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Engineering Why do people look down at the Civil Engineering?

  1. Aug 30, 2010 #1
    Why do people look down at Civil Engineering?

    It seems like everywhere you look people are saying that Civil Engineering sucks and that they wish they went into business. Why is this?
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2010 #2


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    I don't know a single person who has said this.
  4. Aug 31, 2010 #3
    Nor me. Great job satisfaction. Child: "What job did you do grandad?" CE Grandad:"Helped build the channel tunnel." Lawyer or banker grandad: "Hey kid, let's play some softball..."
  5. Aug 31, 2010 #4
    Well it may have to do with the pay. Civil engineers usually get paid the least among most engineers with the same qualifications. Of course, there are expections to this.

    A lot of civils usually work for the government and we all know what that means :).

    The civils who make the big bucks are contractors or consultants.

    Besides, civil engineering is a bit more "dirty" than most engineering professions ( lol no one should grill me on this ! :) ).
    They usually have to get their hands dirty while visiting sites and the like. They usually spend a lot of time in the feild rather than the office ,behind closed doors .

    Of course, not ALL of them do this.
  6. Aug 31, 2010 #5


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    My dad is a retired CE. In the beginning of his career, he worked at Lockeed, where helped build the roads that big rockets roll out on. Then he worked for the State of Alaska building medical clinics in remote villages.

    Most educated people know how important infrastructure is - it's the bones of civilization. What can you do, without infrastructure? And it's built by CEs.
  7. Aug 31, 2010 #6
    There is just something about civil that does not sound cool.

    Consider the following:
    Son :" Dad what did you do at work today ?"
    CE dad : " I built a side walk"
    EE dad : " We built a robot at looks like a snake "

    Sorry, I am a bit biased; I am EE.

    Other engineers at my school make fun of civil and industrial engineers. I don't really know why though.
  8. Aug 31, 2010 #7
    Son: That's cool. But who needs a robot that looks like a snake?
  9. Aug 31, 2010 #8


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    Re: Why do people look down at Civil Engineering?

    Who are these ignoramus that you hang around with? I've never heard of anyone "looking down" on civil engineers!

    I hope there's a "Career Guidance" component to this thread, or it will be moved to the General Discussion forum.

  10. Aug 31, 2010 #9
    In my country, admission rates for civil engineering are the highest among all engineering branches. Most students prefer a different type of engineering, although the sallary here is almost the same for all of them.

    Last week, the New York Times published an article about how civil engineering was looked down in India. This time, it's money's fault. In that country, the civil is the least paid of engineering branches.
  11. Aug 31, 2010 #10
    In most countries it's the same story.
  12. Sep 4, 2010 #11
    I'm sorry. I just thought it was somewhat related. I've added a more career question at the bottom. :)

    Very true.

    I was just looking on Google. Normally I wouldn't believe anything that I found on Google but I kept looking and no one seemed to like it.

    OK. A lot of you are saying that CEs don't make a lot of money but when I look at the OOH the main difference is around $1000. Is the OOH correct?
  13. Sep 4, 2010 #12


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    What is the opposite of a civil engineer? Both are pretty cool, but I would hope we need the latter more than the former.
  14. Sep 4, 2010 #13
    A friend, who worked for a defense company, explained his job to his girlfriend whose brother was a civil engineer as "We build weapons. They build targets."
  15. Sep 4, 2010 #14
    No, it's built by construction workers. CEs design it and make sure it actually does what it's supposed to. We want our buildings to protect us from the elements, not fall down on us when we close the door too fast.

    If I had to guess why CEs were "looked down on", it would be because their finished products don't do anything. EEs make robots, cell phones, etc., MEs make all sorts of engines and vehicles, etc. A tunnel or bridge just doesn't have that same flashiness.
  16. Sep 4, 2010 #15
    None of y'all have anything on aerospace.

    Son: What do you do, dad?
    Dad: I build rockets.

