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Civil engineering is a dead field. Should I change my major?

Xinio654Xinio654 Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
edited June 2011 in Engineering Majors
I'm a civil engineering major going to the University of Maryland. I'm supposed to graduate in December 2011. My GPA is 3.213. I was thinking of changing my concentration in engineering because the construction industry is in a terrible situation and it doesn't seem to be getting better. Right now I'm on the infrastructure track (bridges, buildings, roads) but I'm thinking about changing to either the environmental engineering track or the transportation/project management track. How are those fields doing in terms of jobs and long-term employment growth?

I'm also thinking of leaving engineering and going into one of these majors:
-Computer Science
-Finance/accounting
-Geography/GIS
-Economics

How are those majors for employment potential? These are majors I have an interest in so it's not all about money.
Post edited by Xinio654 on
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Replies to: Civil engineering is a dead field. Should I change my major?

  • TomServoTomServo Posts: 2,047Registered User Senior Member
    Look at what they're paying.
  • PurdueEEPurdueEE Posts: 705Registered User Member
    CS will always be in demand. Always.

    The others do not have quite as good job prospects.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    What year are you? If you plan on graduating in 2011 (next year) and you switch from civil to CS (or economics, or finance/accounting...) then good luck buddy.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,845Registered User Senior Member
    Maybe and just MAYBE Geography/GIS can be switched to without too much delay. The other majors have core/elective courses that are sequenced and/or prerequisite for the next course and you would add AT LEAST 2.5 years to graduation.

    Wish I could tell you something better.

    UPDATE: Actually, I can.....

    You may want to hit up U-Maryland University college and see if you can take one of those undergraduate certificates is I.S. or I.T.

    If you are going to do computers, I.S./I.T. is a little easier to get into than computer science.
  • Aggie10Aggie10 Posts: 60Registered User Junior Member
    Environmental is probably the healthiest specialization in terms of job opportunities. I thought seriously about switching before starting my senior year and seriously regret not doing it. The job opportunities are incredibly poor right now for civil engineering graduates. Don't listen to people on this board who have jobs in the field saying it'll blow over soon. Listen to half of my graduating class from a top 15 engineering school that doesn't have jobs. It's ridiculously bad right now. Unless you're very interested in civil engineering, then switch, and switch now.
  • NegativeSlopeNegativeSlope Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    I'm also thinking of leaving engineering and going into one of these majors:
    -Computer Science
    Maybe it's just the place where I live in, but most of the computer science jobs require you to know a whole bunch of programming languages, most of which won't be taught in school (C#, J2EE, Ruby on Rails, etc). Don't do it unless you're willing to learn A LOT of new stuff on your own and have the money and patience to stay in school for 2-3 more years.
  • NegativeSlopeNegativeSlope Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    CS will always be in demand. Always.
    Only if you can keep up with the rat race of ever-evolving programming languages, databases, operating systems, and so on. By the time you learn a new skill, it's likely to be obsolete.
    The others do not have quite as good job prospects.
    True, but you could say that for almost any other major right now...
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    "Only if you can keep up with the rat race of ever-evolving programming languages, databases, operating systems, and so on. By the time you learn a new skill, it's likely to be obsolete."
    - This is overplayed a bit online. At any job that's not a total dead-end, this sort of evolution occurs pretty naturally over time... new project, customer wants Cake PHP, spend two days at work learning Cake PHP and then (a) you keep your job and (b) you have a new marketable skill. If anything software people have it easier than traditional engineering folk because the experimental apparati needed to become an expert at the latest technology include... a compiler? And maybe an account on a special computer?

    Still it is going to be a miracle if the OP can switch to CS now and graduate anywhere near on time. And if his heart isn't in it, it could be a bad move.
  • siglio21siglio21 Posts: 2,678Registered User Senior Member
    civil engineering is not a dead field...in fact, it's growing quite fast right now

    you probably just live in the wrong place...demand for CEs is largely regional
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Posts: 2,845Registered User Senior Member
    Only if you can keep up with the rat race of ever-evolving programming languages, databases, operating systems, and so on. By the time you learn a new skill, it's likely to be obsolete.

    Maybe programming languages, but one of the reasons I settled in databases is that the "Big 2", Oracle & SQL Server do not release new versions until every 3-4 years. Also, Oracle only stops support when you are 2 versions behind, not 1...so you can be 1 version behind and still be very employable.
  • Xinio654Xinio654 Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
    siglio21, where is civil engineering growing? What specific regions? And how fast?
  • Experiment8Experiment8 Posts: 262Registered User Junior Member
    Time for a new housing boom already? Las Vegas thinks so. - CSMonitor.com

    "From the recession’s lows, construction has nearly doubled in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson. It is up 74 percent in inland Southern California and soaring in Florida,” reports the New York Times."
  • NegativeSlopeNegativeSlope Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    "From the recession’s lows, construction has nearly doubled in Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson. It is up 74 percent in inland Southern California and soaring in Florida,” reports the New York Times."
    That's because they're starting from a low base. An increase from 150 homes built/month to 250 homes built/month is an increase of 67%. But an increase from 15,000 homes built/month to 16,000 homes built/month is only an an increase of 7%.

    In that case, the second situation (7% increase) is much better than the first (67% increase), even though the first one looks more impressive.
  • NegativeSlopeNegativeSlope Posts: 84Registered User Junior Member
    new project, customer wants Cake PHP, spend two days at work learning Cake PHP and then (a) you keep your job and (b) you have a new marketable skill.
    I think it takes a lot more than two days to learn Cake PHP or whatever skill that new project requires.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    ^ More realistically, you'd hope (and so would I) that these people would take it more seriously than that.

    Seriously though for somebody who as already used PHP and has some passing familiarity (probably acquired previously) with that sort of thing, two 8-hour days is an eternity to get up to speed in it, and after that it's just learning by doing (the doing being the job, btw). But still, a week, or even two weeks, is more than enough time, even with other things due while you're ramping up.
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