In a year marked with uncertainty, civil engineering salaries continue to trend up.
The 2021 ASCE Civil Engineering Salary Report, released this week, 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 ASCE President Dennis D. Truax, P.E., DEE, D.WRE, F.NSPE, F.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 is based on survey information from ASCE members with this year’s edition drawing from 3,156 responses. The respondents were primarily male (83%) with an overall average of 18.9 years of 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 average salary rises to $174,000 at ASCE grade VIII.
“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.”
For female respondents, the average experience was 13.2 years and the average salary $94,000. Male respondents averaged 19.7 years of experience with an average salary of $120,000. According to Shawn Six, principal at Industry Insights, the data management firm that helped with the survey, a regression analysis that controlled for variables including experience, engineering level, and geographic location shrunk the gender pay differential to 5.5%.
“It’s encouraging that that data also confirmed that early-career salaries for men and women in civil engineering are equal,” Truax said. “It also appears there are many factors that contribute to the gap which exists in later years. These include matriculation, career length, years of experience, position, hours worked, and more. Understanding the reasons for this difference is important so that everyone can advocate to continue the progress we’ve made over the recent decades.”
Read more about the factors driving these statistics in ASCE's "Women in Civil Engineering series, including a deep dive exploring the nuance behind the salary numbers.
Learn more about how to access the entire 2021 ASCE Civil Engineering Salary Report, including unlimited access to searchable survey data, as well as the ASCE Salary Calculator, which allows users to assess how their salary compares with others. ASCE members get five total free uses of the calculator and searchable data.
This article was updated March 3, 2022.