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Must Have Skills of a Civil Engineer

Must Have Skills of a Civil Engineer

The world relies on civil engineers to use their technical skills to develop and build the critical infrastructure needed for our modern lives. The work of civil engineers in designing, planning and constructing 21st century infrastructure enables continued progress.

Firms looking to find their next superstar bridge builder or architectural design manager should look for professionals with the must have skills of a civil engineer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “As current U.S. infrastructure experiences growing obsolescence, civil engineers will be needed to manage projects to rebuild, repair, and upgrade bridges, roads, levees, dams, airports, buildings and other structures.” They project 347,300 civil engineering jobs in the U.S. by 2028. 

What should firms look for when hiring a civil engineer? It’ll be a combination of technical and communication skills, leadership, attention to detail and problem-solving that will create the ideal hire for any civil engineering firm.

Technical Skill

Engineering is a career rooted in science. Civil engineering includes an understanding of chemistry, physics, biology and computer sciences. They also must have prowess in working with the materials, methods and the tools involved in the construction or repair of public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings and railways.


Civil engineering is a career of communications. From written reports and correspondence to project updates and technical specifications, civil engineers must communicate clearly and authoritatively. They must be able to communicate highly technical information to other professionals and stakeholders along with others who may not possess technical backgrounds in engineering or science. 

Both oral and written communication skills are critical for civil engineers. This entails being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude. Active listening is also important; giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, and asking questions as appropriate.


Civil engineers must lead by example; they are ultimately in charge of surveyors, construction managers, technicians, contractors, architects, urban planners, transportation engineers as well as maintaining the trust of governmental planning authorities. To keep a project on time and budget, they must be able to successfully lead all members of their team.

Attention to Detail

One of the most important skills required to be a successful civil engineer is organization. At any given time, they can have several active projects in different stages, from concept through construction, so attention to detail can help the status of every project and what the next steps are. Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, designing forms and other office procedures and terminology are helpful to stay organized.

Problem Solving

Engineers are problem solvers by nature. They are inquisitive and curious about how things work and how to make them work better. Civil engineers can take that curiosity and apply it to any number of pressing issues with our country’s infrastructure and natural resources.

For example, in California there are wildfires and droughts caused by a dry climate and that affects agriculture, manufacturing and residential areas across the state. The California State Legislature has mandated the increased use of recycled water by at least 1 million acre feet to 1.5 million-acre feet by 2020. Civil engineers can take their problem solving prowess and devise systems to recycle wastewater for California’s farms and industry.

Hiring Your Next Civil Engineer

What to look for when hiring a civil engineer?  Your next hire should have the education, knowledge and skills including leadership, organization, problem solving and communication to become successful at your firm. Civil engineers are passionate about the work they do and its effects on people and communities. By utilizing Nearterm’s expertise in finding top-tier professionals to clients nationwide, they’ll be able to find the right civil engineer for you. Contact us today.