Construction Engineering Degrees: Associate's, Bachelor's & Online Program Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in construction engineering? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and construction engineering training programs.
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Studying Construction Engineering: Degrees at a Glance

Construction engineering professionals perform a range of tasks important to the development of residential, industrial and infrastructure projects. People in the field pursue work in a variety of positions in construction planning, estimation, surveying and project management, to name a few. Employment opportunities exist in government, contracting and private firm settings. In addition, people in the industry work in a structural, transportation or public utilities capacity. Many employers prefer candidates with a degree from an ABET-accredited program.

The associate's degree program can prepare you for assistant management opportunities in building technology. The bachelor's degree program offers an educational foundation that can lead to a career in civil engineering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports average through faster-than-average job growth for several careers in the field. Civil engineering technicians would see 12% job growth from 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). Civil engineers could expect 19% job growth, while surveyors were expected to see 25% job growth.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level positions in the construction or civil engineering fields People interested in construction management or civil engineering careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Civil engineering technician ($48,000)*
- Construction manager ($94,000)*
- Surveyor ($59,000)*
- Civil engineer ($83,000)*
Time to Completion Two years full-time Four years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements Roughly 60 creditsRoughly 120 credits
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degrees in Construction Engineering

The associate's degree program offers a foundation in construction management principles, construction technologies and business management. Schools structure programs to deliver a strong emphasis in mathematics, physics and structural analysis. Some programs offer preparation for industry-standard certifications, such as the Field Inspector of Fresh Concrete offered by the American Concrete Institute. Some schools offer small classroom sizes to provide access to one-on-one mentoring opportunities. Keep in mind that a strong background in geometry and algebra might make a difference in how quickly you complete the program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Construction managers earned a competitive mean annual salary of $94,000*
  • Programs offer small classroom sizes to accommodate one-on-one mentoring
  • Transferring to a bachelor's degree program is an option should you decide to continue your education

Cons

  • State and local government funding might influence the availability of some positions
  • Competition against bachelor's degree holders might present a challenge for some opportunities
  • The economy might have an influence on the availability of positions in the future

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree program delivers training in the business and practical components of construction management. Beyond construction concepts and design principles, programs provide an education in technical drawing and communications. Many schools offer students access to laboratory settings to perform materials testing and other project related tasks. Following are some common courses offered by the programs:

  • Basic surveying
  • Technical mathematics
  • Building construction
  • Material strength
  • Civil drafting
  • Structural analysis
  • Structural steel design

Online Degree Info

Locating an ABET-accredited distance-education program might prove difficult. ABET only accredited one online bachelor's degree program in November 2012. If you locate online options, keep in mind that the program's accreditation can play a significant role in your ability to pursue certification.

Stand Out with This Degree

Experience and certification influence access to many positions in the industry. The amount of experience you have might also play a role in pursuing the appropriate certification. Consider pursuing a range of internships and seeking entry-level positions in the industry. The Certified Construction Manager (CCM) credential offered by the Construction Management Association of America requires a minimum of four years of experience. The certification validates your experience and understanding of project and cost management, contract administration and professional practice, among other areas. The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies offers industry-standard certification for civil engineering technicians in a range of professional capacities.

Bachelor's in Construction Engineering

The bachelor's degree program delivers advanced coursework and the opportunity to specialize through concentrations. Programs emphasize the development of skills in analysis, cost estimation, project management and technology in civil or construction engineering settings. Programs deliver the knowledge required to perform in a range of positions responsible for handling materials, equipment and the planning process for major construction projects. Some schools require a fieldwork component that exposes students to the responsibilities often associated with technician positions.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Civil engineers earned a competitive mean annual salary of $83,000*
  • Surveyors could expect a 25% increase in jobs**
  • Aging infrastructure systems will make civil and construction engineering jobs available

Cons

  • The financial position of local economies contributes to a fluctuation in the availability of positions
  • Programs might not deliver the training required to understand technological changes in the industry
  • Pursuing licensing or certification will require a career-long financial commitment

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 projections).

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program delivers a range of courses similar to those offered by the associate's degree program, although many are advanced. Lower-division courses emphasize the basics of construction engineering, surveying and mapping, materials and mechanics. Upper-division coursework generally consists of advanced classes that require a range of prerequisites in mathematics and the sciences. You can expect to take courses in structural analysis, laboratory techniques, analytical mechanics, probability and statistics, traffic engineering, estimating and construction planning.

Online Degree Info

The online bachelor's degree program delivers courses similar to traditional options. Keep in mind that the ABET only accredited one program in November 2012. Other online programs might not provide the education required for industry-standard certification. In addition, some states require that candidates for specific positions, such as surveyor, possess a degree from an ABET-accredited program.

Stand Out with This Degree

Experience and licensing influence access to employment opportunities. Pursuing a number of internships, fieldwork programs or cooperative education openings can help you gain entry-level experience. Surveyors must complete the requirements established by their state and the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) offers several examinations that lead to licensing. Civil engineers also complete a licensing process if they offer their services to the public, control engineering projects or supervise other personnel. Civil engineers take the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination, provided by the NCEES, and complete additional exams to become Civil Engineering Professionals.

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