Is Civil Engineering Hard? (11 Things You Can Expect)

Civil engineering is one of the hardest majors because it has many things happening simultaneously. In this major, you must understand the courses and the industry from 

  • science, mathematics, laboratories courses to economics, and design courses
  • construction to maintenance and repair,
  • work with suppliers and contractors.

Laying the groundwork for success at any of these things takes commitment and perseverance. So let us take a deeper look at this course!

Is Civil Engineering Hard? 

Civil Engineering is one of the most difficult bachelor’s degree programs because it requires broad knowledge covering multiple facets of science, mathematics, and technology. Additionally, you will need practical knowledge and experience in social sciences, design, and management. However, a bachelor’s degree program will provide you with a solid foundation on this path. Lastly, passing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination will improve your credentials!

If you are interested in pursuing this field of study, we have 11 things you must consider! So tune in!

1. Understanding Civil Engineering

As one of the earliest subdisciplines of engineering, civil engineering concentrates on 

  • Construction management
  • Environmental engineering, 
  • Geotechnical engineering, 
  • Structural engineering, 
  • Surveying
  • Transportation engineering, and 
  • Hydraulic and water resources engineering. 

Hence, this is often referred to as the “Mother of all Engineering Branches.”

Civil engineers specialize in construction and organize, build, analyze, estimate, and assess critical infrastructure projects, such as national transport networks, sewerage systems, and structures.

Overall, the Civil Engineering (CE) course helps students build analytical, collaborative, and technical skills to handle future civil technical challenges.

2. Difficult Degree

A degree in civil engineering is problematic because it necessitates a significant amount of math and science, including,

  • Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Geology
  • Algebra, Statistics, Calculus, and Differential Equations.

Additionally, you will learn various engineering, humanities, and social science subjects and must demonstrate understanding and competence. 

Students must pass all the tricky, complicated, and frustrating exams to succeed in this discipline.

Furthermore, civil engineering programs have a lot of coursework and work value.

On the bright side, students can expect a wide range of job prospects following graduation because society will always require these professionals. 

For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of jobs for civil engineers will grow by 7% annually this decade, with over 24,000 new jobs added yearly. 

Overall, a civil engineering degree is worth pursuing because of the respect, employment opportunities, growing salaries, and benefits.

3. Qualifications in Civil Engineering

Generally, those who wish to become civil engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, civil and structural technology, or a closely related discipline. Choose a school with ABET accreditation.

After earning your degree in this field, you can take the Fundamentals of Engineering examination.

For civil engineers who wish to become even more skilled and land a senior-level job, a master’s degree would be critical. At the same time, a doctoral degree could lead to the path of high-level advisory and consulting, research and teaching. 

Candidates must complete a substantial original research study and pass the exams as part of the academic requirements.

Learn more: Do engineers make good money?

4. Prerequisites and Experience

When deciding to take this major, students should participate in as many math and science classes as possible.

Furthermore, the standard prerequisites for admission typically include a point average of A or B in all science and mathematical subjects

A particular ACT or SAT score may also be necessary for some universities.

Some students may also need to spend their summer internships because this industry highly values practical knowledge and experience.

As you can see, students must learn how to apply principles and formulas in real-life situations.

5. Licensure and Certification Exams

Civil engineers must pass a series of examinations to obtain the necessary licensing.

Here is a list of a few certificates and exams such as:

Above all, students must commit the time to study and be equipped for these examinations because CE graduates must have permits in all states to practice effectively.

6. Overwhelming Curriculum and Coursework

Overwhelming Curriculum and Coursework

In a civil engineering degree, you must study an overwhelming amount of knowledge and materials.

The following subjects constitute the majority of the curriculum for civil engineering schoolwork:

  • Civil Engineering Technical Electives
  • Senior Design Principles
  • Hydraulic Engineering
  • Design and Behavior of Steel Structures
  • Environmental Engineering Concepts

Students should also master software related to this field, including: 

  • Autocad Civil 3d
  • Hec-Hms
  • Hec-Ras
  • Microsoft Project
  • Stormcad
  • Watercad

As you can tell, civil engineering classes are challenging since the curriculum is quite extensive and diverse. 

7. Training

Typical duties for civil engineering interns include,

  • generating and keeping records,
  • interacting closely with the civil engineer to fix issues and address complaints, and
  • creating plans and maps.

During your internship, you would likely receive instructions and the opportunity to utilize surveying tools like:

  • Prisms and Reflectors
  • Compasses and Clinometers
  • Magnetic Locators
  • Chains and Tapes
  • Grade Rods

Some receive training to conduct proper inspections using a dial indicator and GPS for construction, right-of-way, and border staking.

At the same time, others oversee the installation of piping using 2-D AutoCAD and 3-D SolidWorks.

8. Complicated Formulas and Meticulous Projects

As you go through this program, students must memorize several formulas and equations required to solve problems. 

Additionally, students must be able to analyze fractions, percentages, and ratios and recognize how each formula is used in everyday challenges.

While doing so, students must also complete meticulous, practical projects to complete the curriculum, especially during the third year of college, which is considered very time-consuming.

9. Busy Lifestyle

A busy schedule is a way of life for civil engineering students, particularly regarding their workloads and schoolwork.

They would wake up and begin preparing for their lectures on a regular day. 

Attending every one of the sessions is essential for rapid progress, even though some are incredibly long and intensive and others are short and more pleasant.

Pro Tip:  Having to eat well, get sufficient sleep, and then continue their study at home are some ways for a CE student to finish all remaining assignments. 

10. Extensive Shadow Work

Students generally participate in shadowing as part of their learning curve in this discipline.

Some have received training in designing bridge storm drains and road crossings in compliance with safety and obligation regulations.

At the same time, others create presentation slides on the energy industry’s future and deliver them to the entire civil engineering faculty.

Overall, civil engineering internship programs involve much work but can mold you and lead to a steady, well-paying profession.

11. Academic Fees

The general tuition and fees for Civil Engineering degrees in the United States vary from $10,085 to $29,939 annually.

Graduates advise students with difficulty in university to be aware of their options, including private and public sector grant programs.

According to the BLS, the average annual income for civil engineers is $95,490, with the highest earning of over $174,000. 

However, salary ranges vary due to several requirements, such as education, certifications, and experience.

To learn more, you can also see our posts on Petroleum Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Construction Management, and Chemical Engineering.


As we can see from the above reasons, being a civil engineer will be challenging. However, despite all the challenges, this course remains one of the most satisfying, well-paid, and respectable professions.

It’s an excellent career if you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself that can bring tangible benefits to the world. 

Ultimately, it all boils down to what makes you comfortable and happy instead of stressed out by your educational path.