The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Design or oversee projects involving provision of potable water, disposal of wastewater and sewage, or prevention of flood-related damage. Prepare environmental documentation for water resources, regulatory program compliance, data management and analysis, and field work. Perform hydraulic modeling and pipeline design.
Sample of reported job titles:
Consulting Engineer, County Engineer, Engineer, Project Development Engineer
Provide technical direction or supervision to junior engineers, engineering or computer-aided design (CAD) technicians, or other technical personnel.
Review and critique proposals, plans, or designs related to water or wastewater treatment systems.
Design domestic or industrial water or wastewater treatment plants, including advanced facilities with sequencing batch reactors (SBR), membranes, lift stations, headworks, surge overflow basins, ultraviolet disinfection systems, aerobic digesters, sludge lagoons, or control buildings.
Evaluate the operation and maintenance of water or wastewater systems to identify ways to improve their efficiency.
Design or select equipment for use in wastewater processing to ensure compliance with government standards.
Design pumping systems, pumping stations, pipelines, force mains, or sewers for the collection of wastewater.
Design water distribution systems for potable or non-potable water.
Conduct water quality studies to identify and characterize water pollutant sources.
Analyze and recommend chemical, biological, or other wastewater treatment methods to prepare water for industrial or domestic use.
Identify design alternatives for the development of new water resources.
Design water runoff collection networks, water supply channels, or water supply system networks.
Design water or wastewater lift stations, including water wells.
Conduct cost-benefit analyses for the construction of water supply systems, runoff collection networks, water and wastewater treatment plants, or wastewater collection systems.
Provide technical support on water resource or treatment issues to government agencies.
Conduct feasibility studies for the construction of facilities, such as water supply systems, runoff collection networks, water and wastewater treatment plants, or wastewater collection systems.
Analyze storm water or floodplain drainage systems to control erosion, stabilize river banks, repair channel streams, or design bridges.
Oversee the construction of decentralized or on-site wastewater treatment systems, including reclaimed water facilities.
Develop plans for new water resources or water efficiency programs.
Perform hydrological analyses, using three-dimensional simulation software, to model the movement of water or forecast the dispersion of chemical pollutants in the water supply.
Perform hydraulic analyses of water supply systems or water distribution networks to model flow characteristics, test for pressure losses, or to identify opportunities to mitigate risks and improve operational efficiency.
Write technical reports or publications related to water resources development or water use efficiency.
Design water storage tanks or other water storage facilities.
Analyze and recommend sludge treatment or disposal methods.
Design sludge treatment plants.
Gather and analyze water use data to forecast water demand.
Conduct environmental impact studies related to water and wastewater collection, treatment, or distribution.
Analyze the efficiency of water delivery structures, such as dams, tainter gates, canals, pipes, penstocks, or cofferdams.
Perform mathematical modeling of underground or surface water resources, such as floodplains, ocean coastlines, streams, rivers, or wetlands.
Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
Communicating with People Outside the Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
Detailed Work Activities
Recommend technical design or process changes to improve efficiency, quality, or performance.
Provide technical guidance to other personnel.
Supervise engineering or other technical personnel.
Evaluate designs or specifications to ensure quality.
Design civil structures or systems.
Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
Identify opportunities to improve operational efficiency.
Design industrial processing systems.
Investigate the environmental impact of projects.
Select tools, equipment, or technologies for use in operations or projects.
Develop technical methods or processes.
Analyze costs and benefits of proposed designs or projects.
Advise others regarding green practices or environmental concerns.
Research advanced engineering designs or applications.
Analyze physical, survey, or geographic data.
Direct environmental development activities.
Analyze operational data to evaluate operations, processes or products.
Create models of engineering designs or methods.
Prepare detailed work plans.
Prepare technical or operational reports.
Design structures or facilities.
Electronic Mail — 96% responded “Every day.”
Telephone — 78% responded “Every day.”
Face-to-Face Discussions — 68% responded “Every day.”
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 65% responded “Every day.”
Work With Work Group or Team — 48% responded “Extremely important.”
Duration of Typical Work Week — 65% responded “More than 40 hours.”
Contact With Others — 43% responded “Constant contact with others.”
Spend Time Sitting — 65% responded “More than half the time.”
Letters and Memos — 57% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
Freedom to Make Decisions — 48% responded “Some freedom.”
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 36% responded “Very important.”
Structured versus Unstructured Work — 61% responded “Some freedom.”
Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 35% responded “Important results.”
Time Pressure — 43% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
Level of Competition — 48% responded “Moderately competitive.”
Coordinate or Lead Others — 39% responded “Very important.”
Deal With External Customers — 52% responded “Important.”
Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 39% responded “High responsibility.”
Frequency of Decision Making — 26% responded “Every day.”
Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 35% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 30% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed
- Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.
- Related Experience
- A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.
- Job Training
- Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.
- Job Zone Examples
- Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.
- SVP Range
- 2-4 years of preparation (7.0 to < 8.0)
Training & Credentials
- State training
- Local training
- State licenses
- Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov
to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.
Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Building and Construction — Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.
Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Economics and Accounting — Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking, and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:
Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Civil Engineers.
Employment data for Civil Engineers.
Industry data for Civil Engineers.
- Median wages (2021)
- $42.33 hourly, $88,050 annual
- State wages
- Local wages
- Employment (2020)
- 309,800 employees
- Projected growth (2020-2030)
Average (5% to 10%)
- Projected job openings (2020-2030)
- State trends
- Top industries (2020)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data
and 2020-2030 employment projections
“Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
- State job openings
- Local job openings