How Hard Is Civil Engineering? - Online Schools Report (2023)

You’ve decided to take the next step and attend college. Finding the right major can be difficult, as your options are seemingly unlimited.

But after lots of searching, you have landed on civil engineering. It interests you and seems like a steady career with high earning potential.

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But one thing is holding you back: how challenging will it be to get your degree?

In this article, we will take a look at the different factors that go into determining how difficult it is to earn a civil engineering degree and if it’s even worth it.

See Also:How Hard is it to Get a Job in Computer Science?

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What Is a Civil Engineer?

Simply put, a civil engineer designs, builds, and maintains public works and infrastructure. In this career, your days will be split between maintaining the local dam, designing a new bridge, or overseeing the construction of a new public building.

Related: What is Civil Engineering Technology?

Does a Civil Engineer Need a Degree?

Simply put, yes, all civil engineers need to go to school and earn an engineering degree. While the majority of civil engineers earn only a bachelor’s degree, there are many who go on to earn a master’s or even doctoral degree as well.

The courses you will be taking at university include advanced math, physics, and, of course, engineering. That said, if you find high school level math and science courses difficult, then you will need to work extra hard in college to pass. While earning a civil engineering or mechanical engineering degree isn’t impossible, you will have to work hard and make sacrifices to get it.

Is Civil Engineering Hard, Stressful, or Both?

How Hard Is Civil Engineering? - Online Schools Report (1)

(Video) Reality Of Civil Engineer 💯

Civil engineering is relatively hard. Consider the amount of work-related skills needed to succeed in this profession.

  • Communication and writing
  • Advanced math, physics, engineering
  • Problem-solving
  • At least a four-year degree

Additionally, since practical experience is valued so highly in this field, you might also have to spend your summers interning just to get your foot in the door. These internships can be hard and stressful, as you are pushed out of your comfort zone and forced to apply your newly acquired knowledge to real-life situations.

Many engineers find themselves a member or head of a team, meaning that being able to handle interpersonal conflict is crucial to success. So be prepared to deal with problems from both your physical work to your personal relationships.

While engineering might be hard, it is not impossible. Much of what you do will take work, but it is no doubt possible.

Will I Need Extra Training?

Any additional training depends on the route you take as an engineer.

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If you choose to be an independent contractor and sell your services, you will need a license. This license allows you to be in control of a project and supervise civil engineers. To get this license, you will first need a degree given by an ABET-accredited program.

No matter the route you take, it is highly recommended that you continually conduct on the job training. As technology advances and new techniques are invented, you will want to make sure you stay abreast of the field.

What Are the Must-Have Skills?

How Hard Is Civil Engineering? - Online Schools Report (2)

Many employers were asked to rank the top five skills they found most important in their civil engineers. If you want to be in engineering, focus on growing these five skills.


As an engineer, you will need to have a deep understanding of various math concepts. In college, you will study calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, trigonometry, and more. If you are considering this degree but highly disliked your math courses in high school, then at least be aware of what awaits you in this field.

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Clear Communication

A civil engineer usually works as a part of a team and sometimes even takes on leadership roles. Therefore, you must be able to clearly communicate complex ideas and technical plans to your colleagues and clients.

While most engineers are left-brain thinkers, speaking eloquently and creatively can be a developed skill. Take the time to practice your presentations and craft arguments that match your audience. Having a plan in place will help you become more confident in the boardroom and out in the field.

Reading Comprehension

Being able to absorb textbook knowledge is crucial for both academic and career success. On the job, you will spend your time designing a solution for a presented problem. Determining the problem will be your first step, and that is where reading comprehension comes in. If you don’t understand the project or concept, you will never be able to implement a viable solution.

To improve your reading skills, focus on expanding your vocabulary as well as improving your reading comprehension. Subscribe to reputable journals in the field and make sure you are reading relevant articles that can help familiarize you with important industry jargon and concepts.

Active Listening

Active listening is important for hearing your client and your team members. Through carefully listening to their suggestions, you can design a plan that fits the project’s needs. Active listening involves fully concentrating on the speaker, understanding what they are saying, and responding to them. You know you’re actively listening when:

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  • You ask specific questions
  • Demonstrate concern
  • Use brief verbal affirmations
  • Build trust

At first, this may be hard, but with practice you can grow stronger in this area. Give the speaker your undivided attention and show that you’re listening by repeating what they are saying and providing feedback to each of their points.

Critical Thinking

This is considered by many the most important skill for any civil engineer. This simply means that you can make logical and informed decisions. Can you take hard theoretical concepts and apply them to everyday situations? Can you tackle nuanced subjects and understand them from multiple perspectives?

