An associate degree in civil engineering technology equips you to enter the oldest and largest engineering subdiscipline. Civil engineers literally lay the foundation for our built environment, designing the roads, bridges and structures we use everyday.
Earning associate degrees in civil engineering
Associate degrees in civil engineering technology, available online or on campus, typically cover basic science, math and applied engineering topics. Science and math courses focus on calculus, physics, fluid mechanics and hydraulics, and materials. Applied civil engineering courses include land surveying, engineering graphics and CAD, structural analysis, hydrology and land development, concrete design, and steel design. In addition, core coursework is often required in liberal arts and communication.
Associate degrees in civil engineering may lead to a technician position or to further education such as a Bachelor of Science degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that a bachelor's degree in the field is needed for most entry-level engineering jobs. After you gain experience working in the industry, you can apply for licensure as a Professional Engineer, or PE.
Civil engineering career options, outlook and salary
With an associate degree, you could begin working as a civil engineering technician, assisting engineers in research and development. Engineering technicians undertake support tasks such as land surveying, CAD drafting and cost estimation.
Civil engineering technicians should see 12 percent job growth in the 2010-2020 period, according to the BLS, and this is a higher rate than the 4.7 percent increase projected for engineering techs in general. The BLS notes that population growth is one of the drivers fueling demand. For civil engineering technicians, median earnings reached $46,290 in 2010.
If you continue your studies, you could become a civil engineer, taking a lead role in the design and development of infrastructure. The BLS forecasts 3.8 percent job growth in the 2010-2020 decade for civil engineers. These professionals earned a median wage of $77,560 in 2010, with licensed PEs earning a premium salary. The top 25 percent earned salaries near six figures, with the top median wage of $133,830 for work relating to commercial and industrial machinery and equipment.
Online degrees in civil engineering allow you to build your education in stages; you can start as a technician with an associate degree in civil engineering technology while you gain the experience and qualifications needed for engineer status.