil engineering technologists and technicians may advance in their careers by learning to design systems for a variety of projects, such as storm sewers, and to become skilled at reading graphical drawings of proposed projects.

Technicians who obtain appropriate education or certification may advance to become technologists.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. Civil engineering technologists and technicians carry out project plans and designs that engineers have approved. They must be able to understand and interpret the reports and documents describing these projects.

Decision-making skills. Civil engineering technologists and technicians must be able to discern which information is most important and which actions will help keep a project on schedule.

Math skills. Civil engineering technologists and technicians use math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting.

Observational skills. Civil engineering technologists and technicians sometimes visit jobsites to assess a project and report back to the engineer.

Problem-solving skills. As assistants to civil engineers, these technologists and technicians must be able to help engineers identify problems and design projects to solve them.

Writing skills. Civil engineering technologists and technicians must be able to prepare reports that are well organized and clearly convey information.

Pay About this section

Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2021

Drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians

$60,290

Civil engineering technologists and technicians

$58,320

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for civil engineering technologists and technicians was $58,320 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $36,550, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,650.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for civil engineering technologists and technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $61,190
Construction 59,110
Engineering services 59,110
State government, excluding education and hospitals 46,330

Civil engineering technologists and technicians usually work full time. When working at construction sites, their schedules may be subject to factors that affect construction, such as weather. Their schedules also may be tied to those of the construction projects they are involved with.

Job Outlook About this section

Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2021-31

Total, all occupations

5%

Civil engineering technologists and technicians

0%

Drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians

0%

 

Employment of civil engineering technologists and technicians is projected to show little or no change from 2021 to 2031.

Despite limited employment growth, about 6,500 openings for civil engineering technologists and technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

The need to preserve, repair, and upgrade the country’s infrastructure continues to increase. Bridges, roads, levees, airports, and dams will need to be rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced. In addition, more waste treatment plants will be needed to help clean the nation’s waterways, and water systems must be maintained to reduce or eliminate loss of potable water. Civil engineers plan, design, and oversee this work, and civil engineering technologists and technicians will be needed to assist the engineers in these projects.

Civil engineering technologists and technicians also will find work assisting civil engineers with renewable-energy projects. For example, these technologists and technicians may assist in developing a wind farm by helping engineers minimize project costs associated with the sizeable dimensions and weight of wind turbines.

However, employment in this occupation may be limited as improved drafting tools, such as computer-aided design (CAD) software, increase worker productivity.

Employment projections data for civil engineering technologists and technicians, 2021-31
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2021 Projected Employment, 2031 Change, 2021-31 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Civil engineering technologists and technicians

17-3022 66,300 66,100 0 -100 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about summer apprenticeships in civil engineering, visit

Pathways to Science

For more information about accredited programs, visit

ABET

For more information about certification, visit

National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET)

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Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians

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