Whether you are a current military Servicemember or Veteran, the field of civil engineering opens many lucrative job opportunities for those who have served our Nation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers earn an average salary of $86,640. The highest 10% earn more than $138,110 per year. Many of the hands-on design and construction skills learned during a person’s military experience can be immediately applied to a civil engineering position, making civil engineering an exceptional post-service career.
Civil engineers in the military
There are a variety of civil engineering positions for Servicemembers and Veterans who want to work in the office or have hands-on work. Building on previous training, there are civil engineering positions specific to the Air Force, Army, and Navy/Marines, as well as civilian positions for those transferring out of a military role.
Civil engineering is essential for providing the Air Force with a number of important tasks and keeping facilities running efficiently. The Air Force requires bases with infrastructure for both Servicemembers and equipment, including hangars, runways, warehouses, housing, sewage, and dormitories. Civil engineers also use their expertise to draft, survey, plan, and maintain these facilities while on an installation or deployed. The Air Force has a number of possible careers for civil engineers, including:
- Technical Engineer: Technical engineers provide the Air Force with detailed plans for engineering projects. They both supervise and take part in construction and site development. A technical engineer is responsible for investigation, land surveys, maps, and planning and designing construction projects.
- Developmental Engineer: Developmental engineers are responsible for planning, organizing, and implementing engineering projects for the Air Force. They perform a wide range of tasks including aeronautical systems and mechanical engineering. Developmental engineers can find careers in other sub fields as well, which are aerospace, aeronautical, computer, electric, and mechanical engineering.
- Construction Engineers: Air Force construction engineers plan, design, and maintain base buildings and structures.
Civil engineering positions in the Air Force are a part of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center.
The US Army has a wide range of Engineering positons that span both installation and deployed missions. Civil engineers provide essential infrastructure through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers , the world's largest public engineering, design, and construction management agency. Engineers in the U.S. Army perform missions that range from building maintenance, master planning, environmental management, energy management, military housing, and infrastructure support that includes roads, water, sewer, and natural disaster planning. U.S. Army civil engineers often research and develop technology for Servicemembers in war, as well as they often create hurricane and storm damage reduction infrastructure. Civil Engineering could also lead to a career as a combat engineer or providing the nation with essential infrastructure including dams and locks. Popular Army civil engineering positions include:
- Engineer Branch Officer: Army engineering officers provide support for all aspects of engineering within the Army. Responsibilities include public works, construction of buildings and infrastructure, and support combat and peacetime operations.
- Horizontal Construction Engineer: An Army horizontal construction engineer uses heavy machinery to dig, shape, and move earth and other materials in order to complete construction tasks. Heavy machinery and vehicles utilized by horizontal construction engineers include bulldozers, cranes, graders, tractors, and excavators.
- Technical Engineer: Technical engineers provide the Army with detailed plans for engineering projects. They both supervise and take part in construction and site development. A technical engineer is responsible for investigation, land surveys, maps, and planning and designing construction projects.
- Watercraft Engineer: Watercraft engineers are responsible for maintenance of watercraft used by the Army, as well as auxiliary equipment and other vessels.
At the Engineer Branch Lieutenant level, Servicemembers assist with the planning and execution of engineer missions at the tactical to operational level. In addition, Engineer branch Captains are tasked with advising the implementation of engineering plans within other units, such as the Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve organizations.
The Navy relies on Civil Engineers for the construction and support of its fleets and bases. Docks, shipyards, and runways are among the most critical structures, but a Navy civil engineer could find a career in architecture, construction, land surveying, hydraulic engineering, and community planning. Civil engineers are essential to construct and maintain the Navy’s fleet and infrastructure.
One path a Navy civil engineer may take is the Navy Civil Engineer Corps. The Navy Civil Engineer Corps focuses on:
- Contract Management: Navy contract managers will be the main contact between Navy and civil contractors.
- Public Works: In Navy public works, Servicemembers in this role oversee and implement plans for the Navy shore facilities.
- Construction Battalions: These specialized units oversee the construction of airfields, bridges, ports, and buildings. The Seabees are the Navy’s Construction Battalions Servicemembers who assist with the building of Naval bases, including land surveying for buildings and airstrips.
Those entering the Civil Engineer Corps must first attend Officer Candidate School and have a bachelor’s degree but can continue their education by earning a master’s degree to advance their career.
Civilian civil engineer positions
Hands-on building, construction, and project management skills can be applied to civilian civil engineer positions. Civilian civil engineers are responsible for the construction and maintenance of the nation’s extensive system of waterways and the relationship between people and the environment, which includes land surveying, community planning, and architecture. Construction of dams, locks, and ports, as well as the maintenance of rivers and other waterways is essential. Civil engineering can also lead to careers in other subfields, such as environmental engineering.
Types civilian civil engineering positions Veterans can leverage include:
- Construction Engineers: Construction Engineers manage construction projects with responsibilities that include supervision of teams, review of projects for technical accuracy, and ensuring that projects proceed on schedule and align with organizational goals and strategies.
- Geotechnical Engineers: Geotechnical Engineers focus on applying principles of soil mechanics, foundation engineering, earthquake engineering, soil stabilization, and computational modeling to analyze and design geotechnical components of projects.
- Structural Engineers: Structural Engineers lead a team in properly executing project management to ensure safe, stable, and secure design, construction, or rehabilitation of structures without damaging the surrounding environment.
- Transportation Engineers: Transportation Engineers design streets, highways, airports, seaports, and mass transit systems (subways, commuter trains, and buses).
Various tools, resources, and programs can assist veterans in their post-military career transition. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Veterans' Employment and Training Service (VETS) helps prospective employers find and hire qualified veterans across the country. Specific government organizations looking to hire veterans can use the services of RecruitMilitary to find qualified former military members. This organization provides information on how entities like government agencies can find and hire veterans through career fairs and an online candidate database. Veterans and employers also can use staffing firms to locate and fill short-term, seasonal, and contract positions, according to Military.com.
Financial resources for military Servicemembers and Veterans going back to school
Typically, a civil engineer will need at least a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, but an advanced degree, such as Master of Civil Engineering, will put civil engineers in a position for advancement. Paying for your degree may be front of mind for many Veterans and Servicemembers, so Norwich provides resources for education funding. We highlighted some of the most essential information for education funding, which includes:
- GI Bill® — a government program that provides education and tuition benefits to military members who have completed their service. Veterans can use the bill to receive four years of full tuition (up to $24,476.79 for private or foreign schools) to pay for in-state student fees. Veterans also can use tuition benefits for vocational flight schools, correspondence schools and non-college degree-granting institutions.
- Montgomery GI Bill® offers active-duty Servicemembers and Reserve Servicemembers a monthly education benefit for up to three years for vocational training.
- STEM careers: Additional benefits offered by the Forever GI Bill® provides additional benefits to those in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs.
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program can forgive the remaining balance on a veteran’s direct student loan after “120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.”
In addition, Norwich offers multiple exclusive scholarship opportunities:
Veterans and Servicemembers should pursue multiple scholarships and government funding to ease the process of earning an advanced degree.
Servicemembers and Veterans have several opportunities to pursue a Civil Engineering education. While prior learning and training can assist the process of earning a civil engineering position, a master’s degree can leverage you for career advancement.
As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University continues to maintain its position in innovative education for military leaders for over 200 years. Norwich’s online Master of Civil of Engineering degree program can set you up for leadership roles in the civil engineering field. Learn more today by calling 1-866-684-7237 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.