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Civil Engineering Technician Job Description, Career as a Civil Engineering Technician, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Two-year college

Salary: Median—$38,480 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers plan and design roads, bridges, tunnels, airfields, harbors, and water and sewerage systems. Technicians sometimes work in urban renewal and community planning to improve the living conditions of cities or towns. They help plan the construction of new buildings and the destruction of old ones. Civil engineering technicians may work for city governments or large corporations.

The first stage of the technician's job is researching and planning the project. On a highway project, for instance, technicians may set up equipment to monitor traffic, so the engineers will know what kind of development is needed. The technicians help the engineers decide on the types and amounts of materials needed. They often help to estimate the costs of projects. They go to the work site and help the engineers survey the area or lay out the position of the structure's foundation. The technicians also help the engineers in drafting or by making a scale drawing of the object to be built. Much of this work is done with the use of computers.

During the construction of the project, the technicians work with the building contractor or site supervisor. They help schedule the work to be done by the different building trades. They also check the construction to see that it is being done according to the building plans. Technicians make sure that the workers complete each stage of construction before the next stage begins.

Civil engineering technicians must have good eyesight and manual dexterity. They must be able to pay strict attention to detail and work closely with others.

Education and Training Requirements

Most companies that hire civil engineering technicians prefer candidates with a two-year associate's degree in engineering technology. These degrees are available from community colleges, technical institutes, colleges and universities, private vocational-technical schools, and the armed forces. Employers do not usually require that engineering technicians be certified, but certification may offer a competitive advantage.

Individuals who are interested in becoming civil engineering technicians should take a variety of high school science and math classes. In particular, they should be able to use algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and logarithms. Experience with computers is also valuable.

Because the schools that offer two-year degrees have different kinds of programs—some emphasize theory, for instance, while others specialize in practical training—choosing the right curriculum is important. Often, companies that hire civil engineering technicians can offer suggestions about which schools provide the best training for their speciality. Some large companies also offer training programs in which the trainee works during the day and then attends evening classes. Such a program allows the beginner to learn while simultaneously gaining practical experience. The armed services train thousands of technicians each year. However, military programs can be narrowly focused, so individuals who want jobs as civil engineering technicians should make sure that military training will apply to their later careers.

Getting the Job

The placement offices of most two-year colleges offer help in finding jobs. These offices are usually in touch with agencies and businesses that need civil engineering technicians. Another method of entering the field is to apply directly to civil engineering firms or large companies for on-the-job training.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Most civil engineering technicians begin as trainees under experienced technicians or civil engineers. As the trainees gain experience, they are given more responsibility. Some technicians move on to supervisory positions. Those with the ability sometimes get additional education and become civil engineers.

National economic conditions influence employment. When the economy is good, there will be a greater demand for technicians, and when the economy is poor, there will be less demand. The use of computer-aided design and drafting will increase productivity, which will limit employment growth. Despite these factors, the employment outlook for civil engineering technicians is good through the year 2014. Opportunities will be best for those with a two-year degree or extensive job training. In addition to projected growth in the industry, technicians are needed every year to replace those who retire or leave their jobs.

Working Conditions

Technicians work in offices or on construction sites. Their offices are modern, well lighted, and well ventilated. On construction sites, the work is cleaner than the work in most other construction trades. Civil engineering technicians usually work forty hours per week with extra pay for weekends and overtime work.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society for Engineering Education
1818 N. St. NW, Ste. 600
Washington, DC 20036-2479
(202) 331-3500

American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians
P.O. Box 1563
Brandon, MS 39043
(601) 824-8991

American Society of Civil Engineers
1801 Alexander Graham Bell Dr.
Reston, VA 20191
(800) 548-2723

Society of Women Engineers
230 E. Ohio St., Ste. 400
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 596-5223

Earnings and Benefits

The median salary for civil engineering technicians in 2004 was $38,480 per year. Earnings varied according to their training and the location of their employer. Benefits varied, too, but most companies offered paid vacations and holidays, health insurance plans, and sometimes profit sharing.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesConstruction & Skilled Trades