When I tell people that I am studying civil engineering the typical response I get is “Oh so you want to build bridges and buildings?” I usually smile and nod in confirmation. However there is so much more that civil engineers do. Before coming to USC I really had no idea about all of the different tracks just within civil engineering such as water resources, structural, environmental – just to name a few. It is one of the more diverse majors within Viterbi.

Basically, civil engineering is split up into two broad career paths- design and construction management. Within construction management, you can either work as a project manager or a superintendent. The difference between those is that the superintendent is constantly in the field working onsite. Whereas the project manager manages the overall project, which includes finance, field engineers, client relations and construction – the whole shebang.

Career Paths

Different Career Paths for Civil Engineers

Regardless of which career path you choose, civil engineers can also specialize in particular areas of study. Viterbi offers civil engineering degrees with the following emphases: Building Science (Architecture), Structural, Environmental Engineering and Construction Planning & Management. I am studying civil engineering general because I want the broad coverage of the field. I have taken classes related to structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, construction, environmental engineering and water resources engineering.

geisel library

The Beautiful Geisel Library on UCSD campus

Although I still have plenty of time to decide what I want to do once I graduate, I think that I am interested in the project manager track. I would work as a field engineer for multiple years and then once I have some experience under my belt, be promoted to project manager. I really enjoy working with people and construction. One of the great things about working in the construction industry is that all of the hard work put into the project, physically shows once the structure is complete.

My parents visiting me at my internship last summer

My parents visiting me at my internship last summer