Most civil engineers begin their careers by obtaining a bachelor's degree. Today, however, the increasing need to differentiate yourself in the job market and the demand for deeper expertise have many wondering: would pursuing a graduate degree really be worth it?
While salary considerations are an important, top-of-mind factor in determining your return on investment, this article will cover other benefits like networking, deepening your knowledge of the field through specialization, and increasing your social impact.
Elevated Salary and Projected Industry Growth
The median salary for all entry-level civil engineers in the U.S. is $69,705, according to Salary.com. As earnings often correlate with educational level, obtaining a master’s degree in civil engineering has a significant impact on income. Civil engineers with a master's degree earn a higher average salary than those with a bachelor’s, typically earning an average of $126,673 a year. Moreover, the demand for civil engineers is expected to grow steadily in the coming years, growing by four percent in the next ten years.
Career Paths and Networking
While advancing your higher education in civil engineering beyond a bachelor’s degree isn’t mandatory, a master's degree will help you stand out against other candidates, obtain higher salaries, and reach more lucrative career paths.
Civil engineers with a graduate degree often find engineering jobs in:
- Construction projects
- Infrastructure projects
- Renewable energy
- Water resources
Enrolling in a civil engineering master's program will also help you build a strong network with peers, faculty, and industry professionals. Many programs provide networking opportunities that help engineering graduates find work directly through their university or alumni network.
A Pathway to Developing a Specialization
Master’s programs typically build upon an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and offer the chance to develop advanced skills. By entering a graduate-level civil engineering program, you will deepen your understanding of how outside factors impact projects, as well as how your projects impact society at large. For example, a master’s degree in civil engineering will help you develop innovative thinking approaches to address complex problems.
Graduate degree programs also provide an opportunity for specialization, allowing you to further develop your expertise in a specific area of civil engineering or a related field, opening doors for more specific job opportunities.
Because civil engineering is a rigorous and important profession in which projects have a real-world impact on infrastructure and people's lives, highly specialized civil engineers are in high demand. On average, about 25,000 openings for civil engineering jobs are expected in the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Engineers with a graduate civil engineering degree typically specialize in areas such as:
- Construction engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Geotechnical engineering
- Materials engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Structural Engineering
- Transportation engineering
Some degree programs allow students to choose a specialized field of interest in civil engineering. For example, Purdue University’s Online Master’s in Civil Engineering offers specialty tracks in three domains: 1) Infrastructure, Resiliency, and Sustainability, 2) Smart Mobility, and 3) Sustainable Water. These specialty tracks enable students to begin job-specific training early on, giving them a head start in their engineering careers.
Flexibility: Can I Work While Getting a Civil Engineering Master’s Degree?
The availability of online master’s programs in civil engineering has ensured that these degrees are more accessible and affordable than ever, offering students the option of attending while maintaining their full-time jobs.
Engineering students can attend online programs part-time and at their own pace, and can immediately apply what they learn in the classroom directly to the real world.
Your Next Step: Explore a Top Program
Overall, pursuing a master's degree in civil engineering enables you to dive deeper into the principles of the field while putting you on an upward trajectory in your engineering career.
If you're ready to start exploring graduate options for civil engineering, explore this top-ranked Online Master’s in Civil Engineering program from Purdue University.
Purdue’s civil engineering master's degree offers students an opportunity to further their skills through an accessible and affordable program. Students enrolled in the program have the chance to specialize in specific areas of the field and gain in-depth knowledge about civil engineering that is directly applicable to real-world problems.
To gain additional insight into the program, including coursework and application requirements, fill out the Request for Information Form.