    There's nothing wrong with civil, it's just much less glamorous. You build the stuff that everyone needs. If you stop existing, modern life stops existing.
  17. Sep 5, 2010 #16
    I suppose I could be called one of those ignoramuses that look down on civil engineers, but only purely in an academic sense. Obviously civil engineers do many important things that are used by billions of people every day. However, they are generally perceived (among me and most other science/engineering people I know) as being less "nerdy" and not as "intellectual" as those who study ME, EE, ChE, Physics, Math, etc. Sometimes they are looked at as glorified skilled laborers. Also, at my school, civil engineers are required to take a couple of science electives to satisfy the school's gen. ed. requirements because apparently CivEs don't take enough in their major program. All other engineering majors have enough science classes in their major curriculum to satisfy the requirement. Of course outside the academic environment, stable buildings and well organized highway systems are probably more useful on a day-to-day basis than proving String Theory.
  18. Sep 12, 2010 #17
    Which school do you go to ?
  19. Sep 12, 2010 #18
    Okay, first of all, some of the replies here are so immature. Like what is the deal with dad and son conversation. Nobody dedicates their dream to impress his son. Come on, can we not give a better answer.

    Also, it is normal thing for one engineering program to look down on others, it is an acadamical tradition, or social norm.

    Right now I am in CE, I just finished my 2nd year and going into internship, where I would be assisiting engineers to implement ligh rail transit in a city.

    I know what you mean by people looking down on civil. I think people look down because CE lacks of innovation. For example, in Korea, nobody likes CE because the coutry is very advanced and competitive in electronics (just ask how powerful is the founder of Samsung).

    People appreicate engineers when they use their technical knowledge to solve current problems which makes life efficient or better, or making a new product that is useful (just think of what Apple or Silicon Valley do).

    However, CE is very traditional, and it involves some dirty work as well, such as working in construction site (nobody thinks it is a good idea to work in construction site because some people on site are messed ip, like alchoholic or drugs...., and construction site is a dangerous place to be). In CE, there is no new invention other concrete or steels. To be honest, who is passionate about how concrete or steel will behave.

    However, I like the fact that CE is very focused in its field. Like there is no certain job in mechanical or industrial engineering; they are very broad.

    Also, many engineers say that they do not like their engineering field, but want go into business. Some ppl say that because the business ppl get to be manager or boss of engineers and engineers have to work their *** off to meet the demand in time.

    Or some ppl want to be business man because it involves more interaction with ppl.

    I am not going into a world of business and engineers and write an essay, maybe in a another topic. haha
  20. Sep 12, 2010 #19
    Which country are you from ?
  21. Sep 14, 2010 #20
    How many dads does this SON of yours have? One or two? :)
  22. Sep 15, 2010 #21
    It appears to me that Civil is the most popular engineering field to major in. Its the largest one at my school and many others.

    I also always get the impression that the general public, especially those outside of academia, associate engineering most strongly with what civil engineers do. I feel that people typically imagine construction, building and infrastructure when they hear the word engineer or if you tell them that you are and engineer.
  23. Nov 10, 2011 #22
    how about civil engineering technology ?
  24. Nov 10, 2011 #23
    People who major in this will very often end up in things like construction management. It's not really an engineering job but it pays well and the work is not incredibly hard. Although I'm sure the best of the best in this field do work on some interesting/large projects where they get to make some important decisions.

    Usually their job is to ensure the contractors are building according to the design while minimizing costs. Some civils actually end up doing this kind of work as well. Typically the course load is lighter, but unless you really know you don't care about doing design work, I'd advise against this degree and say go for CE instead.
  25. Nov 10, 2011 #24
    I dont what your saying is true. All I can say is job demand is down since building/construction industry isn't booming like before....

    Infact, my cousin is CE and is fully employed.
  26. Nov 10, 2011 #25


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    This old canard got dredged up again? Civil Engineering is quite important to all of us. If you drive on highways, cross bridges, or rely on flood-control measures to protect your property (to mention just a few) you are dependent on the engineering that produced those things. I don't know of any rational person that "looks down" on civil engineering.
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