Civil Engineering Technician
A civil engineering technician could...
|Help select a building material (wood, steel, stone, reinforced concrete, alloys, or plastics) for constructing a new bridge.||Monitor traffic flow at major intersections to see if improvements need to be made.|
|Stake out where a concrete or earthen structure will be placed near a waterway to control flooding.||Plan the construction of new buildings and the destruction of old ones.|
Key Facts & Information
|Overview||Do you dream of building big? Civil engineering technicians help build some of the largest structures in the world—from buildings, bridges, and dams to highways, airfields, and wastewater treatment facilities. Many of these construction projects are "public works," meaning they strengthen and benefit a community, state, or the nation.|
|Key Requirements||Detail-oriented, analytical, with good vision, manual dexterity, and the ability to work in teams|
|Minimum Degree||Vocational or Associate's degree|
|Subjects to Study in High School||Chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus (trigonometry), English; if available, applied technology, computer science|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%)|
|Interview||In these interview videos, you'll meet civil engineering technicians Jacquelyn and Andy and Dale and Laura, and hear them describe the type of work they do in their day-to-day jobs.|
Education and Training
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.
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 specialty. 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.
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.
Nature of the Work
Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers plan and oversee the building of roads, highways, buildings, airfields, harbors, bridges, dams, wastewater treatment systems, and other structures and do related research. Some estimate construction costs and specify materials to be used, and some may even prepare drawings or perform land-surveying duties. Others may set up and monitor instruments used to study traffic conditions.
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.
Technicians work in offices or on construction sites. Their offices are modern, well-lit, and well-ventilated. On construction sites, the work is cleaner than the work in most other construction trades. Civil engineering technicians usually work 40 hours per week, with extra pay for weekends and overtime work.
On the Job
- Calculate dimensions, square footage, profile and component specifications, and material quantities using calculator or computer.
- Draft detailed dimensional drawings and design layouts for projects and to ensure conformance to specifications.
- Analyze proposed site factors and design maps, graphs, tracings, and diagrams to illustrate findings.
- Read and review project blueprints and structural specifications to determine dimensions of structure or system and material requirements.
- Prepare reports and document project activities and data.
- Confer with supervisor to determine project details such as plan preparation, acceptance testing, and evaluation of field conditions.
- Inspect project site and evaluate contractor work to detect design malfunctions and ensure conformance to design specifications and applicable codes.
- Plan and conduct field surveys to locate new sites and analyze details of project sites.
- Develop plans and estimate costs for installation of systems, utilization of facilities, or construction of structures.
- Report maintenance problems occurring at project site to supervisor and negotiate changes to resolve system conflicts.
- Conduct materials test and analysis using tools and equipment and applying engineering knowledge.
- Respond to public suggestions and complaints.
- Evaluate facility to determine suitability for occupancy and square footage availability.
Companies That Hire Civil Engineering Technicians
Explore what you might do on the job with one of these projects...
- Aerodynamics and Bridge Design
- Avoiding Disaster: The Right Bridge Design
- Bridges That Can Take a Shake!
- Building Structures: It's a Slippery Slope
- Building the Tallest Tower
- Can a Toilet Paper Tube Support Your Weight?
- Fallen Arches: The Surprising Strength of Eggshells
- Gigantic, Invisible Triangles: Measuring Height (or Altitude) with an Inclinometer
- He Huffed, and He Puffed, But Didn't Blow the House Down! How Can Straw Make a Sturdy Building?
- Materials for Sound Barriers
- Newspaper Tower
- Paper Bridge for Pennies
- Set Your Table for a Sweet and Sticky Earthquake Shake
- Shapes with Straws
- Solving a 'Windy' Problem
- Stressed Out? Take a Break with this Project!
- Taming the Tsunami: Investigating Different Structures to Reduce Tsunami Damage
- The Design Process: Creating a Stronger Truss
- The Effect of Bridge Design on Weight Bearing Capacity
- What is the Maximum Intermediate Height for a Siphon?
Do you have a specific question about a career as a Civil Engineering Technician that isn't answered on this page? Post your question on the Science Buddies Ask an Expert Forum.
- American Society for Engineering Education: https://www.asee.org/
- American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians: www.ascet.org
- American Society of Civil Engineers: www.asce.org
- Society of Women Engineers: www.swe.org
- O*Net Online. (2016). National Center for O*Net Development. Retrieved July 1, 2017, from https://www.onetonline.org/
- Net Industries. (2009). 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. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from http://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/288/Civil-Engineering-Technician.html
- cvtc.edu. (2007, June 18). Engineering Technicians Job Description. Retrieved January 19, 2010, from http://www.cvtc.edu/videos/asx/programs/civilengineering.asx
- witechcolleges.org. (2007, December 17). Civil Engineering Technician - Structural. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rZYdrMfLXk
- witechcolleges.org. (2007, November 8). Civil Engineering Technician - Structural. Retrieved November 18, 2009, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LWi4rinjqE
- Just the Job. (2012, September 12). Civil Engineering Technician. Dave Mason Productions. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtVxO18jLnc
We'd like to acknowledge the additional support of:
Explore Our Science Videos
Make A Tissue Paper Parachute - STEM Activity
Make Your Own Lava Lamp
10 Robotics Projects Kids Can Really Make!