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Where did all the civil engineers go?

Where did all the civil engineers go?

Where did all the civil engineers go?

I was searching the forums for threads on billable rates (found some good ones) and I ran across this gem:


I highly recommend reading through it, to refresh your memories of the Yay Days of 2006.  Quote of the top post:

"Though I am not myself a civil engineer I work with civil engineers.  I was talking to one this morning who is driving between two offices an hour apart to work on three projects!  I know there are those among you who have worked on more than that at one time so please don't regale me with your own tales of tribulation.  I see how hard it is on this guy.

According to this civil engineer there is a distinct shortage of civil engineers.  My question is, where are the civil engineers?  Why aren't college students electing CivE as a profession?"

What popped in my eye first was the date - 2006.  Right near the development peak.  

Where are all the civil engineers now?  Largely out of work, at least the entry level people, and I pity anyone coming out of school now with no experience looking for a job, they're as likely as not to just skip engineering as a profession entirely.  

The thread got me thinking quite a bit about the boom/bust cycle that AEC in general, and civil in particular, go through, and how it has a tendency to force many of us into other more stable lines of work about once a decade, creating another temporary shortage when the next work spike hits.  I know one civil PE who's working for the US Post Office.

Well I could use this as an opportunity to bitch and moan, which would be Standard Operating Procedure for many engineers I know, but instead I'd LIKE to view this as an opportunity.  Given past history with the construction market, and given the demographic trends in the USA, I expect development to hit another peak around 2015, and come completely crashing down, along with most of the rest of the economy, around 2018.


As a small business owner, what I can I do to not only protect myself from this, but profit from it?  Did any of you guys see the 2008 crash coming, and if so, were any of you able to spin your foresight into a profit?  Any ideas to prepare for the next economic black swan?


Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Where did all the civil engineers go?

I don't have the answers, but are you hiring?

RE: Where did all the civil engineers go?

I also know a PE who got stressed out with engineering work in the early '90s and went home to Upper Michigan and has been working in the Post Office ever since.  He seems to be very happy.

No answers here either - but when one checks out ASCE's Civil Engineer magazine job postings, month after month, you'll find 3 to 4 jobs for practicing engineers and 3 to 4 pages of jobs for academics.

Perhaps that offers a clue.


RE: Where did all the civil engineers go?

I thought shorting the markets would do me pretty well, but somehow that didn't quite work.  Saw the end coming around 2006 time period after looking to buy a condo/house and wondered how people could afford what was being sold.

It sounds like financing is finally coming back and we are racking up quite a bit of jobs to propose on.  But the projects are in some strange waiting pattern.  I have a feeling the Civils who left the field this go around will be done forever in this field.

I know if we get certain projects, that we would be looking to hire designers.

Civil Development Group, LLC
Los Angeles Civil Engineering specializing in Hillside Grading

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