Jumpstart Your Civil Engineering Career with a Masters Degree

Civil engineering is an exciting field that focuses on designing, building, and maintaining infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, dams, buildings, and utilities. As a civil engineer, you get to plan and manage large-scale projects that improve people’s lives It’s a rewarding career where you can see the tangible impacts of your work.

A masters degree in civil engineering can give your career a powerful boost. Let’s look at why you should consider a masters, what jobs you can get, expected salaries, and top schools to earn your masters in civil engineering.

Why Get a Masters in Civil Engineering?

There are several compelling reasons to get a masters degree in civil engineering

  • Stand out in the job market: A masters degree helps you stand out from the crowd of bachelor’s degree holders when applying for jobs. Employers often prefer candidates with advanced technical skills and training.

  • Gain specialized expertise: Master’s programs allow you to gain deeper knowledge in a specific subfield like structural, geotechnical, environmental, transportation, or water resources engineering. This sets you apart as an expert.

  • Enhanced engineering skills A masters program focuses on advanced engineering analysis methods modeling techniques and design skills. This advanced technical training prepares you for complex real-world projects.

  • Higher earning potential: On average, those with a masters in civil engineering earn 20% more than those with just a bachelor’s degree. Over your career that adds up to greater earning power.

  • Advancement opportunities: A masters degree qualifies you for senior engineering and management roles like lead engineer, engineering supervisor, project manager, and principal engineer. It shows you have the expertise to guide major projects and teams.

  • Specialized research: A thesis or research-focused masters allows you to dive deep into a civil engineering research topic. This can open up research and doctoral opportunities.

  • Industry contacts: In a masters program you expand your professional network, meeting classmates, researchers, and professors who can help grow your career down the road.

Clearly a masters in civil engineering offers a suite of benefits for career advancement, higher pay, and engineering expertise. It’s worth the investment if you want to reach the top of the civil engineering field.

Jobs for Masters in Civil Engineering Grads

What types of jobs can you get after earning a masters in civil engineering? A masters degree qualifies you for both higher level technical engineering roles and engineering management positions.

Here are some top jobs secured by those with a masters in civil engineering:

  • Structural engineer – Designs and oversees construction of building foundations, bridges, retaining walls, and other structural projects. Advanced analysis skills from a masters is valued here.

  • Construction manager – Leads and coordinates construction teams, scheduling, budgets, and safety. A masters boosts your management qualifications.

  • Project engineer – Works under project managers overseeing civil engineering projects like public infrastructure and utilities. Coordinates technical teams.

  • Geotechnical engineer – Assesses geology and soil conditions for construction projects. Conducts soil testing and analysis. Masters training is preferred.

  • Environmental engineer – Designs and implements solutions for environmental issues like pollution, recycling, waste disposal, water quality, and sustainability.

  • Transportation engineer – Plans and designs transportation infrastructure like highways, roads, rail systems, ports, airports, and pipelines. Masters provides advanced design skills.

  • Water resources engineer – Works on water infrastructure and supply systems like pipes, irrigation, dams, canals, wells, and sewer systems. Masters offers specialization.

  • GIS analyst – Uses geographic information systems to inform civil engineering and infrastructure projects. Advanced data analysis skills from a masters is a plus.

  • Civil engineering professor – Teaches civil engineering subjects at universities. A masters and preferably a PhD is required.

As you can see, a masters in civil engineering opens doors across technical design and analysis, project engineering, management, and academia. The specialized skills you develop in your masters program directly relate to the types of advanced roles you can obtain.

Expected Salaries

So how much can you make after earning your masters in civil engineering? Civil engineering salaries are already strong at the bachelor’s degree level. A masters degree allows you to earn even higher pay.

