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What civil engineering travels most?

  1. Mar 19, 2012 #1
    Hi, I'm about to graduate with a BS in Civil Engineering and wanted to find the right career path. What job/career path/company would allow me to travel the most? Temporary field work around the world or being relocated for extended periods of time (as long as its not for too long) would be ideal for me, but I don't know where to start looking for jobs like that. Any kind of input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2012 #2
    I worked in bridge inspection for about 5 years. In that time I visited about 25 states, and Japan. Normal trips were 2 weeks in length, and then 2 weeks at home. Everything has its good and bad points. Still have friend working in it, that have traveled even more. Others who never leave the home state, and rarely spend a night away from home.
  4. Mar 19, 2012 #3


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    quoopy, Welcome to Physics Forums!

    Your question is "right up my alley". I am a retired Senior Field Engineer. I have lived and worked in twelve different countries totaling more than thirty years. Also I have visited more than sixty-five countries. (A friend of mine calls me a "compulsive note-taker" because I have a list of over three-hundred fifty commercial flights I’ve taken.)

    Nearly all of this international living and work was as a Field Engineer for some company on a "service or support contract" supporting the customer using my company's product(s). Most were for defense-related products (radars, missiles, and sonar), so my customers were usually foreign military; in my case, usually Air Forces and Navies. I have also served in this capacity with the USN, USMC, and USAF. The common term for this job is “tech rep”.

    So, if you are serious about doing this kind of work, I suggest you do your homework: research and identify those companies that produce complex systems that require on-site factory support and that export those systems to foreign nations. You will be expected to learn every aspect of installation, operation, and maintenance of the system. As the on-site representative you are responsible for giving formal training courses, providing constant on-the-job-training, recommending modifications, installing approved modifications, giving feedback to correct errors in technical manuals, and being the liaison between all customer support issues and your company's engineering department.

    Personally you need to be adaptable and flexible. When you live in another culture you give up your familiar comforts and friends. You must learn how to get your personal needs satisfied within the cultural limitations. Your position is partly an ambassador from our country, so your behavior is always on display. It is not your job to evaluate the customs of another culture. Even if you personally disagree with a social norm, for example, the treatment of women, it is not for you to judge the correctness of native customs.

    If you do your company research properly you may even select the product you’d like to work with. Then you may walk into the interview and simply say, "Here I am, ready to contribute my services "in the field" for the company's profit." Good luck.

    p.s.: aircraft manufacturers always need Field Engineers
  5. Mar 20, 2012 #4

    Thanks for the input! I have read into bridge inspection and it did interest me, but what entry level job should I look for to get into it? And at what type of company (e.g. construction firms, design firms, government, big or small firms)? Do you get to help out on constructing bridge projects as well?


    Thanks for the great response! This is exactly the kind of thing I want to be doing. I will definitely look into it, but it seems that type of field work would be more mechanical engineering oriented. Would aircraft manufacturers or the company you worked for even consider civil engineering graduates? If so, where do I even start to look for these companies that create and export complex systems? Sorry for the questions, this really does interest me, but they never covered this topic in my civil engineering classes haha.
  6. Mar 20, 2012 #5


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  7. Mar 20, 2012 #6
    I worked for a small company 13 when I joined around 50 when I left. Check the trade publications. Like Road and Bridge for bridge work. Normally inspection work is done by bridge design, or sometimes strictly inspection companies. Depending on your state you might be able to see what jobs the local DOT has, and perhaps who is on their list for bids.

    It is true working for larger companies often can get you out of the country and even for US gov. related work, or otherwise.

    In many cases not many people want to travel or leave the country, not after they have a family of their own at home. So, it is a young (single) persons job often.

    Also, look at ENR, they have a top engineering firms to work for issue every year.
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