Where can civil engineers find work

Occupation civil engineer - job description and job opportunities

What do civil engineers do? What are your career opportunities? We look at careers in civil engineering so that you can assess careers and job prospects.

Civil engineering professions

On the construction site with a helmet and planning sketches - this is how typical civil engineers are imagined. But in reality a lot also happens at the desk. Because many graduates now do not choose the classic professional goal of construction manager, but work, for example, in engineering offices or authorities, are involved in project development, IT or environmental protection.

Civil engineering is a broad discipline that consists of many disciplines. Students in higher semesters and in the master’s degree specialize in a field of competence (e.g. geotechnical engineering, water engineering, infrastructure, etc.) and can deepen their knowledge here. Therefore, the career opportunities after graduation are wide-ranging. Depending on the subject, the job offers are also varied.

We have therefore put together a brief overview of the specialist areas and the associated possible occupational fields.

University tip


Whether industrial engineering as a bachelor's degree or a state examination in the basics of computer science and programming, the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences offers you a wide range of advanced training courses and courses. You can find details in the information material.

Fields of activity of civil engineers

Structural engineering

We specialize in the construction and dimensioning of supporting structures, which form the basis for the construction of various structures. Graduates in this field have thus qualified for the technical implementation in structural planning.

Possible job profiles are, for example, project managers in engineering offices, self-employed structural planners, executives in the construction industry, managerial positions in project developments and employees in the upper-class public sector.

Wherever there is construction, many things happen simultaneously. So that everything is in the right place at the right time, all assembly workers take on the right tasks and a building is completed on time, there are suitable specialists. Civil engineers who have specialized in construction operations are therefore primarily responsible for the management of a construction project. You do not serve the technical side, but coordinate and supervise a project and face the logistical challenges of complex construction plans. And when a building is completed, they often also take on the facility management, i.e. they take care of an economically and ecologically sensible management of the building.

Typical areas of work can be found in construction management and the management of construction companies, authorities, engineering offices, real estate companies and project developers.

In the field of hydraulic engineering, water, sewage and waste management, everything revolves mainly around one of the most important resources on earth. Those who specialize in this make a major contribution to preserving the environment.

The work areas include the extraction, treatment and distribution of drinking water, the construction of wells, the construction of dykes and dams, etc. But the planning and implementation of wastewater treatment systems and waste disposal systems are also part of the job.

Roads, cycle paths, rail networks or runways - wherever the topic of infrastructure is involved, transport engineers are deployed. You plan and build traffic routes and facilities and ensure that people can get from A to B safely and easily. Aspects of environmental protection such as reducing emissions also play a major role. Spatial planning, also known as urban and regional planning, is a field of activity that is closely linked to transport. Everything revolves around the structural development of cities and communities. Ecological, social and economic factors as well as buildings and green spaces are taken into account.

Transport engineers and city and regional planners work, for example, in the public service, municipal utilities, transport companies or large construction companies.

Geotechnical engineers deal with the mutual influence of structure and subsoil. So you are active where something is built on, in or under the earth or rocks. They develop solutions for foundations and ensure the safe load-bearing capacity of structures. They also work with the subsoil itself, for example for the stability of slopes, bank reinforcements and dams. They also measure, monitor and assess dynamic loads such as explosions or traffic loads.

Geotechnical engineers have a particularly varied day-to-day work because the nature of the ground can always be different and no two projects are the same. You work in government agencies, construction companies and engineering offices as well as in mining and in the development of oil wells.

Further specialist areas and areas of responsibility

As you can see, there are a number of job profiles and areas of application for civil engineering graduates. Other potential industries and companies in which civil engineers can find jobs are:

  • Civil engineering
  • Mining
  • Engineering offices
  • Manufacturers of precast parts and building materials
  • Real estate development or management companies
  • Construction software company
  • Public service
  • Municipal utilities
  • transport services
  • environmental Protection
  • Insurance
  • Research institutions

But not only the industries, but also the areas of activity in which you can work as a civil engineer are diverse. Civil engineers are mainly active in the following operational functions and tasks:

  • Quotation, calculation
  • Research & Development
  • construction
  • Customer service, customer service
  • Warehousing, materials management, shipping
  • Management, corporate governance
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Organization, planning
  • Sales sale

Career opportunities for civil engineers

As in other professions, you yourself are the smith of your own success. Those who are hard-working and ambitious can move up from civil engineers to team or project managers to site managers, or even to managing directors or board members. Civil engineers in the public sector can work their way up to the position of head of office, city councilor or building mayor. Depending on which subject you choose, your career opportunities also vary. The offers to work abroad are also different. Geotechnical experts, for example, are in demand internationally and therefore find it easy to find a job outside of Germany.

In principle, the job situation for civil engineers depends on the construction industry, but can generally be described as good. This is also due to the fact that a lot is happening in the construction industry. New developments need new skilled workers, which in turn means stable prospects for the future. With around 3,000 graduates and around 4,500 vacancies a year, there is still great demand for civil engineers.

In addition to the employment relationship, there is also the possibility of working as a freelancer. After all, around 25 percent of civil engineers are self-employed - that is more percent than engineers from other disciplines. But one thing should be noted: It is best to first gain a few years of professional experience in a company and only then start self-employment.

Salary: what does a civil engineer earn?

Civil engineers usually earn a little less than engineers from other disciplines, but they can still look forward to a very good salary. We'll tell you how high that can be in our detailed salary article:

Salary civil engineer

Vacancies for civil engineers

Curious about the job market? Job advertisements are a good source of assessing job prospects - not just for those who are already looking.