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Civil engineers make an average of $67,930 a year, according to PayScale.com. That’s already good when compared to the national average salary of all US workers, which is only $51,916. But it still falls behind many other professions which require a college degree. And it doesn’t have the same purchasing power anymore, as inflation keeps going up. That’s why this guide looks at the best ways for how to make extra money as a civil engineer.
Independent Contract Work
Start contracting on the side. It’s a great profession for freelancing. There are lots of projects out there. Companies generally don’t have a reason to keep engineers on-staff though, because the work is usually only temporary. That gives you plenty of opportunities to help businesses looking to outsource short-term projects. Just be careful managing your time between your clients and your regular job. If you enjoy working independently you might consider switching to all contracting. Another nice benefit is that you get to set your own rates.
Do Consulting Work
Like with contracting, working as a consultant lets you reach more clients outside of your normal job. This is a good option for those nearing retirement age and still trying to make money with their education. People will pay for your expertise and guidance on engineering matters. Consulting is also nice because it doesn’t require as much physical work. And, again, you’re the one in control. You set the schedule and consultation fees.
Teaching & Training Others
Why keep that wealth of knowledge to yourself? Invest in the future by helping educate the next generation of civil engineers. Schools are becoming less strict with required teaching credentials so it’s easier to find work in professional education. Check out local community colleges for associate professor jobs. They’re often short-staffed and underfunded which makes it easier to find teaching positions. And it doesn’t need to be a full-time gig.
Are You New to Civil Engineering?
This article is largely aimed at those already working in the engineering field. But we’ve included some helpful resources for those just getting started or considering careers in civil engineering.
- Job Description: Involved with overseeing the conception, design, supervision, operation, construction and maintenance of various infrastructure projects, both public and private
- Information and statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor
- Expected 10-Year Job Growth: 8% (25,300 new jobs)
- Required Education: Bachelor’s Degree / Associate’s Degree / On the Job Training
Top Colleges for Civil Engineers
- University of California (Berkeley)
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- University of Texas at Austin
- Purdue University
- University of Michigan
- Texas A&M University
- Stanford University
- Cornell University
- Virginia Tech
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Structural Engineer
- Geotechnical Engineer
- Environmental Engineer
- Managing Engineer
- Sustainability Consultant
- Design Engineer
- Site Engineer
- Marine Engineer
- Engineering Consultant
- Contracting Engineer
- Patent Attorney
Do you like physical work? Read about How to Make Money Hunting!
Average Salary by Experience
- Entry-Level: $59,065 per year
- Mid-Career: $76,079 per year
- Late-Career: $88,308 per year
Other Jobs to Consider
- Construction/Project Managers
- Mechanical Engineers
- Environmental Engineers
- Urban Planners
A career in civil engineering is clearly worth the cost of getting the necessary education. You get lots of job options, a decent salary, and lots of flexibility when taking on work. It can be demanding if you’re always on the road, travelling to different job sites, but that be a positive too. You get to see the world and meet interesting people. We’ll always have a need for good engineers as infrastructure breaks down and systems are upgraded. And all those projects give you lots of ways for you to make more money as a civil engineer.
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