How much money does a civil engineer earn is always a great question. Money issues are always relative. It is not just how big a paycheck, but what you have to do to get it, whether you enjoy the work and the environment, how much you get to keep after your living expenses, and what intangible rewards you might also value. Choosing to work in the public versus private sector may also influence salary ranges. As in any profession, civil engineering salaries bear some relationship to the level of responsibility the employee takes on.
Entry-level salaries vary based on your areas of expertise, experience, education, supervisory responsibility, accountability for projects, and the geographic location, size, and industry of the employer. According to a 2007 salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor’s degree civil engineering graduates posted a solid increase; their average rose 4.8 percent to $47,750. According the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for civil engineers is $68,600. In terms of starting salaries, the average starting salary for civil engineers who have earned a Bachelor’s degree is $48,509, while those with a Master’s were offered $48,280. PhD civil engineers received average starting salaries of $62,275.
The size of a company has considerable influence on the salary range for a given function. Larger firms tend to offer higher starting wages and more benefits, but upward mobility may be highly competitive. A smaller company may pay less but offer a more direct path to greater responsibility and a bigger check. It is your preference, and up to you to seek out the facts regarding each individual company you might consider working for. (corptech database of 45,000 technical companies, hoovers company info, equal opportunity publications, engineering news record, US Army Corps of Engineers, Best companies for working mothers)
Location is a factor in judging salaries. Pay in rural areas tends to be below salaries in big cities, but this if often offset by differences in cost of living.
Type of Employer
Rewards are very different in public and private sectors. The salaries may be higher in the private sector but when you consider the total compensation package, the difference may not be as significant.
Other Compensation Factors
Beyond the intrinsic reward of feeling good about your work, there are many varieties of compensation packages. Flexible hours and a family-friendly environment may be worth more than money to you. Everything from profit sharing to retirement benefits, health coverage, and vacation time should be part of your thinking in evaluating a potential employer. The opportunity for promotion and continuing education is particularly important for first-job seekers.