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Can a Felon Get a Civil Engineer License?

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Felons may think no one will hire them after serving their sentence, but there are resources available. Many employers have discovered that felons make good employees. Some felons may have an interest in becoming a civil engineer.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can get a civil engineer license.

  • What is a Civil Engineer?
  • What Education/Training Does a Civil Engineer License Require?
  • How Much Does a Civil Engineer Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Civil Engineer?

An engineer applies the principles of science and mathematics in developing an efficient solution to a technical problem. Many engineers develop new products while others improve upon an existing one.

Civil engineering is one of the oldest areas in general engineering, dating back to the early Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans. A civil engineer designs, builds, and maintains infrastructure projects, including:

  • Roads
  • Buildings
  • Airports
  • Tunnels
  • Dams
  • Bridges

Among the many duties of a civil engineer are:

  • Analyzing survey reports and maps
  • Calculating construction costs
  • Analyzing soil testing results
  • Analyzing the results of tests on building materials
  • Preparing project cost estimates
  • Managing the repair and maintenance of public and private infrastructure

There are several areas of civil engineers:

  • Construction
  • Geotechnical
  • Structural
  • Transportation

Among the important qualities essential to be successful as a civil engineer are:

  • Math
  • Organizational skills
  • Problem-solving ability
  • Decision-making skills
  • Time management
  • Communication

What Education/Training Does a Civil Engineer License Require?

A person who wants to become a civil engineer a needs at least a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or civil engineering technology. Programs in civil engineering include course work in:

  • Math
  • Statistics
  • Engineering mechanics
  • Fluid dynamics

A degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is needed to earn a Professional Engineer license. Most civil engineering programs take four to five years to complete.

A license is not required for an entry-level position as a civil engineer.

A Professional Engineering license is required for a civil engineer who provides services directly to the public, and to sign and finalize engineering plans.

While the requirements vary from one state to another, state licensure typically requires:

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program and passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam
  • At least four years of work under a licensed engineer and passing the Professional Engineering exam

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) offers certification in various fields within the civil engineering domain. These certifications can help an individual advance their career within the field.

How Much Does a Civil Engineer Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 300,000 civil engineers working in 2017. The median annual income for a civil engineer was $84,770 in 2017. The median income is that salary at which half of civil engineers earn more and half earned less.

Experience will make a difference in how much a civil engineer earns annually. The area of the country in which a civil engineer works also makes a difference in their earnings.

Civil engineers working in the Northeast, Northwest, and Southwest earn more than those located elsewhere. Those in Texas, Louisiana, Alaska, and Colorado typically earn more than a civil engineer that works elsewhere.

Employment of civil engineers is expected to grow approximately 11% between 2016 and 2026, a greater rate of increase than average. This growth will be due to the need to manage projects in rebuilding, repairing, and upgrading bridges, roads, airports, and other structures.

An Opportunity for Felons?

A felon can pursue any degree they want. Approximately 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process although there is no standard policy regarding a background check.

Any felon wanting to get a degree can find a college that will accept them. The challenge is in obtaining a license as a civil engineer and a job after graduating.

While the requirements for felons becoming a civil engineer differ somewhat depending on the state, typically, the regulations indicate certain factors. These criteria will be considered as to whether a crime relates to the occupation of a civil engineer:

  • Nature and seriousness of the crime
  • Relationship of the crime to the responsibility to work as a civil engineer
  • Relationship of the crime to the competence, ability, capacity, fitness, or professional judgment required to perform the duties and responsibilities of a civil engineer
  • Outcome of the judgment, penalty, or punishment whether completed or ongoing
  • Date of completion and resolution of the terms of the terms of any judgment, penalty, or punishment
  • Extent to which an engineering license might offer for further criminal activity

It’s important to be honest in filling out an application for licensing as a civil engineer. If a felony isn’t disclosed but found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is a punishable crime.

Having their felony expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a civil engineer license. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Taking the time to complete a quality resume will also be extremely helpful.

Recommended Action

It’s a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to get a civil engineer license. To him or herself the best chance for success, have his or her record expunged. Documenting any programs, education, or training completed could be critical.

Having support from family, friends, counselors, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime.

We’re defined by how we recover from our mistakes and not in the mistakes we make. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a civil engineer license with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

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