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Career and Education Opportunities for Civil Engineers in Vancouver, Washington

If you want to be a civil engineer, the Vancouver, Washington area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 13,070 working civil engineers in Washington; this should grow 22% to about 15,980 working civil engineers in the state by 2016. This is not quite as good as the national trend for civil engineers, which sees this job pool growing by about 24.3% over the next eight years. In general, civil engineers perform engineering duties in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of building structures, and facilities, such as roads, railroads, airports, bridges, harbors, channels, dams, irrigation projects, pipelines, power plants, water and sewage systems, and waste disposal units.

Civil engineers earn about $36 per hour or $75,320 yearly on average in Washington and about $35 hourly or $74,600 yearly on average nationally. Compared with people working in the overall category of Engineering, people working as civil engineers in Washington earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Engineering nationally. Civil engineers work in a variety of jobs, including: structural steel engineer, track production engineer, and structural designer.

There are forty-eight schools of higher education in the Vancouver area, including two within twenty-five miles of Vancouver where you can get a degree to start your career as a civil engineer. The most common level of education for civil engineers is a Bachelor's degree. You can expect to spend about four years training to become a civil engineer if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Civil Engineer

Civil Engineer video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, civil engineers perform engineering duties in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of building structures, and facilities, such as roads, railroads, airports, bridges, harbors, channels, dams, irrigation projects, pipelines, power plants, water and sewage systems, and waste disposal units. They also includes architectural, structural, and geo-technical engineers.

Civil engineers oversee and direct staff members and the construction, operations, or maintenance efforts at project site. They also furnish technical advice regarding layout or program modifications and structural repairs to industrial and managerial personnel. Equally important, civil engineers have to estimate quantities and cost of materials or labor to establish project feasibility. They are often called upon to analyze survey reports and other topographical or geologic data to develop projects. They are expected to inspect project sites to track progress and insure conformance to layout specifications and safety or sanitation standards. Finally, civil engineers conduct studies of traffic patterns or environmental conditions to pinpoint engineering problems and assess the potential impact of projects.

Every day, civil engineers are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to articulate ideas and problems. It is also important that they think through problems and come up with general rules.

It is important for civil engineers to formulate and layout transportation or hydraulic systems and structures, following construction and government standards, using layout software and drawing tools. They are often called upon to direct or participate in surveying to lay out installations and establish reference points and elevations to guide construction. They also test soils and materials to establish the adequacy and strength of foundations or steel. Somewhat less frequently, civil engineers are also expected to ready or present public reports on topics such as bid proposals, deeds, environmental impact statements, or property and right-of-way descriptions.

They also have to be able to compute load and grade requirements, water flow rates, and material stress factors to establish layout specifications and conduct studies of traffic patterns or environmental conditions to pinpoint engineering problems and assess the potential impact of projects. And finally, they sometimes have to test soils and materials to establish the adequacy and strength of foundations or steel.

Like many other jobs, civil engineers must be able to absorb the factors involved and a problem and provide a well thought out solution and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Vancouver include:

  • Architect. Plan and design structures, such as private residences, office buildings, and other structural property.
  • Biomedical Engineer. Apply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products, such as artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems.
  • CAD/CAM Specialist. Prepare detailed working diagrams of machinery and mechanical devices, including dimensions, and other engineering information.
  • Civil Engineering Technician. Apply theory and principles of civil engineering in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of structures and facilities under the direction of engineering staff or physical scientists.
  • Computer Engineer. Research, design, and test computer or computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, or scientific use. May supervise the manufacturing and installation of computer or computer-related equipment and components.
  • Electrical Engineer. Design, develop, or supervise the manufacturing and installation of electrical equipment, components, or systems for commercial, industrial, or scientific use.
  • Electronics Engineer. Research, design, and test electronic components and systems for commercial, industrial, or scientific use utilizing knowledge of electronic theory and materials properties. Design electronic circuits and components for use in fields such as telecommunications, aerospace guidance and propulsion control, acoustics, or instruments and controls.
  • Industrial Engineer. Design, develop, and evaluate integrated systems for managing industrial production processes including human work factors, quality control, inventory control, logistics and material flow, cost analysis, and production coordination.
  • Manufacturing Engineer. Apply knowledge of materials and engineering theory and methods to design, integrate, and improve manufacturing systems or related processes. May work with commercial or industrial designers to refine product designs to increase producibility and decrease costs.
  • Materials Engineer. Evaluate materials and develop machinery and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications. Develop new uses for known materials. Includes those working with composite materials or specializing in one type of material, such as graphite, metal and metal alloys, ceramics and glass, plastics and polymers, and naturally occurring materials.
  • Mechanical Engineer. Perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, and other mechanically functioning equipment. Oversee installation, operation, and repair of such equipment as centralized heat, gas, and steam systems.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Civil Engineer Training