If you find critical thinking difficult, practice asking in-depth questions and analyzing complex topics. The more thought-provoking questions you ask and research, the smarter your brain becomes. You will find that many school courses help you think deeper about a variety of subjects. Applying physics to a mechanical engineering problem will require your brain to break down complex concepts.


How Hard Is Civil Engineering? - Online Schools Report? ›

Online engineering degrees can be challenging for students, particularly those with math and science difficulties. These programs include extensive projects, rigorous study requirements, and demanding math courses. The greatest challenges usually come in the early years of the program.

How hard is an online engineering degree? ›

Online engineering degrees can be challenging for students, particularly those with math and science difficulties. These programs include extensive projects, rigorous study requirements, and demanding math courses. The greatest challenges usually come in the early years of the program.

Is civil engineering school hard? ›

Civil engineering is relatively hard. Consider the amount of work-related skills needed to succeed in this profession. Additionally, since practical experience is valued so highly in this field, you might also have to spend your summers interning just to get your foot in the door.

What is a good GPA for civil engineering? ›

What is a Good GPA for Civil Engineering? If you're majoring in civil engineering, then you probably know it's a challenging program. Fortunately, that means you only need a 2.9 – 3.0 for a good GPA. If you get above that 3.0 mark, your average would be considered high, so you'd be in a good position for the future.

Are online engineering degrees respected? ›

Online engineering degrees — much like most disciplines where a candidate has received their degree online — are respected by employers. In a survey, a whopping 83 percent of employers feel that online degrees offer a quality education on par with a more traditional, campus-based experience.

Are online engineering degrees legit? ›

Yes, there are some engineering degrees that you can earn 100% online. Common branches of engineering for fully online study include electrical and computer engineering. Other engineering disciplines, such as petroleum and aerospace engineering, may have some in-person requirements.

Is civil engineering a lot of math? ›

Physics equations typically use a combination of algebra, calculus and trigonometry. Math is a really important part of a civil engineer's job.

Is civil engineering a stressful major? ›

Civil engineering is an exciting but stressful job. But if you're passionate about your job, in most instances, the stress becomes manageable. Luckily, there are many strategies you can apply to reduce your stress level.

Is it worth it to be a civil engineer? ›

For those with strong critical thinking skills and a desire to find efficiencies in their work, civil engineering can be a worthy career choice. If you're someone who likes puzzles or building things out of materials, you might enjoy some of the practical applications of this branch of engineering.

What is the easiest engineering major? ›

Easiest Engineering Majors
  • Environmental Engineering. Environmental engineers are focused on developing machines and structures that will cause minimal harm to the environment. ...
  • Industrial Engineering. ...
  • Architectural Engineering.
Mar 7, 2023

What is the hardest math for civil engineering? ›

Differential equations is one of the most challenging math courses that you will take when pursuing a civil engineering degree. Many students struggle to do well in the course since the topics are often abstract and difficult to understand.

Is civil engineering harder than architecture? ›

Architecture generally demands longer hours and more time devoted to a project but civil engineering is by far more technically complex with more complicated problems.

Do grades matter in civil engineering? ›

You don't need any specific grades to become a civil engineer. However, you do need to graduate with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. In addition, a graduate degree is typically necessary to get promoted or hired to senior positions in which you would manage other civil engineers.

Is a 3.5 GPA bad engineering? ›

A 3.5 and above is considered a great GPA for engineering students. It shows that you get mostly A's in all of your classes. Occasionally, companies will require a 3.5 GPA or above for internships. But this is very rare.

Do engineering jobs care about GPA? ›

GPA matters, however, when applying for a job in competitive fields such as law, engineering, finance, and computer science. A stellar GPA can help you get to round one of the interviews because hiring managers often use them to screen potential candidates.

What do employers think of online engineering degrees? ›

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 92 percent of employers view online degrees from brick-and-mortar schools as favorable, while only 42 percent would consider a candidate with an online degree from a university that operates solely online, despite any accreditation.

What is the easiest online engineering degree? ›

Software Engineering

Time to graduate – Students can complete this program in less than four years as long as they complete all the required courses. What makes it easier – The online format is what makes this program the easiest. They can take as little or as much time as required to complete the program.

Are online degrees harder? ›

Are Online Classes Harder in College? Because online classes cover the same or similar material, typically in the same amount of time as traditional classes, they are not harder. The only thing that can make an online class seem harder is the amount of reading and communication they require.

How does an online degree look on a resume? ›

Strategy 2: Omit the “Online” descriptor on your resume.

These students simply list the name of the university or school they attended, omitting the term “online” from the education section of the resume. Using this strategy can help you bypass the issues you may face as a graduate of an online degree program.

