* Recent college graduate unemployment rate is just 6.5%
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Civil Engineers, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineers.htm (visited March 24, 2022).
You can earn a Civil Engineering bachelor’s degree online in approximately four years. It may be possible to graduate earlier, if you take a full load (15 credits per semester) and don't take any terms off. However, you could make an arrangement with an engineering firm where your work for them alternates with time in school. This sort of co-op system takes much longer, but you will graduate with significant experience and perhaps a full-time job with that firm. Online courses can make a co-op program far easier to manage, as you can travel to distant worksites, if needed, then easily transition to school with the click of a mouse.
Though tuition rates will vary from school to school, a good estimate of tuition costs for a four-year degree for an in-state student at a public university would be approximately $30,000. This figure can double or even triple if you are attending from out-of-state. Some students who choose elite private schools in expensive metropolitan areas can expect their four-years to cost as much as $300,000.
While the $30,000 figure seems like a relative bargain, and it is, consider that you will have other expenses on top of that. Room, board, books, and other fees can push your per-year expenses up by at least $15,000, depending on rental rates and other factors.
If you wish to be a Civil Engineer, you should make sure that your chosen school has an Engineering department. Then, scrutinize that department to determine their actual focus. You should also look into what, if any, special focus areas are available. While an undergraduate degree in civil engineering is usually intended to be for general knowledge, you can always get a start on the work you'd like to complete in graduate school.
These days, students seldom graduate in four years. It is far more common to set the bar at six years for graduation. This might be attributed to rising costs of tuition or perhaps students these days would prefer to gather more experience in the working world prior to graduation. Nonetheless, government studies have shown that students in more-competitive schools or programs tend to graduate at higher rates, and faster, than students in non-competitive programs or universities. Since engineering tends to be more rigorous and competitive, you will probably see more of your peers graduating in a timely fashion.
If you wish to achieve the maximum success in your career as a Civil Engineer, you should seek out an undergraduate program that is ABET-accredited. State boards are more likely to acknowledge a degree that has been certified by ABET and thus you will have an easier time attaining licensure with your diploma. In fact, some state boards will only license engineers with ABET-accredited degrees. Even better, you can find a school with regional accreditation and programmatic ABET accreditation. This will mean that your major, engineering education and your general education courses will be of the highest quality.
Look for colleges that will support you in finding your first job after graduation. Ask your admissions adviser about any regular job fairs and what the engineering program's relationship is with engineering firms in the community or elsewhere. You might want to pursue a co-op program or an internship during your college years. Make sure the college or university is there to help you put your academic skills and knowledge to practical use.
It is vital to try to attend the highest-ranked college or university possible for your Civil Engineering degree. That is because employers will want to see that your degree is backed up by a reputation for excellence. You should at least seek out a Civil Engineering degree that is ABET-accredited. Without that accreditation it will be difficult, if not impossible, to earn a state license and become a project manager or even to attend a good graduate school. While rankings are probably not going to be your number 1 priority, if you find towards the end of the selection process, that there are a few schools you just can’t choose between, you might use national rankings as your tie breaker and give yourself the chance that the school you choose will be recognizable by your future interviewers.
When applying to colleges, make sure that you find an ABET-accredited program. This way you will be sure to qualify for state licensure, assuming you pass the required examinations and accrue appropriate hours in the field. It's also important to work towards an accredited degree in case you wish to attend graduate school later on. Even if you decide to switch your academic focus and work towards an MBA, your undergraduate degree from a top Engineering school will help you gain admission to any program you desire.