In 2010, 3,180 civil engineers were employed in Oregon, with approximately half working in Multnomah and Washington counties. Hourly wages for civil engineers in 2011 varied from $24.48 for entry-level positions to $51.11 for experienced workers at the higher end of the pay scale. Statewide, the median hourly wage was $35.56 with an average (mean) annual wage of $76,079, making civil engineers a high-wage occupation. For all occupations in Oregon, the median hourly wage was $16.90 and the average (mean) annual wage was $44,290.
Karen Odenthal, a transportation engineer with Marion County Public Works, states that "we try to reduce congestion, so there are reduced greenhouse gases." Karen also works to design transportation projects that promote alternative means of transportation, such as bicycling, and projects that incorporate drainage systems that are environmentally friendly.
Though aspects of the job have likely always been "green," more attention has been given to environmental issues in recent years. The American Society of Civil Engineers has identified sustainability as a key issue in which "it is incumbent on civil engineers to lead the next shift in sustainable planning, design and construction."
Though certain skills and methods of the occupation have not changed over the years, new technologies have changed the way civil engineers perform their duties. Thomas Miller, Associate Professor at the School of Civil and Construction Engineering at Oregon State University, states that computer programs are now used to create three-dimensional models that show how parts of a design are integrated. Engineers also utilize the latest structural analysis and design software as well as modern equipment for surveying.
Finally, civil engineers must be able to work in teams and communicate effectively. Dr. Miller said the occupation has changed over the years to include "more public involvement in large projects." Thus civil engineers need to be able to work with and explain projects and designs to public officials, community leaders, and citizens.
To obtain the necessary skills to be a civil engineer, workers must have a bachelor's degree. However, those with a master's degree have a competitive advantage in this labor market. In Oregon, four schools offer bachelor degrees in civil engineering: Oregon State University, Portland State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, and University of Portland. Two of these schools, Oregon State University and Portland State University, offer post-graduate degrees. Several community colleges also offer associate degrees related to civil engineering. Students often supplement their degrees with summer internships and jobs with civil engineering design firms or public agencies to gain experience in the field.
Civil engineers must also be registered as professional engineers, which they achieve by passing an exam administered by the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying (visit oregon.gov/OSBEELS/registration.shtml for more information).
|Select Skills for Civil Engineers|
|Analyze engineering design problems|
|Apply mathematical principles to identify, analyze, and solve problems|
|Apply structural and safety principles to buildings and other construction projects|
|Calculate stress, load, or capacity of structures and materials|
|Design and lay out construction projects|
|Estimate costs and time needed for engineering projects|
|Interpret maps for architecture, construction, and civil engineering|
|Plan and design public works projects|
|Provide consulting services|
|Read blueprints and technical drawings|
|Research and apply land use regulations|
|Use land and site surveying instruments and techniques|
|Visualize spatial relationships in construction and mapping|
|Regional Employment Projections and Average Wages|
|Total Projected Annual Openings||2011 Average Annual Pay|
|Region||Employment 2010||Employment 2020||Percent Change|
|Multnomah / Washington||1,639||1,963||19.80%||69||$78,183|
|Marion / Polk / Yamhill||393||439||11.70%||13||$76,164|
|Benton / Lincoln / Linn||137||159||16.10%||5||$71,004|
|Crook / Deschutes / Jefferson||124||140||12.90%||4||$72,620|
|Jackson / Josephine||93||101||8.60%||3||$62,007|
|Gilliam / Hood River / Sherman / Wheeler / Wasco||52||66||26.90%||3||$65,163|
|Coos / Curry||43||46||7.00%||1||$87,157|
|Klamath / Lake||43||47||9.30%||1||$73,771|
|Baker / Union / Wallowa||43||46||7.00%||1||$68,064|
|Clatsop / Columbia / Tillamook||36||42||16.70%||2||$75,789|
|Morrow / Umatilla||17||19||11.80%||0||$74,774|
|Grant / Harney / Malheur||16||16||0.00%||0||$67,164|
Civil engineering is a challenging but rewarding occupation. Civil engineers are well paid, but a postsecondary education, either a bachelor's or master's degree, is required to obtain the varied, necessary skill set. Though the current job market is competitive, reasonable employment opportunities exist for this occupation as there will always be a demand for the design, construction and maintenance of buildings and public infrastructure.