By Scott Christensen, CADD Tech & Beth Kirkevold, HR Generalist
If you are considering a career in land surveying or civil engineering, you are making a smart choice! There are numerous paths one could take and at the time we’re writing this, there is currently a very high-demand for these types of positions. Whether you choose an associate’s degree from a 2-year community college, or if you decide to pursue a 4-year degree, below are typical job opportunities that you might expect upon graduating.
You could become a Civil Tech and have the opportunity to work both indoor and outdoor. A Civil Tech does field work such as construction observation – they oversee the construction crew to make sure they are following the engineer’s plan. They also do inside work such as:
- Plan production
- Create detailed exhibits
- Draft topographic drawings
- Produce survey plats and easement exhibits
- Edit proposed pipe networks
- Assist with engineering documents and research
A land surveyor spends the majority of their time outside. If you cringe at the thought of sitting behind a computer desk for the rest of eternity (well, the rest of your working life, anyway!), a career in land surveying might be a perfect fit. Just keep in mind that these folks are in the field rain or shine. In Iowa, that could mean 100 degrees with the heat index in the summer and -20 in the winter!
Hands-On and High Tech
A CADD Tech uses programs such as AutoCAD and Civil 3D on a daily basis. Once the engineer decides on a plan, the CADD Tech is typically responsible for drafting and making changes. If you enjoy working as an integral part of a team, a technician works closely with the design engineers to produce detailed plans and specifications. There is also potential to move into a project management role, depending on the firm you’re with.
Engineer Intern / E.I. – If you are fresh out of college, you will need to follow the E.I. program and become an Engineer Intern if you want to pursue your P.E. to become a Professional Engineer. After five years of working under a P.E. as an E.I., you will have the opportunity to take a test to get your P.E. license. Once you are licensed, the governing body (National Society of Professional Engineers – https://www.nspe.org/) requires you to continue your education and will monitor credit hours each year. Your employer will assist you with this.
Design Engineer / Project Manager / P.E. – Once you become a P.E., you would want to choose which area of engineering you enjoy the most – such as land development, water and natural resources, waste water, structural, and more. Since this may not be easily identified before college, that is the beauty of the Civil Engineering degree – you can always switch things up if you get into one area that isn’t a great fit.
In smaller firms, like the one where we work, there’s an opportunity for someone to start in a position and then if it’s not a great fit, they could take a lateral move into something different. At CGA, we’ve had employees start in a position and after a while on the job they decided they preferred to be in the field more (or vice versa) so we were flexible with getting them into the right seat.