Have you ever wondered who is responsible for building our roads, bridges, highways, and other infrastructure? It all traces back to a discipline known as civil engineering. Those who work in this sphere plan, design, and build different kinds of infrastructure projects.
If you’re interested in learning more about this field, then check out our guide. We’re looking into how to become a civil engineering technician, the education it requires, the salary it provides, and opportunities for career growth.
Civil engineering technicians are “hands-on” members of the engineering team who work under engineers, scientists, and technologists. They should demonstrate knowledge of the components, operating characteristics, and limitations of engineering systems and processes particular to their area of specialization.
Civil engineering technicians typically spend their days speaking with their supervisors about plan preparations and evaluating field conditions. Additional job duties include:
- Develop plans and estimate costs
- Request quotes for constructing systems and operating facilities
- Evaluate contractors’ work to detect problems with a design
- Test construction materials
- Read and review project drawings
- Make sure project construction conforms to design specifications and applicable codes
- Calculate dimensions component specifications, and material quantities
- Inspect project sites
- Review blueprints
- Maintain project files and records
- Monitor instruments for traffic studies
- Utilize various computer programs to design projects, collect and analyze data, prepare reports, and manage file system
- Visit job sites where construction projects are taking place
- Prepare reports and document project progress
Civil engineering technicians work regular schedules, with a standard 40-hour workweek. They aren’t, however, confined to the office that entire time. According to a recent poll, 22 percent of civil engineering technicians said they worked outside at least once a week. 38 percent reported they spend time outdoors every day.
How to Become a Civil Engineering Technician
Though employers typically look for individuals who have graduated from a program accredited by the Board for Engineering and Technology, an associate’s degree in civil engineering is not always necessary for breaking into the field.
After graduating high school, prospective civil engineering technicians can enroll in courses offered at a technical or vocational school. Many institutions offer classes in engineering, design, computer software, and other areas that relate to the career.
These programs often take less time to complete than those offered at four-year schools.
No matter what kind of program they decide to pursue, all aspiring civil engineering technicians should take science and math courses, as these disciplines are necessary to analyze, design, and troubleshoot their work.
Reading and writing skills are also crucial to civil engineering technicians. They must be able to understand all reports, plans, and documents and communicate their findings to other members of their team.
Bachelor’s degree programs are also available. This is a good option for those who want to eventually become civil engineers, as it is the minimum required needed to do so. It’s also a good option for anyone looking to earn a graduate degree in engineering or construction.
Courses typically revolve around surveying, urban planning, structural analysis, site development, and highway engineering. These programs take around two years to complete, though institutions may offer expedited schedules.
Related occupations can provide valuable experiences that apply to the field of civil engineering. Engineering firms often hire drafters and CAD operators to complete specifications. With enough knowledge about design and construction, these individuals may advance to a civil engineering technician.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Certifications are not required in this field, but technicians may sign up for certification programs to demonstrate a commitment to growth and further stand out from the competition.
The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) remains a global leader in the field, overseeing civil engineering technicians’ certification. More than 148,000 technicians and technologists have received certificates from the organization since it was founded back in 1961.
The NICET provides certifications for civil engineering technicians in the following areas:
- Asphalt / Concrete / Soils
- Highway Construction Inspection
- In-Building Public Safety Communications
- Electrical Power Testing
- Fire Alarm Systems
- Inspection and Testing of Fire Alarm Systems
- Inspection and Testing of Water-Based Systems
- Special Hazards Systems
- Water-Based Systems Layout
- Video Security Systems Designer / Video Security Systems Technician
Civil Engineering Technology vs. Civil Engineering
Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers to plan, design, and build roads, bridges, highways as well as commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects.
Engineers typically plan and direct the work completed by technicians. They may also be responsible for examining reports and maps, explaining findings to the public, and visiting job sites to ensure projects are completed on-time and without issue.
They must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, whereas civil engineering technicians require just an associate degree to begin work in the field
As populations increase and unpredictable weather patterns continue to occur, the need to rebuild, maintain and enhance existing infrastructure will grow. This provides an enormous opportunity for civil engineering technicians.
The rise of green technologies and renewable energy also introduces new opportunities for individuals in the field.
Many technicians will eventually go back to school for a bachelor’s degree program in civil engineering technology.
This will provide them the experience and education needed to pursue work as a civil engineer. This is a fairly common career path for civil engineering technicians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineering technicians earn a median annual salary of $53,410 per year or $25.68 per hour, with the highest 10 percent earning more than $80,650.
The top-paying industries for civil engineering technicians are as follows:
- Local government, excluding education and hospitals
- Engineering Services
- State government, excluding education and hospitals
How many years does it take to become a civil engineering technician?
Most employers look to hire civil engineering technicians who hold an associate degree in the subject. These programs typically take two years to complete.
Is civil engineering technician a good career?
The field of engineering technology will experience job growth of about 3 percent between 2019 and 2029.
The need to preserve, repair, upgrade and enhance an aging infrastructure will keep demand for these workers high, meaning civil engineering technicians can enjoy a steady level of job security in the coming years.
What skills are required for a civil engineering technician?
Things like problem-solving, critical thinking, math, reading, and writing should all come naturally to prospective civil engineering technicians. Observational and decision-making abilities are also important qualities to possess.
Is civil engineering technology a good degree?
The degree prepares graduates for a number of positions, including civil engineering technician, drafter, and land surveyor.
Kick-off your career in civil engineering technology today!
The New England Institute of Technology offers both associate and bachelor degree programs in the subject. Graduates will be qualified for careers with civil engineering firms, survey companies, materials testing companies, or construction companies.