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Civil Engineering Outlook...Advice?

mjm08028mjm08028 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
edited December 2013 in Engineering Majors
I graduated in 2010 with a BS in civil engineering and went to graduate school to wait out the recession but it seems like my prospects haven't changed. I have a 3.1 GPA research experience, leadership activities, and one summer internship. I graduated with my Master's in December of 2011.

It seems really hard to get my foot in the door and I feel stuck. Civil engineering has a lot to do with how good the economy is and there just isn't a lot of work being done in the private or public sector. I have heard that civil eng probably won't be back to where it will be until another 5-10 years. It is pretty discouraging to see PEs at the college career fair looking for work.

Applying for 60-80 jobs I at least have had three interviews.I feel bad for some of my classmates such as a guy with a family but he is an immigrant with not the greatest communication skills and he is middle aged and hasn't had any luck whatsoever.

What are my options? Should I go back to school for something else and take on more debt?
Post edited by mjm08028 on
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Replies to: Civil Engineering Outlook...Advice?

  • alchemist007alchemist007 Registered User Posts: 419 Member
    Because you have an engineering degree you could go to law school and become a patent lawyer. Patent lawyers have excellent job prospects. They also tend to drive luxury sedans.
  • rheidzanrheidzan Registered User Posts: 401 Member
    law degree + civil does not equate excellent prospects. maybe me, ee or cheme, but not cive.

    I'd say cut your loss and study something else.

    The civil field will not recover in AT LEAST another 5 years, if we're lucky. The economy is undergoing a major structural shift unlike past recessions. For one our global economy is very interrelated, unlike decades ago, and economies around the world are gaining their share of the pie. This is very different than the oil bust, like certain individuals like compare it with. Start reading more news on the economy.. go to sites like real clear market, economist, etc and you'll figure out what I'm saying is not BS.

    I work for the biggest publicly owned utility company in the US, and we just hired a couple of PHDs from USC, with PEs for entry level positions. That should tell you how brutal the job market is.
  • quicksilverquicksilver Registered User Posts: 102 Junior Member
    I second what rheidzan said -- the job market is brutal. At mjm08028, maybe going back to school to get your Ph.D. would help since you have your Master's already? What did you get your Master's in? There are different areas of specialty, like Structural and Transporation. Are you also open to relocation? Applying to at least 100 jobs and getting only a couple of interviews is pretty typical these days.
  • alchemist007alchemist007 Registered User Posts: 419 Member
    You could also apply for a non-engineering job. Your degree will put you ahead of most of the other applicants who will likely have liberal art degrees. Make sure you prepare a good answer for when they ask you in an interview why you want a non-engineering job.
  • boomer01boomer01 Registered User Posts: 891 Member
    You should try looking for jobs in Asia or Australia, especially if you have the local language down already. Many countries in Asia (India, Vietnam, Indonesia) are on a building binge currently to improve infrastructure and Australia has a growing mining industry that can use a civil engineer.
  • MaineLonghornMaineLonghorn Super Moderator Posts: 39,059 Super Moderator
    In 1985, my husband and I, both structural engineers, sent out 273 resumes all over the country. We probably got five responses, most negative. Fortunately, a company in Maine interviewed both of us and hired us. It took about six months after graduation to find the job.

    I guess we're fortunate we're busy (we work for ourselves and have no other employees). We're presently working on projects at two hospitals and a police department building. I was up until 3:30 am working this morning. We're doing a lot of work for a good-sized AE firm that is overloaded. mjm, if you'd like, PM me and I'll give you the name of the company. Let me know if you're structural or what. (hmm, if you got the job, it might cost us work, but that's OK).
  • rheidzanrheidzan Registered User Posts: 401 Member
    You should try looking for jobs in Asia or Australia, especially if you have the local language down already. Many countries in Asia (India, Vietnam, Indonesia) are on a building binge currently to improve infrastructure and Australia has a growing mining industry that can use a civil engineer.
    Australia is growing. I would know b/c my fiance is from Sydney and I've been in touch with a few recruiters. Not only they would pay much more than what I'm earning now, AUD is stronger than USD.

    Emerging markets in Southeast Asia is also recruiting. Try looking for US companies. I know aecom, ch2m, parsons and other big companies have presence there.
    I had about 1.5-month trip to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangkok and Taipei last Dec-Jan, and man, I haven't seen construction work like that here in LA. At least not for the past 6-7 years since I started my career.

    Anyway, I don't want to be all doom and gloomy, but let's be realistic. Most of my friends who work in smaller firms with 6-7 years of experience and PE are competing with you guys fresh grads for fresh grad salary. You think you have a chance?
    The only ones who so far have managed to keep their jobs are friends who either work for gov't, utility or big companies. The rest are back in school for something else.
  • concerned123concerned123 Registered User Posts: 324 Member
    Civil Engineering consists of so much more than construction, though -- within the civil engineering field there is structural, transportation, environmental - all fall under the civil umbrella. Add to that the infrastructure of the nations roadways are crumbling around us. I have a son who works as a co-op for company that builds water tanks - that's civil engineering and is construction in some way. I'm afraid I don't understand all the negativity with regard to civil - I agree construction has suffered, but it will come back and I don't think it will be 10 years. and in the meantime I think the other areas of civil are still going strong. I work in the transporation industry and I see it all the time.
  • chaoswithinthedchaoswithinthed Registered User Posts: 350 Member
    It's tough to branch out outside of Structural from what I've seen. Companies are willing to hire specifically structural for stress analysis, but a general civil just doesn't have the background.
  • concerned123concerned123 Registered User Posts: 324 Member
    Well, sure, if that is what the background is and that is what the job experience is. At son's school they have the 3 concentrations I mention below - so students gain co-op experience in their concentration and relevant courses.
  • mjm08028mjm08028 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    I have my Master's with a concentration in structural engineering and mechanics.
  • mjm08028mjm08028 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    Sorry for such a delay in the update. A friend of mine who I went to school with me offered me a job in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Here are the details housing/vehicle allowance, 60 Hour work week, insurance, 10,000 dirhams a month.

    I am not sure how I feel about the 60 hr work week. I I know it is a very different culture and I will not know anybody. It is such a big move for me if I took it. 1 USD = 3.675 dirhams.

    I am seriously considering going back to school for something else but I just don't know what to do.

    What are some types of jobs I could apply to with my degree that I stand a chance of getting with my skill set?
  • CoolioCCoolioC Registered User Posts: 108 Junior Member
    If you aren't finding work in the States, just head over to the Middle East. The longer you are unemployed the harder it will be for you to get a job. However, you're salary is about $33,000/year. Can you survive on that? Isn't the UAE expensive?
  • mjm08028mjm08028 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
    They said that was the starting salary for training which is around 5 to 6 months. I will not have to pay for housing, vehicle, and insurance. That $33,000 is also tax free because it is illegal in muslim law to pay taxes. The US has an exclusion up to $180,000 a year for US citizens working overseas in the UAE.

    It is the 27th most expensive city in the world so it might be. I have been unemployed for about 4 months now. I know the experience is valuable but is it worth a 60-hr work week. I believe in a balance between life and work. I have worked 40 hrs a week before 5-8 hr shifts and 4-10hr shifts.
  • rheidzanrheidzan Registered User Posts: 401 Member
    Have you contacted the above poster yet? It seems relocating to Maine would be far closer and you can get that work experience counted for your PE.
This discussion has been closed.