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5082 Views 3 Replies Latest reply: Feb 17, 2010 1:02 PM by Achmed1
TheFastSeeker Rookie 2 posts since
Feb 17, 2010
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Feb 17, 2010 10:54 AM

Civil Engineering is hazardous to your career prospects

I just saw this on another running board, so I thought I'd pass it on. Note: the 19.4% unemployment rate for workers in the construction industry is an outdated figure; the unemployment rate is actually 24.7%. Source:


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Civil Engineering One of the Hardest Hit Majors, Job Prospects Poor.

For the class of 2010, a degree provides no expectations of jobs. While this is true for almost any major, it is an incredibly apt statement for dozens of civil engineering students graduating this spring.

Both anecdotal and empirical evidence paint a gloomy picture of job prospects for civil engineering majors. The construction industry has been the hardest hit during the downturn, and some analysts believe that there is enough housing to last for over a decade even if all new construction ground to a halt. While the national unemployment rate hovers around 10%, the unemployment rate in the construction industry is 19.4%. Moreover, this decline shows no signs of stopping even though other sectors of the economy have slowly been recovering. According to the BLS, the construction jobless rate was 18.7% in October 09, but it shot up to 19.4% just one month later.

Amanda Gordon, a recent graduate, is feeling the pain. "I've been looking for engineering jobs since the beginning of my senior year two years ago. Despite sending out almost a hundred resumes so far, I've only gotten six interviews and no job offers." Those who dismiss her difficulties by assuming she was a slacker in college would be sorely mistaken. Her GPA is a stellar 3.5, and she has half a year of internship experience.

Things have gotten so bad that the campus culture appears to be changing. "It's always easy to differentiate the upperclassmen from the everyone else", junior Henry Clayton joked. "The seniors and some juniors nervously watch Bloomberg in the cafe, while the freshmen and sophomores sitting next to them talk about things like partying, playing basketball, or watching Avatar."

Recently, a disturbing trend has emerged. More and more students are postponing graduation in hopes of waiting out the recession, and their numbers have been exponentially increasing. The numbers are especially high among civil engineering majors. Three years ago, it was almost unheard of for students to deliberately delay graduation, but an informal student poll estimated that the percentage of CE students who could have graduated in 2008 but chose not to was 3-5%. That number reached 8-10% last year, and it is expected to top 15% this spring. Some students are taking minors or are attempting a second bachelor's degree, while others are simply taking a lighter course load and enjoying their time on campus.

Despite these trends, advisors have sought to allay student fears and concerns. "Civil engineering is a very broad field", one of them said. "Our graduates who do not want to pursue construction go into other fields such as water resources and transportation. One of them was even hired by an oil company." Many prospective students aren't buying it.

"Advisors, professors, and everyone else working in the civil engineering department have a conflict of interest" undeclared freshman Jeffrey Lee said. "They want more students taking civil engineering because more students mean more funding. Regarding their claims, it's true that some civil engineers work in fields outside the construction industry, but the large majority of civil engineering jobs are construction related."

Other CE students have been resigned to a state of despair and desperation. "I'm sorry to say this, but there are often times when I fantasize about the city being destroyed by earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes. At least the rebuilding process will give us some jobs." one student said. "It's too late for me to change my major, so that's all I can hope for."

For the rest of us, we hope that his wish for a natural disaster may never come true.

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