Top 3 Jobs for Highest Civil Engineer Salary

Civil Engineer Salary can go as high as $196k per year, and here's how you can get close to making that salary in your engineering career.
Nader Mowlaee

Top 3 Jobs for Highest Civil Engineer Salary

Civil engineering is the second oldest field after military engineering and is also one of the most popular engineering programs in universities. To earn a high-level civil engineer starting salary, you must largely contribute to the infrastructure, environment, road, bridges, and all standing and underground buildings and tunnels around us. Such structures include highways, rivers, canals, dams, and transportation systems. Civil engineer jobs basically design, develop, build, maintain, and transform everything around us. Due to its strict requirements, civil engineering is one of the highest-paid careers you can find. It is also a real challenge!


In this article, we are going to discuss 3 career paths for the highest civil engineer salary, but first, let’s examine in more detail what civil engineering is and which different subfields or branches exist. This will help new civil engineering graduates to decide what path to pursue. According to ZipRecruiter, a civil engineer’s average starting salary ranges from $19.67 per hour in North Carolina to $30.96 per hour in New York. However, remember that this varies on many different factors, such as company and location.

What is Civil Engineering?

The Civil Engineering job description focuses on the discipline that leads to designing, construction, and maintenance of the physical and natural environment. It begins in the public sector from the municipal areas, the national governments, up to the private sectors, and even in individual homes and international companies.

Top 3 Jobs for Highest Civil Engineer Salary
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New civil engineers can choose from several fields, and these include Material Science Engineering, which studies fundamental characteristics of materials such as ceramics, concrete, asphalt concrete, and heavy metals including aluminum, steel, thermosetting polymers, polymethyl methacrylate, and carbon fibers. It involves protection, prevention, and combining two types of metals to produce another metal with a desirable property.

Another type of civil engineering job is called Coastal Engineering. This deals with managing the coastal areas, which involve the protection and defense against flooding and erosion respectively.

Then there is Construction Engineering, which involves planning, execution, transportation of materials, and development of sites based on hydraulic, environmental, structural, and geotechnical engineering.

Earthquake Engineering is another branch of Civil Engineering jobs. This covers designing structures so they can withstand hazardous earthquake incidents. It is the aim of this field to understand the components of structures built on unstable grounds and predict the possible consequences or effects of earthquakes. This area is responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining structures.

On the other hand, the Environmental Engineering branch of Civil Engineering deals with the sanitation of the environment. It is also called Sanitary Engineering. This field manages how chemical, biological, or thermal waste is treated. It is responsible for water and air purification and remediation of contaminated sites after waste disposal or contamination.

Another field is Geotechnical Engineering, which involves the rock and soil supporting engineering systems. This field uses soil science, material science, mechanics, and hydraulics knowledge to safely and economically design retaining walls, foundations, and other structures.

Then there is Marine and Water Resources Engineering, which deals with natural resources and is mainly concerned with the collection and management of water. It involves hydrology, environmental science, meteorology, conservation, and resource management. It aims to design pipelines, water supply networks, drainage facilities, dams, bridges, levees, storm sewers, channels, and canals. The central concept is fluid pressure, hydraulics, fluid dynamics, and fluid statics.

Structural Engineering mainly focuses on the structural design and analysis of buildings, towers, bridges, tunnels, flyovers, highways, and offshore like oil and gas fields in the ocean.

Transportation Engineering deals with designing, constructing, and maintaining transportation infrastructures, which involve streets, canals, highways, rail systems, airports, ports, and mass transit. It caters to transportation design, transportation planning, and traffic engineering.

Municipal and Urban Engineering caters to the municipal infrastructure, which involves specifying, designing, and constructing, as well as maintaining the streets, sidewalks, water supply networks, sewers, street lighting, public works, public parks, cycling infrastructure, and municipal solid waste management including the disposal, storage, and maintenance.

