I’ve received a few emails asking about what the career of a civil engineer is like. So I sat down with a friend of mine who is a civil engineer to see what a day in the life of a civil engineer consists of. Here is what he said goes on in typical day:

8:00 AM– I arrive at the office, greet my co-workers, and find out what the current talk of the town is. This is important, as it may affect my planning for future jobs. I need to know what sort of planning is being done, what projects are currently in progress, and what public opinion of previous work is. This can give me guidance in the future. During this time I also plan out my day, which involves reviewing appointments and seeing when I am required to be on-site, which is not extremely frequent.

9:00 AM– I begin work on drafting a large project to be completed later this year. I received a call from a contractor requesting I inspect some electrical work that had been done, so I schedule that for later in the day. Once I complete my planned progress on the drafting, I spend some time reading and responding to emails that I had previously neglected.

10:00 AM– I go out to inspect the previously mentioned electrical work. This involves making sure that everything meets our building code requirements, and suggesting potential improvements to the current design. As building codes are constantly being updated, calls like this are amongst the most common I receive, and I deal with them on a nearly daily basis.

11:00 AM– I make it back to the office, where I have my first appointment of the day. I meet with some local officials who have proposed a new park and recreational area. We discuss the associated costs and issues of building the park, which include buying land, surveying, ensuring any hazards are removed, arranging for plumbing and electrical lines to be run, and finding money for equipment and pavilions. With this done, we leave to inspect the potential site, where we do some rudimentary planning.

1:00 PM– I eat a late lunch with some of the other engineers in the city. We talk about new products that have come on the market that have the potential to save us time and money on future projects, and resolve to inspect some of these products in the upcoming weeks. All new materials and methods need to be inspected before we approve it for public works projects.

2:00 PM– I get back to the office, and make a rough draft of the park that we talked about. I look into several construction options, including a civic center, basketball and tennis courts, and a baseball field for the local little league teams. I make several different lists of options, and email them to the officials I met with earlier. I then receive a email to review CAD files of a planned subdivision.

3:30 PM– After reviewing the CAD files of the planned subdivision, I look at the soils and grading report and note that there may be drainage issues with the property. We discuss possible remedies for this problem, and the costs associated with each. I go back to the office.

4:00 PM– I spend some time touching base with some students who are interning at the office. I ask them about their research for the day, and address any questions and concerns they may have. Most of them are college students from the local university, and many of them have aspirations of working in this office when they graduate, so it is important they understand the ins and outs.

4:30 PM– I get ready to leave the office. I answer any final emails and phone calls, make sure that I have all of my work organized so that I may begin easily tomorrow, and I leave. Another great day in the life of a Civil engineer!

That’s a day in the life of a civil engineer in a nutshell. I hope it helps you make any decisions you are contemplating about your career.