What is the quickest engineering degree? ›

Fastest Online Engineering Degrees: The Basics
Degree TitleSchoolRequired Time
Master of Engineering ManagementArkansas State University1 year
Master of Science in Engineering ManagementTrine University1 year
Master of Science in Engineering, Mechanical Engineering SpecializationUniversity of California-Riverside13 months
7 more rows
Jul 29, 2022

Do online degrees have value? ›

Contrary to popular belief, online programs are not easier than on-campus programs. Online programs aren't necessarily more affordable, but they can be. Just like degrees earned on campus, online degrees are widely respected by employers.

Can you be an engineer if you are bad at math? ›

Granted, a small percentage of graduate engineers will work in a R&D setting that will require high level math. However, the reality is that the vast majority of engineers that graduate will work in industry. If you look at what they do, day in and day out, you will find that they need to be very good at algebra.

Is there a lot of calculus in civil engineering? ›

Most civil engineering programs require calculus 1 and calculus 2, while some also require students take calculus 3. Calculus 1 is a prerequisite for most civil engineering courses and so it is generally taken in the first semester, with calculus 2 taken the next.

Does civil engineering require coding? ›

If you are looking toward getting into civil engineering, you will need to learn how to program in C and C++.

Is civil engineering a risky job? ›

Often, civil engineers are at risk of being hit by oncoming forklifts, excavators, backhoes, cranes, and other forms of moving equipment.

Why do civil engineers get paid less? ›

A civil engineer can be compared to a barrel of wine, more the experience, better the value. Another major factor of why civil freshers are underpaid, is the size of the project and the number of people involved in it. A typical construction project involves at least 40-50 employees and 250+ laborers.

Is civil engineering a stable career? ›

Civil engineering is a field that is in high demand, with continued projected job growth. There will be plenty of job opportunities for civil engineers in the future, making it a stable and secure career choice. It's also a field that requires a combination of technical skills and creativity.

Do civil engineers live comfortably? ›

Yes, civil engineering is a good career.

On average, the salary range for civil engineers is $60,000-$130,000. There are some civil engineers that make even more than this. This salary is a high salary, and it allows many civil engineers to live comfortable lives.

Are civil engineers respected? ›

That's right, many people regard civil engineers with a high level of respect. They hold them in high regard, and for good reason. Civil engineers are in high demand all over the world.

Do civil engineers need masters? ›

Civil Engineer

A master's degree or higher is generally required for leadership or senior positions. Civil engineers need to be licensed, with requirements varying by state.

Why do so many engineers drop out? ›

Many high school graduates lack any real experience with failure. An overwhelming percentage of engineering drop-outs do so because they either lack academic success or can no longer see themselves being successful. Their fear of failure is enough to convince them to give up.

What is the lowest paid engineer? ›

The Lowest Paying: Environmental, Geological, Civil, and Biological Engineering.

What are the top 5 hardest engineering degree? ›

5 Hardest Engineering Majors
  • Chemical Engineering.
  • Aerospace Engineering.
  • Biomedical Engineering.
  • Electrical Engineering.
  • Computer Engineering.
Dec 22, 2022

How much math do civil engineers actually use? ›

Civil engineers typically only use algebraic equations, but these equations are sometimes derived using various forms of calculous and differential equations. An example of this related to civil engineering is with Bernoulli's equation.

Do civil engineers do math all day? ›

A civil engineer uses nearly every form of math at one point in time to do her job. Algebra is used on a daily basis, and many engineers will have to deal with differential equations, statistics, and calculus occasionally.

Do civil engineers need to be good at drawing? ›

Civil engineers must be able to visualise and create maps, blueprints, drawings, models and CAD software. They need to have a strong visual eye to identify what would make a project structurally stronger in terms of both design and function.

Can a civil engineer design a house? ›

CIVIL ENGINEERS may design any building of any type EXCEPT public schools and hospitals.

Which engineering has highest salary? ›

Top 10 Highest Paying Engineering Jobs of 2022
  • Systems Engineer. ...
  • Electrical Engineer. ...
  • Chemical Engineer. ...
  • Big Data Engineer. ...
  • Nuclear Engineer. ...
  • Aerospace Engineer. ...
  • Computer Hardware Engineer. ...
  • Petroleum Engineer.
Mar 24, 2023

What is the hardest engineering course? ›

What Is the Hardest Engineering Major?
Top 3 Hardest Engineering MajorsTop 3 Easiest Engineering Majors
1. Chemical engineering (19.66 hours)1. Industrial engineering (15.68 hours)
2. Aero and astronautical engineering (19.24 hours)2. Computer engineering and technology (16.46 hours)
1 more row

What is considered a bad engineering GPA? ›

Employers that value students who earn perfect or nearly perfect grades use students' GPAs to determine whether they are qualified for an engineering job. Virginia Tech suggests reporting a GPA above 3.0, but, with companies that want only graduates with an exemplary student record, a GPA lower than 3.5 may hurt.