University of Portland - Portland, OR

University of Portland, 5000 N Willamette Blvd, Portland, OR 97203-5798. University of Portland is a small university located in Portland, Oregon. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,666 students and an admission rate of 79%. University of Portland has a bachelor's degree program in Civil Engineering which graduated thirty students in 2008.

Portland State University - Portland, OR

Portland State University, 724 SW Harrison, Portland, OR 97201. Portland State University is a large university located in Portland, Oregon. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 25,959 students and an admission rate of 80%. Portland State University has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree program in Civil Engineering which graduated forty-one and eight students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Planning and Scheduling Professional: The PSP certification is to recognize specialists who meet a demanding set of planning and scheduling criteria by a rigorous examination, experience, education and ethical qualificaion.

For more information, see the AACE International (Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering through total cost management) website.

Certified Forensic Claims Consultant : AACE International's Certified Forensic Claims Consultant (CFCC) certification program is designed to establish credentials to recognize your professional expertise.

For more information, see the AACE International (Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering through total cost management) website.

Certified Construction Manager: The Certified Construction Manager (CCM) is someone who has voluntarily met the prescribed criteria of the CCM program with regard to formal education, field experience and demonstrated capability and understanding of the CM body of knowledge.

For more information, see the Construction Management Association of America website.

Electrical & Instrumentation Pipeline Technician: Topics covered on exam include: Pipeline E & I Safety, Electrical Theory & General Knowledge, Inspect Test and Calibrate Pressure Switches and Transmitters, Test Overfill Protective Devices, Inspect and Calibrate Overfill Protective Devices, Verify or Set Protection Parameters for Programmable Controllers and/or other Instrumentation Control Loops, Actuator/Operator Adjustment, CPM Leak Detection, Maintain Fixed Gas Detection Equipment.

For more information, see the National Center for Construction Education and Research website.

Certified Ground Water Professional: The Ground Water Professional certification program began for AGWSE members in 1986.

For more information, see the National Ground Water Association website.

Highway Surveys: This certification program is for engineering technicians involved in field and/or office aspects of highway surveying.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Highway Traffic Operations: This certification program was designed for engineering technicians involved in traffic studies and traffic control.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Highway System Maintenance and Preservation: This certification is designed for engineering technicians who perform and inspect highway system maintenance and preservation work; the program is applicable to both private and public sector technicians.

For more information, see the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies website.

Certified Transfer Station Technical Associate: This certification was developed to address the increased interest in transfer stations and provide transfer station managers and others the opportunity to learn more about transfer station design and operation.

For more information, see the Solid Waste Association of North America website.

Traffic Signal Operations Specialist: The Traffic Signal Operations Specialist (TSOS) certification program is designed for candidates who have a wide range of education and experience with traffic signals, including engineers and technicians/technologists.

For more information, see the Transportation Professional Certification Board, Inc. website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Vancouver, Washington

Vancouver, Washington
Vancouver, Washington photo by Matthiasb

Vancouver is located in Clark County, Washington. It has a population of over 163,186, which has grown by 13.7% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Vancouver, 98, is near the national average. New single-family homes in Vancouver are priced at $95,700 on average, which is far less than the state average. In 2008, two hundred eighty new homes were built in Vancouver, down from four hundred twenty the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Vancouver are health care, educational services, and accommodation and food services. For men, it is construction, computer and electronic products, and accommodation and food services. The average travel time to work is about 23 minutes. More than 21.7% of Vancouver residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 7.4%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Vancouver is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Vancouver residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 27.9%, is less than both the national and state average. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Vancouver is home to the Vancouver Square and the Vancouver Plaza as well as Leverich Park and Wintler Park. Shopping malls in the area include Arbours Shopping Center, Millport Shopping Center and Vancouver Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Vancouver can choose from Comfort Suites Vancouver, Homewood Suites Portland-Vancouver and Best Western Hotel and Suites Vacouver Mall Dr for temporary stays in the area.