TL;DR Majors: Civil Engineering

By Thomas P.
March 03, 2021 · 2 minute read





Engineering is one of the four parts of STEM, and it combines the other disciplines to be the most real-world and applicable STEM discipline. Civil engineering is one of the oldest sub-disciplines of engineering and involves the construction of buildings, roads, bridges, and other public and private sector projects.

The World of Civil Engineering

The world of civil engineering is vast as it encompasses projects such as designing infrastructure, constructing commercial buildings, or even drafting car models. Civil engineers will often be the leaders of construction projects, manage the construction budget, time, and communicate with contractors.  A civil engineer is distinct from an architect as an architect often does not explicitly give instructions for building structures but instead focuses on how it should look. While an architect might try to envision a building’s layout and aesthetic, the civil engineer will turn a person’s vision into reality.

The most common employers of civil engineers are engineering firms or state and local agencies. A few civil engineers will also have the opportunity to work for the Army Corp of Engineers. The duties of a civil engineer employed by a private firm versus one working for the government are largely similar. However, the day-to-day work might be different. Typically, civil engineers working for the government will work on the same public works projects repeatedly. In contrast, civil engineers that work at an engineering firm will have projects that will be more varied and may be tailored for individual clients.

A civil engineer working for a municipal government might have the job of designing some of the city’s intersections. They might design the intersections in an office and eventually go to a construction site to execute their plans once they are finished. When a civil engineer enters the field, often they will have to make modifications to their initial designs or approve changes requested by construction overseers.

Sub-Disciplines of Civil Engineering

  • Construction engineering - see above example
  • Environmental engineering - engineering involving water treatment, environmental clean-up. 
  • Geotechnical engineering - involves engineering rocks and soil

Schools of Civil Engineering

To become a civil engineer, a person needs only a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Programs typically include courses involving algebra, statistics, trigonometry, and calculus. Courses will typically involve some combination of work in the classroom, lab, and field.

Columbia University - Columbia University has a civil engineering department. The school of civil engineering is one of the oldest schools in the United States.

Here’s a video that can be seen on youtube that provides more detail on Civil Engineering from Crash Course:


Civil engineering is a subdiscipline of engineering that involves building public and private sector projects often involving the construction of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure. 

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