Top 3 Jobs for Highest Civil Engineer Salary
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To earn a top-level Civil Engineer salary, you must hold a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, which requires a solid background in mathematics and related hard sciences. Most countries also have a licensure examination to become a full-fledged Civil Engineer. Masters and Ph.D. Programs are available in a plethora of other subfields or branches.

Major employers provide excellent benefits for top professionals as well as a hefty salary based on experience and education. Many of them are government agencies so you are likely to work within the public sector.

Top 3 Jobs for Highest Civil Engineer Salary

Top 3 Jobs for Highest Civil Engineer Salary
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Engineering Project Managers

An Engineering Project Manager is responsible for planning, directing, and organizing projects, preparing proposals, maintaining financial records, creating a product strategy, and ensuring the projects strictly follow the safety regulations.

The role of an Engineering Project Manager is to survey a project, provide engineering support services for all divisions, and be a backup for all engineering department members as needed. Another responsibility for this position is to process practical experience in various fields of engineering, including civil, mechanical, electrical, and environmental.

You must have excellent communication skills, the ability to manage time efficiently, and the capacity to work with little supervision. A bachelor’s degree in the civil engineering discipline is a must in this field. Here are some of the best civil engineering schools in the USA.

An Engineering Project Manager can expect compensation ranging from $55k to $106k a year (depending on states) and has been seen to go as high as $196k per year, making it the highest Civil Engineer Salary on our list.

Senior Civil Engineer

A Senior Civil Engineer is responsible for planning, designing, developing, and managing projects concerning the construction and repairs of buildings, bridges, highways, and other structures.

The primary responsibilities of a Senior Civil Engineer are to review the engineering division and approve residential and commercial projects and construction drawings. It is also the duty of the Senior Civil Engineer to review permits, ensure compliance with the codes and standards, screen traffic and parking issues, handle water drainage and right-of-way issues, and secure requirements of planning.

Part of the job description of a senior civil engineer is to act as the City Engineer in the absence of such. They help manage the development and implementation of a stormwater management program to ensure permit requirements are met. They also conduct examinations to support compliance with state and local codes and support project design projections.

They also determine the selection criteria and work with engineering and purchasing staff to select contractors and engineering consultants. They specify parameters and scope of work for the contractors and consultants, review and approve work done by the consultants, including pay requests from them, and supervise staff engineers and public services.

They are responsible for providing technical assistance and consulting with other departments regarding engineering functions, including site development, drainage, and transportation; providing training related to the use and development of the geographic information system and its database as well as software applications, answering technical questions and providing information to the public.

Those searching for employment within the field must hold a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and at least 6 years of experience in surveying, engineering design, inspection, and drafting.

Based on the official data report,  Senior Civil Engineer salary ranges from $79k to $132k annually. Sometimes they can go as high as $163k per year, making a professional working in this field the 2nd highest-paid Civil Engineer on our list. Here are a few success stories from famous civil engineers.

Engineering Managers

An Engineering Manager coordinates and directs design projects, making detailed plans to accomplish goals and directs the integration of technical activities. They also analyze technology, resource needs, and market demands to plan and assess the feasibility of designs.

An Engineering Manager is responsible for planning and directing the installation, testing, operation, maintenance, and repair of facilities and equipment. They are responsible for directing, reviewing, and approving product designs and changes. They prepare budgets, bids, and contracts while addressing the negotiation of research contracts.

They also develop and implement policies, standards, and procedures for the engineering and technical work performed in the department and perform administrative functions such as reviewing and writing reports, approving expenditures, enforcing rules, and making decisions about the materials to purchase or services needed.

A bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and managerial experience is needed for this position.

According to statistics, the median salary for a Civil Engineering Manager ranges from $81k to $97k per year, making it the 3rd highest Civil Engineer Salary on our list. Although entry-level salaries will be higher for this group, the range is rather small, making it less viable in terms of getting a higher salary later on.

For a high-level civil engineering job description, job outlook, and more information, refer to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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