Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians - What They Do

Civil engineering technologists and technicians provide technical support and services to scientists, engineers and other professionals, or may work independently in fields such as structural engineering, municipal engineering, construction design and supervision, highways and transportation engineering, water resources engineering, geotechnical engineering and environmental protection. They are employed by consulting engineering and construction companies, public works, transportation and other government departments and in many other industries.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

Civil engineering technologists

  • Develop conventional and computer-assisted design (CAD) engineering designs and drawings from preliminary concepts and sketches
  • Prepare construction specifications, cost and material estimates, project schedules and reports
  • Supervise or conduct field surveys, inspections or technical investigations of topography, soils, drainage and water supply systems, road and highway systems, buildings and structures to provide data for engineering projects
  • Conduct or supervise inspection and testing of construction materials
  • May supervise, monitor and inspect construction projects.

Civil engineering technicians

  • Assist in developing engineering specifications and drawings
  • Participate in field surveys, inspections or technical investigations of topography, soils, drainage and water supply systems, road and highway systems, buildings and structures to provide data for engineering projects
  • Perform other technical functions in support of civil engineering activities.

Job titles

  • bridge design technician
  • building materials technician
  • soil technologist - civil engineering
  • civil engineering technician
  • civil engineering technologist
  • construction technologist
  • foundation technologist
  • highway technician
  • municipal engineering assistant
  • specifications writer, construction
  • structural design technologist
  • structural investigator
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of a two- or three-year college program in civil engineering technology or a closely related discipline is usually required for civil engineering technologists.
  • Completion of a one- or two-year college program in civil engineering technology is usually required for civil engineering technicians.
  • Certification in civil engineering technology or in a related field is available through provincial associations of engineering/applied science technologists and technicians and may be required for some positions.
  • A period of supervised work experience, usually two years, is required before certification.
  • In Quebec, membership in the regulatory body for professional technologists is required to use the title “Professional Technologist.”

Essential Skills


  • Read short notes from co-workers and colleagues. For example, construction engineering technicians read project managers' notes about matters such as types of paving stones to use. (2)
  • Read text entries in forms. For example, construction technologists read inspectors' observations and recommendations in inspection forms. (2)
  • Read descriptions of products and services in catalogues and brochures. For example, structural design technologists working for oil and gas companies read suppliers' catalogues to learn about materials being considered for future jobs. Construction engineering technicians read descriptions of products such as bin walls in suppliers' brochures. Municipal engineering assistants read promotional materials in which suppliers describe products and outline maintenance methods. (2)
  • Read e-mail from co-workers, colleagues and clients. For example, they read e-mail which provide updates on projects from their supervisors. Design technologists read e-mail which list architects' changes to engineering plans. Construction technologists read e-mail to learn about clients' requests for changes to configuration requirements. (2)
  • Read memos and letters from co-workers, clients and suppliers. For example, construction technologists read memos in which inspectors and project managers report field observations such as soil moisture levels and materials' structural properties. Technologists in project manager roles may read letters from developers who outline concerns about costs associated with proposals. Design technicians for transportation departments may read e-mail from pipeline operators about the locations of underground gas lines. (2)
  • Read magazine and newspaper articles. For example, remediation and waste management technicians and technologists read on-line articles on topics such as treatment methods for various landfill contaminants. They read newspaper articles describing projects under review by city councils. Construction engineering technicians who co-ordinate site preparation work may read articles in On-Site magazine to learn about the effects of construction noise on neighbours. (3)
  • Read academic and professional journal articles. For example, municipal design technicians may read articles in the Journal for Water Conservation to learn about new designs, construction methods and products. (4)
  • Read requests for proposals and estimates from contractors. For example, civil engineering technologists read proposals which describe projects and outline deliverables, specifications and preliminary design requirements. Municipal engineering technicians review contractors' estimates which specify pricing, propose timelines and describe deliverables. (4)
  • Read regulations and specifications. For example, construction technicians and technologists read municipal bylaws to understand the standards for the design, engineering and construction of projects such as bridges, shopping centres and housing complexes. Prior to commencing work in sewer systems, construction technologists read their organizations' health and safety regulations on entering and working in confined spaces. Engineering assistants who work on road construction read project design specifications for road, sidewalk and lane construction and specifications for rock removal, shoring, materials, excavation and backfill. (4)
  • Read reports. For example, technicians who work in remediation and waste management organizations read reports on wildlife assessments, soil conditions, found contaminants, bearing capacities and drainage and bore hole logs for potential landfill sites. Municipal engineering technicians read subdivision development reports to ensure that proposed improvements to public spaces comply with city standards. They read research reports which describe road surfacing and crack sealant methods. (4)
  • Read project, procedure, equipment and reference manuals. For example, they read project manuals to understand design plans, analysis techniques, product requirements, applicable codes and construction practices associated with design and construction projects. Materials testing technologists read their organizations' procedure manuals when conducting tests such as sieve analysis of aggregates. Construction technicians and technologists may read the Handbook of Concrete Culvert Pipe Hydraulics to understand the principles, the methods for applying these principles and the mathematics needed to perform the specialized calculations for concrete culvert designs. Structural engineering designers who work in oil and gas pipeline construction may read manuals such as The Handbook of Steel Construction to determine the sizes and attributes of specified steel bolts. (4)

