Civil Engineering Technicians

Summary

civil engineering technicians image
Civil engineering technicians help with residential development, and work under civil engineers.
Quick Facts: Civil Engineering Technicians
2015 Median Pay $49,260 per year
$23.68 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Associate's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 74,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 3,500

What Civil Engineering Technicians Do

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers to 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.

Work Environment

Civil engineering technicians work in offices, where they help civil engineers plan and design projects. Civil engineering technicians sometimes visit the jobsite where a construction project is taking place, to collect or test materials or observe the project.

How to Become a Civil Engineering Technician

Although not always required, an associate’s degree in civil engineering technology is preferred for employment as a civil engineering technician.

Pay

The median annual wage for civil engineering technicians was $49,260 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of civil engineering technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The need to preserve, repair, upgrade, and enhance an aging infrastructure will sustain demand for these workers.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for civil engineering technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of civil engineering technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about civil engineering technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Civil Engineering Technicians Do About this section

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

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers to plan, design, and build the 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 technicians typically do the following:

  • Read and review project drawings and plans to determine the sizes of structures
  • Confer with engineers about preparing plans
  • Use computer aided design software under the charge of engineers
  • Evaluate pre-construction field conditions
  • Observe project sites and evaluate contractors’ work to detect problems with a design
  • Test construction materials and soil samples in laboratories
  • Help to ensure that project construction conforms to design specifications and applicable codes
  • Develop plans and estimate costs for constructing systems and operating facilities
  • Prepare reports and document project activities and data
  • Collect data and prepare analyses
  • Set up and help maintain project files and records

Civil engineering technicians typically work under the charge of licensed civil engineers. These technicians generally help civil engineers, performing some of the same tasks as the engineers. However, because they are not licensed, civil engineering technicians cannot approve designs or supervise the overall project.

Civil engineering technicians assume varied duties on the job. They sometimes estimate construction costs and develop specifications. Other times, they prepare drawings or survey land. They also may set up and monitor various instruments for traffic studies. These technicians’ duties often require familiarity with and use of various computer programs to design projects, collect and analyze data, prepare correspondence and reports, and manage file systems.

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 technicians held about 74,000 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most civil engineering technicians were as follows:

Engineering services 40%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 28
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 18
Construction 4

Civil engineering technicians work in offices, where they help civil engineers plan and design projects. Civil engineering technicians sometimes visit the jobsite where a construction project is taking place, to collect or test materials or observe the project.

When civil engineering technicians visit the jobsite where a construction project is taking place, they may test materials, assist in surveying, or perform field observations in order to help ensure that the designs approved by licensed civil engineers are being built correctly and in a timely manner. Civil engineering technicians also may work at several sites, using cars or trucks as a mobile office.

Work Schedules

When civil engineering technicians work at construction sites, their schedules may be subject to factors that affect construction, such as bad weather. In addition, their schedules vary with the length and completion of construction projects. Those who work mostly in laboratories to test construction materials have more stable work schedules, but are still subject to schedule variations related to construction.

How to Become a Civil Engineering Technician About this section

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

Although not always required, an associate’s degree in civil engineering technology is preferred for employment as a civil engineering technician.

Education

To prepare for programs in engineering technology after high school, prospective civil engineering technicians should take science and math courses, such as chemistry, geometry, and calculus. They should also have basic knowledge of the use of computers.

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

Courses at technical or vocational schools may include engineering, design, and computer software. To complete an associate’s degree in, students also usually need to take other courses in liberal arts and the sciences.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. As assistants to civil engineers, civil engineering technicians must be able to help the engineers identify and solve problems to develop infrastructure plans and to help agencies avoid wasting time, effort, and funds.

Decisionmaking skills. Pressures from deadlines mean that technicians must be able to quickly discern which types of information are most important for the work at hand, and which plan of action will help keep the project on schedule.

Math skills. Civil engineering technicians use math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Observational skills. Civil engineering technicians sometimes have to go to jobsites and assess a project for the engineer. Therefore, they must know what to look for and how best to report back to the engineer who is overseeing the project.

Problem-solving skills. Like civil engineers, civil engineering technicians help design projects to solve a particular problem. Technicians must be able to understand and work with all the related systems involved in building a project.

Reading skills. Civil engineering technicians carry out plans and designs for projects that a civil engineer has approved. Thus, they must be able to understand all the reports, plans, and documents describing these designs.

Writing skills. Civil engineering technicians often are asked to relay their findings in writing. They must be able to write reports that are well organized and clearly written.

Other Experience

Although an associate’s degree is preferred by most employers, prospective civil engineering technicians may enter the occupation after gaining work experience in a related occupation, particularly as a drafter or CAD operator. A worker who begins as a drafter or CAD operator for an engineering firm may advance to a civil engineering technician position as his or her knowledge of design and construction improves.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is not needed to enter this occupation, but it can help technicians advance their careers. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) is one of the primary organizations overseeing certification for civil engineering technicians.

Certification as a technician requires passing an exam and providing documentation, including a work history, recommendations, and, for most programs, supervisor confirmation of specific experience. NICET requires technicians to update their skills and knowledge through a recertification process that encourages continuing professional development.

Advancement

Civil engineering technicians can advance in their careers by learning to design systems for a variety of projects, such as storm sewers and sanitary systems. It is also useful for civil engineering technicians to become skilled at reading plans and profiles—the graphical depiction of proposed projects.

Civil engineering technicians can also benefit with increasing knowledge of computer systems and application, in particular familiarity with word processing and spreadsheet programs, as well as geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS).

Pay About this section

Civil Engineering Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2015

Drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians

$54,140

Civil engineering technicians

$49,260

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for civil engineering technicians was $49,260 in May 2015. 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 $31,400, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $75,550.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for civil engineering technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals $56,600
Construction 54,620
Engineering services 48,490
State government, excluding education and hospitals 45,140

When civil engineering technicians work at construction sites, their schedules may be subject to factors that affect construction, such as bad weather. In addition, schedules vary with the length and completion of construction projects. Those who work mostly in laboratories to test construction materials have more stable work schedules.

Job Outlook About this section

Civil Engineering Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Civil engineering technicians

5%

Drafters, engineering technicians, and mapping technicians

-1%

 

Employment of civil engineering technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

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

Civil engineering technicians also will find work assisting civil engineers with renewable-energy projects. With regard to wind energy, these engineering technicians may assist in the development of a wind farm to minimize costs while also accommodating the unique dimensions and weight of wind turbines. For installation of solar power, these engineering technicians make sure that civil engineers’ designs for foundations to hold up solar arrays are implemented correctly.

States, however, continue to face financial challenges and may have difficulty funding all the projects that need attention.

Job Prospects

Civil engineering technicians learn to use design software that civil engineers might not learn in their college curriculum. Thus, those civil engineering technicians who master that software, keep their skills current, and stay abreast of new software will improve their chances for employment.

Employment projections data for civil engineering technicians, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Civil engineering technicians

17-3022 74,000 77,600 5 3,500 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of civil engineering technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, build, supervise, operate, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Bachelor's degree $82,220
Drafters

Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Associate's degree $52,720
Surveying and mapping technicians

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface. Surveying technicians visit sites to take measurements of the land. Mapping technicians use geographic data to create maps. They both assist surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,010
Surveyors

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries. They provide data relevant to the shape and contour of the Earth’s surface for engineering, mapmaking, and construction projects.

Bachelor's degree $58,020
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Civil Engineering Technicians,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineering-technicians.htm (visited May 01, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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How to Become One

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Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

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Similar Occupations

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Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.