Have you ever wondered why on earth there’s a four-way stop at the end of your road instead of a stoplight? Or why your local airport runways are the way they are? Track down your local Civil Engineer and you’ll get some answers. Civil Engineers are the ones responsible for the infrastructure around you – the roads and highways, sewer lines, airport runways, etc. Civil Engineering majors can usually find work after a bachelors’ degree, but those interested in jumping up the ladder a bit faster or teaching will need a masters’ or even doctorate degree.
Civil Engineering majors are problem solvers. They probably skipped their adolescence because they were online building cities or amusements parks on one of those simulation games.
Civil Engineering majors can see things more than one way. Unlike many individuals who stick with the first solution to a problem they think of, Civil Engineering majors come up with several and weigh them all carefully to determine the best. Civil Engineering majors are also good team players, able to piggyback off other’s ideas. (Which is different from stealing over people’s ideas and pawning them off as your own – that’s not a skill so much as a reason you’ll be hunted down and given wedgies by your coworkers.)
If you have never been able to put together a train set without the track derailing right before the bridge, sending the model train and its imaginary passengers careening off the cliff, maybe you should look into another career. Perhaps set design for disaster movies.
In addition to the basic engineering stuff – math, physics, thermodynamics – you’ll learn things specific to your field, like bridge building, construction safety, earthquake engineering. You’ll also take some environmental law classes and learn about building codes and federal regulations on, well, everything these days.
Civil Engineering majors have a broad outlook for careers. Most work at a local level, hired by a city or county to oversee development of roads or sewage treatment plants or something. Going with the name of the field, the jobs are normally civil-minded – overseeing or improving some sort of community service like roadways and waterways.
If your high school doesn’t offer advanced math and science classes, look into taking some from your local community college, or even online. There are even programs where you can get a head start on your college classes while still in high school.
Prove you’re a team player by joining a team or club. Most colleges have some sort of engineering organization you can get involved with. It will help you network with other students (important when it’s time to form study groups) and it will give you out of class face time with professors.