Civil engineer starting his career

Hello, I am getting ready to graduate from an accredited undergraduate program with a degree in civil engineering.  I am getting increasingly worried about finding a career in that field.  I did a complete 180 in my 30's and I went back to school late in life, and at great expense, and now with all the doom and gloom that people are saying, I am worried I wasted my time.  Being first generation, I have no family connections in the industry.  I am about to be married, and children will certainly follow within a few years.  The catch is, I have to work in Houston.  My soon to be wife is just started her residency there.   Advice?
posted by Stephen on August 23, 2013

Answer by Dr. Kara Kockelman

Dear Stephen:

 

I am not sure what school you are graduating from or how strong a student you were (or how much tuition you invested!), but civil engineering is a wonderful profession that weathers most any economic storm. Civil engineering contributions are so basic to society, that local, regional and global communities cannot do without such talent. Thus, hiring in our industry probably never ceases.

I have not heard of any slow-down in hiring recently. (I work in transportation engineering, but I imagine construction engineering and structural engineering design opportunities slowed down, along with most hiring [in any discipline], a few years ago.) Texas is also a great place to be looking, and Houston, with its tremendous population, will have more CE options than almost any other U.S. region.

As a more mature (re-entry) student, you probably will have even better prospects, everything else constant. (Maturity counts for a lot, in my experience!) I hope you attended a public university, where great civil engineering educations happen and students regularly graduate without any debt. I would not worry about “connections”. (I have seen none of that in our industry, thank goodness. Engineers tend to offer positions based on very fair competition, in my experience.)

Congratulations to you & your wife! (It sounds like you have a doctor in the family. What a nice combination of talents in a single household.)

Dr. Kockelman