How to Get an Online Associate’s Degree in Civil Engineering

Did you dream of building bridges, driving dump trucks, or constructing dams growing up? If so, you might want to do some research on getting an associate’s degree in civil engineering.

With an associate’s degree in civil engineering, you will be qualified to help architects and senior engineers construct major buildings, airports, railroads, power plants, waste treatment facilities, roads, bridges, and irrigation systems. If your strength and interests lie in math and science, and you enjoy the idea of working with your hands in the outdoors, then civil engineering may be a fun and rewarding path for you. Earning your associate’s degree in the field is the perfect place to start.

An associate’s degree in civil engineering typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. However, if you choose to earn your credential online, you may be able to complete it earlier. Depending on how many classes you can take per quarter/semester, you may be able to finish a lot quicker.

Pursuing an associate’s degree in civil engineering online is a great choice for students who have busy schedules and need the flexibility for school. It gives students the chance to learn while attending to their personal obligations. If you are a motivated and independent learner, distance learning can work very well for you. It is essential to make sure that the college you choose is accredited so that the credits you earn can be easily transferred to a four-year college should you decide to continue your education. By virtually attending classes online, you will have access to all course materials and participate in class discussions just like you would normally in a traditional classroom setting. The main difference is that you would be able to log into the classroom portal from anywhere and anytime to complete required coursework and exams. Students can easily communicate with other students and their professors via chat platforms and email.

Common Associate’s in Civil Engineering Curriculum

The associate’s degree program in civil engineering is designed to give students a glimpse of the basics in the field. In other words, it will not delve too deeply in one subject. For those who are curious about a specific subfield related to civil engineering, you can pursue your bachelor’s degree and pick a concentration to focus on there. As for the associate’s program, you will get a good overview of the field necessary to get your foot in the door in a lot of companies. Some common coursework you can expect to see in an civil engineering degree program include:

  • Land surveying
  • Engineering mechanics
  • Technical writing
  • Engineering materials
  • Highway construction and design
  • Technical mathematics
  • Auto CAD
  • Hydraulics
  • Infrastructure design
  • Inspection, surveying, and estimating
  • Geotechnical design

Of course, every school will also offer different variations of classes for students to take, but you will be equipped with a solid foundation that will enable you to get an entry-level management position, or allow you to keep going to earn your bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field.

In addition to engineering-related courses, students will also have general education requirements and electives to complete, which will vary from college to college. These classes are usually not directly engineering related, but will help you develop a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will be useful in helping you understand real-life situations and succeed in whatever career you choose to be in. For example, students may have an introductory course in social sciences, history, language, and fine arts, to name a few.

Should you decide to pursue a bachelor’s in civil engineering, you will be able to pick a concentrated major that caters to the field you are most interested in. Concentrations can be a great way to really learn about one aspect of the engineering field, and they often increase your career prospects because you are seen as an “expert” in that area with a higher credential. Some concentrations that students in civil engineering can explore include geo-technical, structural, architectural, traffic, and ocean.

If you are not sure whether higher education is your route, you can surely try to get an entry-level job after completing your associate’s degree and get some work experience before making a decision.

Associate’s in Civil Engineering Careers

Generally speaking, those with at least an associate’s degree have better job prospects than those just coming out of high school with a GED. With an associate’s degree in civil engineering, you can perhaps obtain employment as a drafter or civil engineering technician. Both of these career choices are great if that is what you are looking for. Otherwise, students will usually go on to complete their bachelor’s degrees to open up more doors for different career options. With a bachelor’s degree, you could take on a design or management position, or become a civil engineer.

In the engineering world, experience means nothing without proper education. With that said, you essentially would “earn your stripes” — salaries will differ depending on experience and education level combined, as well as where you work and who you work for. Either way, starting out by pursuing an associate’s degree in civil engineering will put you on the right path to success.