Preparing for a Career in Civil Engineering

This page provides links to information to help you plan and prepare for your career in civil engineering following graduation.   You are also encouraged to meet with you advisor to discuss your specific career goals.

 Professional Licensure

Professional licensure is of great importance in the field of civil engineering.  The Professional Engineering license grants you the legal ability to perform engineering services for the public, take responsibility for your designs, reports, plans, professional opinions, and allows you to place your state-authorized engineering “seal” on your engineering work.  Your B.S. in civil engineering puts you on the path to licensure.  An important step to complete prior to graduation is to past the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam to become a license engineering in training (EIT).  More information on FE exam and PE license can be found at the UVA CE Licensure page.


Civil engineering internships are an important part of your education.  These allow you to apply the knowledge your are gaining in classes.  In addition, they provide you with the opportunity to learn more about the practice of civil engineering.  The School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Center for Engineering Career Development is a great resource to help you prepare for and identify internship opportunities.  In addition, our department’s alumni and friends frequently contact us with specific civil engineering internship opportunities.  These are emailed out to students and posted on the CE Internship Page.

Career Opportunities

The School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Center for Engineering Career Development is also great resource for graduating students and alumni looking for career opportunties.  The department also directly emails opportunities to graduating students and alumni, as well as posting them to the CE Career Opportunities Page.

Graduate School

A graduate degree in civil engineering is becoming increasingly important to allow engineers to gain the in-depth knowledge necessary to practice in a specialty area of civil engineering (such as environmental engineering, transportation engineering, or structural engineering).  In addition the American Society of Civil Engineers “Raise the Bar” initiative is proposing that the masters degree should be considered the “entry” degree to our profession.

Masters of Engineering in Civil Engineering at UVA (M.E. @ UVA)

An attractive option for many students is to pursue an M.E. in Civil Engineering at UVA.  In most cases, with careful planning, students can complete their B.S. and M.E. in just 5 years following enrollment at UVA.  For more detailed information on this program, please visit the M.E. @ UVA page.

Masters of Science (M.S.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Programs

Students interested in graduate programs with significant research components, should explore M.S. (thesis-based masters) or Ph.D. graduate programs.  In particular, students planning for research careers should strongly consider the Ph.D.  These programs combine coursework with in-depth research.

Universities typically award assistantships to highly qualified students  pursuing M.S. or Ph.D. degrees.  With an assistantship, the university will cover the student’s full tuition and fees, provide benefits (such as health insurance), plus a modest salary.  In exchange, the student will work for the university to either support the teaching mission (as a graduate teaching assistant) or research mission (as a graduate research assistant).  Our department supports a large number of graduate students on assistantships.

As research-based programs, admission to the M.S. or Ph.D. is largely based on the students potential and interest to support specific research programs.  Students are encouraged to closely examine department websites to find faculty conducting research in areas of interest.  Then, reaching out via email to inquire about graduate assistantship opportunies in encouraged.  Your advisor can help you with this process.  In addition, if you are interested in the M.S. or Ph.D at UVA, please meet with faculty in your areas of interest directly to discuss opportunties.  Keep in mind that deadline for application for Fall semester admission is typically in December of the previous year.

Other Useful Links

The American Society of Civil Engineers

ASCE Career Paths in Civil Engineering

What is Civil Engineering?

Slone Career Cornerstone Center Career Planning

Structural Engineering Institute