What Do Civil Engineers Do? | NYU Tandon School of Engineering

What Do Civil Engineers Do?

Learn about the different types of civil engineers and how to become one.

The view of the city skyline

Civil Engineering

The percentage of the global population living in urban areas recently topped 50%, and the United Nations reports that it will exceed two-thirds by 2050. Civil Engineers will lead the development of the smart, resilient, and sustainable cities of the future. At the forefront will be vital infrastructure projects, and lifeline infrastructure systems, including transportation, water and power supply networks. Civil Engineers design earthquake resistant buildings, enable the use of autonomous vehicles, develop innovative processes to provide safe drinking water, promote green and sustainable infrastructure, and employ virtual and augmented reality to design human-friendly space. If you are passionate about making a difference in the world in which we live, NYU’s Civil and Urban Engineering programs might be the course of study for you.

Some of the most common areas of Civil Engineering are: 

  • Transportation Engineering 
  • Structural Engineering 
  • Environmental Engineering 
  • Geotechnical Engineering 
  • Construction Engineering and Management
  • Urban Informatics 
© 2019 ICE Institute of Civil Engineers

How do I become a Civil Engineer (for K-12 Students)

In high school, it is important to focus on subjects like math, science, and humanities. You will also need to enroll in an ABET Accredited Bachelors of Civil Engineering program. Most students complete the program in 4 years and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam upon graduation.  After acquiring four years of professional experience, engineers can sit for the Professional Engineering (PE) Exam, and become licensed. In the US, like most professions, the professional practice of engineering is state-regulated. Each state has somewhat different licensure rules, in terms of experience and education, but all require the FE and PE exams. Most states require that engineers participate in 12 hours of continuing education activities, annually, with some states requiring one or two hours of ethics training annually.

The purpose of engineering licensure is to protect and enhance the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Some engineers are licensed in many states, others are not licensed at all; although the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) "endorses, supports and promotes the professional licensure of engineers with appropriate standards for education, experience, examination, continuing professional development, and professional conduct".   

Many Civil Engineers seek further specialization by obtaining a Masters degree focused on one of the subspecialties of civil engineering. Those who want to advance even more should go for a Doctorate Degree.

Some Examples of Civil Engineering Jobs

  • Structural engineer
  • Project manager
  • Consulting civil engineer
  • Geotechnical engineer
  • Environmental consultant
  • Design engineer
  • Site engineer
  • Water quality engineer
  • Building services engineer
  • Engineering geologist
  • Quantity surveyor
  • Sustainability consultant

B.S. Civil Engineering Coursework at NYU

Coursework in our ABET-accredited B.S. in Civil Engineering program consists of 129 credits in the following areas (Courses are typically 3 or 4 credit each):

  • 39 credits of required civil engineering
  • 9 credits of civil engineering electives
  • 8 credits of general engineering and comp. sci. 
  • 18 credits of science
  • 24 credits of humanities and social sciences
  • 16 credits of math
  • 12 credits of free electives

The BS/MS Program is an excellent opportunity for incoming freshmen with superior admissions qualifications. Our program leads you to the simultaneous earning of a bachelor’s and master’s degree within a five year period.

As a Civil Engineering student at NYU Tandon, you will benefit from our wealth of strong industry relationships with leading civil engineering and construction companies in the NYC metropolitan area. These affiliations will provide you with the opportunity to participate in highly sought after internships at leading companies and organizations, making you a stronger candidate in your chosen field.

Our Favorite Videos

Environmental Engineering

The following video from the New York Times Living City Video captures the essence of environmental engineering. Environmental engineers play an important role in designing and building infrastructure projects that protect public health and natural ecosystems. In this video, you see how clean drinking water is delivered to millions of New Yorkers. Clean water and safe disposal of wastewater has saved more lives than any other human endeavor.

© 2019 The New York Times Company
Structural Engineering

The following video from the New York Times Living City Video captures the essence of structural engineering. Structural engineering is one of the oldest recognized specializations within the civil engineering profession. Buildings, bridges, dams, and tunnels are only a few examples of structures upon which our infrastructure is dependent. Structural engineers must have a strong understanding and be capable of both analyzing and designing structural elements and systems. 

© 2019 The New York Times Company
Construction Engineering

The following video from the New York Times Living City Video captures the essence of construction engineering. Construction engineering is responsible for the project's scheduling and timeline, labor and material costs, quality, safety, scope, and other functions. In other words, construction engineers are responsible for planning, coordinating and building of a project from beginning to completion. 

© 2019 The New York Times Company
Infrastructure Engineering

The following video from the New York Times Living City Video captures the essence of infrastructure engineering. It focused on the acquisition, integration, and analysis of diverse, large-scale data to understand and improve urban systems and quality of life in cities. The goal of infrastructure engineers is to make cities around the world more sustainable, livable, equitable, and resilient.

© 2019 The New York Times Company