Here are salary ranges you can expect based on position:

  • Civil Engineer: $68,000 – $101,000
  • Construction Manager: $70,000 – $132,000
  • Structural Engineer: $71,000 – $119,000
  • Environmental Engineer: $60,000 – $105,000
  • Geotechnical Engineer: $60,000 – $117,000
  • Transportation Engineer: $63,000 – $108,000
  • Water Resources Engineer: $63,000 – $114,000
  • Project Engineer: $65,000 – $106,000
  • GIS Analyst: $51,000 – $91,000
  • Civil Engineering Professor: $74,000 – $136,000

As you can see, salaries for those with a masters degree in civil engineering range from around $60,000 up towards $130,000 depending on your specialization and role. The increased salary potential is a major benefit of pursuing an advanced masters degree.

The BLS reports that the median salary for all civil engineers in 2021 was $93,730. However, those with a masters degree earn 20% higher pay on average. So you can expect a median salary approaching $110,000 with a masters in civil engineering.

Top Masters in Civil Engineering Programs

If you want to maximize your career opportunities and earning potential, where should you get your masters degree in civil engineering? Here are some of the top civil engineering masters programs:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • Stanford University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Purdue University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Michigan
  • Virginia Tech

These civil engineering masters programs are offered at elite research universities across the United States. They provide access to world-class faculty, research facilities, diverse course options, and peers at the top of the civil engineering field.

Programs allow you to specialize and take advanced courses in areas like structural and earthquake engineering, construction management, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, transportation systems, and water resources and hydrosystems.

Research and thesis options are also available if you want to gain expertise in a niche area of civil engineering. Graduating from one of these top programs will open doors at the best engineering firms and position you for leadership roles.

Start Your Masters in Civil Engineering Journey

A masters in civil engineering can take your career to new heights. The advanced technical skills, industry contacts, salary potential, and leadership opportunities are well worth the investment.

If you want to design iconic bridges, oversee large-scale construction projects, or manage public infrastructure development, a civil engineering masters degree is the fastest path. Look into top programs, choose an exciting specialty, and take the next step in your civil engineering career success.

masters in civil engineering jobs

Employers hiring civil engineering graduates now

Studying civil engineering provides you with a range of technical skills valued by employers in various sectors, including engineering, construction and property.

With a solid grasp of science, mathematics and technology, you learn to design, create and build structures efficiently, making best use of available resources and techniques.

Through realistic construction-based group projects, you gain practical experience of applying your engineering judgement and working successfully with others.

Transferable skills gained on a civil engineering course include:

  • a creative approach to problem solving
  • critical thinking skills
  • ability to interpret data
  • numeracy and IT skills
  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • the ability to work well in a team
  • analytical and decision-making abilities
  • attention to detail
  • leadership potential
  • an awareness of ethical issues in the construction and engineering sectors.

Most graduates who enter professional training with a civil engineering company continue to study part time while working in order to achieve either chartered (CEng) or incorporated (IEng) engineer status. The routes to professional registration are outlined by the Engineering Council.

Some graduates go on to further study at postgraduate level in order to develop specialist knowledge in a particular area such as water management, earthquake engineering, maritime civil engineering or environmental engineering. Options include a taught Masters, MRes, MPhil or PhD.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search for postgraduate courses in civil engineering and construction.

What do civil engineering graduates do?

Two-thirds (66%) of civil engineering graduates are working as engineering professionals. Other popular jobs include architects, chartered architectural technologists, planning officers, surveyors and construction professionals, science, engineering and production technicians, production managers and directors, CAD, drawing and architectural technicians, and conservation and environment professionals.

Graduate destinations for civil engineering

Destination Percentage
Employed 79.1
Further study 5
Working and studying 7.5
Unemployed 3.7
Other 4.7

Types of work entered in the UK

Type of work Percentage
Engineering 78.1
Business, HR and finance 3.1
Managers 3
Retail, catering and customer service 2.5
Other 13.3

Find out what other civil engineering graduates are doing 15 months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?

Graduate Outcomes survey data from HESA.

Written by AGCAS editors

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