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Distance Learning Civil Engineering - Learn to Design a Better World, the Online Way

Aug 17, 2007
With a healthy employment outlook for the next 10 years, it is no wonder that distance learning civil engineering is offered by numerous Universities, Polytechnic Institutes, and Colleges, across the country. Civil Engineering is the oldest form of engineering. And Civil Engineering has never ceased to be the largest engineering endeaver as well. Even to this day, with 237,000 civil engineers on duty, it is America's largest engineering branch that accounts for 16.4% of all engineering jobs in the country.

What it Involves

Distance learning civil engineering involves taking either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Master of Science (M.S.), in Civil Engineering through the online or distance mode. M.S. in specializations like Structural Engineering, Construction Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Transportation Engineering, and Hydraulic Engineering, are also available through distance learning civil engineering.

Though 2-year Associate Degrees are also available, it is only as a bridge to a B.S. Degree, since a Bachelor's is the minimum entry-level requirement for the industry. However, an Associate Degree in Civil Engineering Technology is acceptable for the career of Civil Engineering Technician.

In the USA, Professional Engineer (PE) license from State Licensing Boards is needed by Civil Engineers if they want to play a role in infrastructure work affecting the public, and the training for the two PE exams, 'Fundamentals of Engineering' and 'Principles and Practice', are also available through distance learning civil engineering.

Compared with the B.S. degree, there is both more demand as well as options for the M.S. Degree through distance learning civil engineering. The main reason for this is the industry's increasing demand for specialized civil engineers like Structural or Environmental Engineers. It is also driven by a recent recommendation of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to the US State Licensing Boards that the minimum educational qualification for Professional Engineer (PE) license be upgraded from the current Bachelor's to a Masters level.

Why Civil Engineering?

Unlike many engineering branches, the demand for Civil Engineering has a direct relation with population growth. In fact, this is why Civil Engineering continues to be the largest engineering branch in terms of employment, compared with equally conventional branches like Mechanical Engineering or modern branches like Computer Science, which is mainly due to this direct relation with population growth. More people mean more apartments, and more people also eventually lead to a larger employee pool - thereby increasing both residential and commercial construction.

The demand for Civil Engineering also has a direct correlation with economic growth. This is because, periods of economic slowdown will leave no funds for infrastructure development, while periods of economic growth will provide surplus funds that will be gobbled up in no time by the pending infrastructure needs. In the coming years and decades, economic slowdowns will be better predicted, if not avoided, thanks to the better interventional strategies by institutions like the Federal Reserve. This will leave funds ever available for infrastructure development, and will generate steady demand for Civil Engineers in the coming years.

Most Civil Engineering projects like roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, railway lines, airports, seaports, water supplies, sewage systems, buildings, etc. are also heavy on maintenance and repair, and such regular work contributes to the great demand for Civil Engineers. The need for high-speed, highly-safe mass transportation systems like underground or undersea railways is another major driver for the advancement of Civil Engineering.

Civil Engineering of today is also a professionally satisfying career, with good salaries and technologically updated work. Though average salaries of Civil Engineers are not very high, many of them draw as much as US $95,000 and none of them draw below US $43,500. They also get to work in high-tech areas like earthquake-resistant designs, and make heavy use of tools like Computer Aided Design / Engineering (CAD/CAE).

Why Distance Learning Civil Engineering?

Almost all online or distance courses in any branch of engineering would require work in the industry to meet coursework requirements, as coursework in on-campus labs is not possible. Civil Engineering has the greatest advantage on this front as civil work is abundant everywhere, and this is the main reason why so many Universities and Colleges offer distance learning civil engineering.

It is the best option for technicians, surveyors, and other junior technical staff working in the industry, who want to upgrade themselves to the status of an engineer. Indeed, the majority of those going for a B.S. degree through distance learning civil engineering, are already working in the industry. Practicing Civil Engineers already having a Bachelor's Degree, also find this the best option, as there is professional pressure on them to specialize further in the field, without upsetting their regular work.

When a Civil Engineer grows from an employee to a Consultant, the Professional Engineer (PE) license will become increasingly important. It is widely expected that soon an M.S. in Civil Engineering would become the minimum educational qualification needed for this, and distance learning civil engineering is the best option for this.

What to Expect From Distance Learning Civil Engineering, in the Future?

As of today, the number of M.S. Degrees in General Civil Engineering is much more than M.S. in the Civil Engineering specializations like Structural, Construction, Environmental, Geotechnical, Transportation, or Hydraulic. However, this scenario will rapidly change, reflecting the increased demand for specialized Civil Engineers. The result will be that Distance Learning Civil Engineering will be offered by more institutions, and that it will be offered with more majors and specializations.
About the Author
Jim Zorn is web master of the Guide to Distance Learning. Please visit to learn more about online colleges and universities, distance learning degrees, majors and courses offered.
http://www.guide-to-distance-learning.com/index.html
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