In the past, civil engineering was a field that involved primarily men and their construction machines. Today, however, women are breaking through the glass ceiling of this traditionally male-dominated industry and impacting their projects.
This change is also a result of the growing focus on infrastructure, resulting in increased demand for civil engineers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be a requirement for 22,100 civil engineers by 2031.
Assessing Your Current Position
The first step in any career path is to assess your current position. This includes reviewing your job description and asking yourself what you like and dislike about your job. It’s important to remember that civil engineering is a broad field. So there are many kinds of civil engineers with different skill sets depending on their focus.
For example, suppose you’re interested in water resources or environmental engineering. In that case, this will be reflected in the types of projects you work on and the skills required for them. If transportation systems are more up your alley, then knowing traffic engineering could be helpful.
Continuous Learning and Education
Continuous learning and education are crucial to success in civil engineering. As a civil engineer, you will constantly be exposed to new ideas and technologies that can help you improve your job performance. Your employer may even provide employee training opportunities through internal programs or third-party vendors.
You can opt to apply for professional certification exams like the PE Exam. This exam covers 27 different disciplines. However, one of the best ways to get continuous learning is by enrolling in a master’s degree.
Alternatively, you can also go with a specific degree program if you have a certain position in your mind. For example, if you want to become a manager, you can go with a master’s degree in engineering management.
According to Kettering University, a master’s degree in engineering management can have an impact on your career right away. Such programs can teach you leadership skills to become a manager. With a management degree, you will also get an opportunity to change your course to some other field. For instance, you can even opt to become an engineering project manager, industrial management engineer, etc.
Continuing education is crucial because it enriches your knowledge and skills. If you don’t have the time, you can always opt for an online master’s degree in engineering management. Research to select the one that fits your needs. For instance, you should consider the class timings before enrolling in an engineering master’s program.
Likewise, you must also consider the fees, syllabus, duration, etc. Considering all these factors will give you better information to make the right decision.
You can also expand your knowledge base as a civil engineer by learning new software and techniques. The following are some of the most recent technologies that you can add to your toolkit:
- 3D modeling (AutoCAD/Revit)
- Building Information Modeling (BIM)
- Civil engineering software like Navisworks
Building a Strong Professional Network
“Networking,” or building relationships with people you don’t know, can be a powerful tool for advancing your career. The more connections you have, the more opportunities will come your way. And even if those opportunities don’t lead directly to new jobs, they might help you figure out how to get one.
There are countless ways to network effectively. Some of these ways are the following:
- Attending industry events and conferences
- Joining professional organizations
- Reaching out via social media platforms like LinkedIn
- Volunteering at local charities or community organizations that relate to what you do in civil engineering
Mastering Project Management Skills
Project management is a crucial skill for civil engineers. It’s the ability to organize and direct a project from start to finish, ensuring that your team meets deadlines and gets the job done right.
Project management skills include:
- Time management: Time management means you should know how long it will take to complete each step in your project. Besides, you must also know when you should ask for help if something goes wrong. Without time management skills, projects can go over budget. According to an article published in the ResearchGate Journal, time delays and cost overruns in civil engineering are not good. That’s because they can lead to project failures.
- Communication: Being able to convey information about your goals and objectives so that others know what they’re working toward.
- Negotiation: Being able to negotiate with clients or other stakeholders if there are issues or disagreements.
Embracing Technological Advancements
One of the best ways to prepare for your future career is by embracing technological advancements. As someone who works with technology, you can use new tools and techniques to make your work easier, more exciting, and more rewarding.
Technology changes rapidly, and keeping up with the latest trends is essential so they don’t pass you by. For example:
- New technologies are being developed all the time. If one of these catches on quickly among other civil engineers or contractors, it could be worth learning how they use them. That can help you prepare when someone asks about them at an interview or meeting later on down the line.
- You might also find some tools helpful in solving problems related to civil engineering projects such as bridges or dams. Understanding how these tools work can help ensure accuracy when upgrading these infrastructures. For instance, Statista shows that there are 91,000 dams across the country, and they may require some maintenance over the years. This can mean more business for you.
Seeking Challenging Assignments and Responsibilities
Challenging assignments and responsibilities are key to advancing your career. As a new graduate, you may find yourself working on projects that are relatively small in scale and scope. This can be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the field and gain experience. However, it’s essential that you also look for opportunities where you can take on more challenging tasks.
If a project manager offers such an opportunity, ask whether there’s anything specific he or she would like from you. Doing so will ensure you can complete the project without significant hassles. It’s also worth noting here that sometimes there will be constraints preventing certain types of work from being done. If this happens, just politely decline until you are sure of taking these projects on.
Effective Communication and Collaboration
Communication and collaboration are essential skills for any engineer to have. They are critical factors in developing relationships that help you advance your career, so getting them right is vital.
Here are some tips for effective communication:
- Be clear about what you’re saying. Don’t assume that people will understand your intentions or take them as literally as you intended. So explain to them if they don’t know all the details of a situation or the context behind what you are saying.
- Be mindful of tone when speaking with others. It can be easy to come across as rude or condescending if you don’t pay attention. Try asking yourself how someone might perceive what was said before making assumptions based on their reaction alone. This will help ensure no misunderstanding between parties later when emotions become involved again.
We hope this article has inspired you to think about how you can advance your career in civil engineering. Remember, there are many paths to success, so don’t be afraid to try something new. It may take some time and effort. But if it means making progress toward your goals, we encourage you to do so.