Is a 2.8 engineering GPA bad? ›

A 2.8 GPA is just below the national average. Most colleges and universities look for a GPA of at least 3.0 on your application.

Can I be good at civil engineering if I m not good at math? ›

Do you need to be good at mathematics to become an engineer? The answer is a resounding “yes”. Engineering is based around problem solving which needs maths.

Which major has the lowest GPA? ›

Science majors tend to have lower GPAs on average, with chemistry being the major with the lowest average GPA. Meanwhile, education majors earn the highest GPAs on average.

How good is a 3.7 GPA in engineering? ›

A 3.7 GPA is equivalent to 92% or an A- letter grade. The national average GPA is 3.0 which means a 3.7 is well above average. A 3.7 GPA can be hard to raise as it's already so high, but if you're really determined you can make it happen.

Is a 3.12 GPA good in college? ›

The average college GPA is a 3.1 – or B average. This number has increased over time because of grade inflation. So, if your GPA is higher than that number, it could be beneficial to include on your resume as means to set you apart from the competition.

Should I put 3.4 GPA on resume? ›

Should I Put My GPA on My Resume? In finance, if your Grade Point Average (GPA) is 3.5 or higher, then you should include it on your resume — otherwise, leave it out. If your major GPA is higher than your overall GPA, then you should include that as well (or instead of your overall GPA).

Is a 3.0 GPA good in college engineering? ›

That's considered average at most universities. Engineering is a tough major and usually they take more classes than the average student. So low GPA's are very common among engineering majors. Because of this, engineers tend to be quite proud of their achievements after graduating, and I do believe it's well deserved.

How hard is it to maintain a 3.0 GPA in engineering? ›

Well, in most engineering departments 3.0 is pretty close to the 50th percentile, so about half the students manage to do it. There are a few departments where it might be down to 35-40% making 3.0, but those are the exception, not the rule.

How difficult is getting an engineering degree? ›

However, achieving an engineering degree is no easy task. It requires a lot of technical prowess, a robust foundation in mathematics and science, and a strong work ethic to tackle the challenging curriculum. That being said, not all engineering majors are created equal. Some engineering majors are easier than others.

What is the shortest engineering degree? ›

Engineering Associate's Degrees

An associate's degree is the shortest degree you could earn in engineering. When you enroll in an associate's degree program, it is possible to earn an engineering degree in just two years.

Is it harder to get a job with an online degree? ›

Online colleges are becoming more popular, but prospective students may still worry about their credibility. We're here to set the record straight: An online degree holds just as much weight as a traditional degree. In fact, data shows that most employers don't even differentiate between the two types of degrees.

Is online college harder? ›

Are Online Classes Harder in College? Because online classes cover the same or similar material, typically in the same amount of time as traditional classes, they are not harder. The only thing that can make an online class seem harder is the amount of reading and communication they require.

Do employers consider online certificates? ›

Do employers accept online degrees? In general, employers should treat an online degree the same as they would a campus-based degree. Most employers care far more about the quality of the school than the delivery format of the degree.

What is the fastest civil engineering degree? ›

The fastest online engineering degree is the Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering from the University of New Mexico. This program can be completed in one year instead of two, through eight-week courses.

Which engineering degree is hardest? ›

What Is the Hardest Engineering Major?
Top 3 Hardest Engineering MajorsTop 3 Easiest Engineering Majors
1. Chemical engineering (19.66 hours)1. Industrial engineering (15.68 hours)
2. Aero and astronautical engineering (19.24 hours)2. Computer engineering and technology (16.46 hours)
1 more row

Is engineering one of the hardest degrees? ›

Is Engineering Hard? Engineering is one of the hardest college majors because it covers a broad range of challenging subjects, including mathematics, the sciences, and technology. There are six main branches of engineering: Mechanical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Management, and Geotechnical.

Is civil engineering the easiest engineering major? ›

The Classic Argument for Ranking Engineering Disciplines

Civil engineering is easiest because everyone has been exposed to buildings, bridges, etc since birth. Thinking about these, understanding the theory, and designing them therefore isn't too difficult, since the intuition is already there.

Is 25 too late to start engineering? ›

Luckily, there are many possible university programs to choose from all with various schedules to fit your needs. Although the majority of students in an engineering program will be in their 20s or 30s, it's not uncommon for adults to get an engineering degree later in life.

How many years does it take to be a civil engineer? ›

Undergraduate civil engineering degrees will typically be three or four years in length and will feature a mixture of lectures and lab work. There will also be an emphasis on working within a team, as this is considered a key skill for anyone pursuing civil engineering careers.


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