In a year marked with uncertainty, civil engineering salaries continue to trend up, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE’s) 2021 ASCE Civil Engineering Salary Report. The report shows mostly positive numbers for the profession despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The median pre-tax annual salary (from all sources) in 2020 among survey respondents was $119,000. That’s a $10,000 two-year increase from the Salary Report data taken from 2018.
“The work that civil engineers do, regardless of whether it is planning, design, construction, or maintenance, is essential if our nation’s economy is going to continue to function,” said Dennis D. Truax, P.E., DEE, D.WRE, F.NSPE, F.ASCE, president, ASCE. “The infrastructure that we create and manage is the foundation for daily life. As a result, civil engineers have found creative ways to continue to work during the pandemic, and their dedication has been recognized in many ways, including continued improvement in their compensation.”
The report, prepared by Industry Insights Inc. is based on survey information from ASCE members with this year’s edition drawing from 3,156 responses. The typical respondent was a male in his early 40s with a bachelor’s or advanced degree and about 19 years of professional experience.
The report shows that base salaries for civil engineers have risen 4%-6% per year from 2018 to 2021. It also indicates a profession with growth potential. The typical median entry-level salary in the report is $66,000, while those more experienced civil engineers who have a professional engineer’s license earned a median primary income of $123,000.
“The opportunities in the civil engineering profession to have a productive, rewarding career that affects change and impacts lives is limited only by the individual,” Truax said. “Demand for those in this profession will only increase as we repair or replace the existing infrastructure systems. Finding new, more sustainable, lower-total-cost solutions will require the next generation of civil engineers to think outside of the box – resulting in even greater recognition and reward.”
As many of the overall positive trends remained consistent despite the pandemic, the report also revealed a consistency of the more disturbing kind: the continued gap in salaries for women and ethnic minorities.
Median primary income for male respondents was $120,000 compared with $94,000 for females. Respondents identifying as white, meanwhile, earned a median income of $116,000, compared with $101,000 median for Hispanic civil engineers, $97,000 for Asian civil engineers, and $94,000 for African American civil engineers.
“While these gaps have narrowed, they still exist,” Truax said. “We need to recognize that this gap is not the result of experience or commitment to the job. It is the result of many other factors, and we all need to work to correct them. The solution starts with each of us, including white males, advocating for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace. After all, accepting inequity is tolerating injustice.”
The full study is available at https://www.asce.org/career-growth/salary-and-workforce-research.