Document use

  • Locate data in lists. For example, technologists working as project coordinators locate contact information in lists of approved contractors. (1)
  • Locate data in tables and schedules. For example, road construction technologists scan specification tables to locate short-term road markings. They scan delivery schedules to locate due dates. Remediation and waste management specialists scan specification tables to locate flow rate capacities for different sizes of pipes at various elevations. Structural design technicians scan tables in materials handbooks to identify types of bolts required for specific applications. (2)
  • Locate data in graphs. For example, materials testing technologists identify variances from established upper and lower limits in soil sample results. Road construction technicians determine elevations of existing roads in road elevation line graphs. (2)
  • Locate data in forms. For example, municipal engineering assistants assigned to road construction projects compare entries on contractor's invoices with supporting data on construction completion forms. Construction engineering technologists locate soil profile data and borehole test results in engineering reports for construction sites. Materials testing technologists locate gradation analysis results of soil and asphalt samples in test analysis forms. (2)
  • Enter data into tables and schedules. For example, materials testing technologists enter dates, times and initials into logs to document their use of nuclear density equipment. Civil engineering technologists enter contractors' billable hours and quantities of construction materials into project tracking sheets. (2)
  • Enter data into forms. For example, structural designers complete project status reports to indicate work completed, work remaining, decisions made and actions taken. They enter dates, times, descriptions of work to be completed, types and quantities of materials required and anticipated labour costs into construction cost estimate forms. Materials testing technologists record their findings and observations in field inspection reports and complete seismograph installation forms. (2)
  • Interpret schematic drawings. For example, pipeline structural design technicians identify flow directions for oil and gas in pipeline and processing systems using schematic representations. Engineering assistants working on municipal road maintenance use schematic representations to identify site drainage patterns. (3)
  • Interpret scale drawings. For example, structural design technologists scan construction drawings to locate existing utility lines in their municipalities. Construction technicians examine maps included in soil reports to identify locations of rock reserves. (3)


  • Write reminders for themselves and notes for co-workers. For example, municipal engineering technicians and technologists may write reminders about new types of roadway compaction equipment. They may write notes for co-workers to suggest ways to improve highway designs and increase traffic flows. (1)
  • Write e-mail to co-workers, colleagues, clients and suppliers. For example, materials testing technologists may write messages to co-workers about matters such as testing for vibrations when installing seismographs. Construction engineering technicians write e-mail to project managers to inform them of problems and to provide several solutions for their consideration. Municipal design technicians write to colleagues in neighbouring municipalities to request data on capacity levels of sewer lines. (2)
  • Write letters and memos to clients and contractors. For example, engineering design technologists write memos to clients to explain additional work and associated costs required to correct project deficiencies. Technicians working for remediation companies write letters of agreement for contracted work. They include project specifications, deliverables, timelines and payment schedules for the work to be completed by contractors. They write memos to contractors to ask for progress reports. (2)
  • Write reports. For example, materials and design technologists write field inspection reports to describe their observations, outline concerns and summarize discussions with workers at construction sites. Construction engineering technicians write reports to summarize information provided by project managers and clients. (3)
  • May write procedures for engineering and design processes. For example, civil engineering technologists may write step-by-step procedures for technicians to follow when preparing engineering designs. They may write guidelines which specify criteria for project designs, materials acquisition and construction methods. (4)


Money Math

  • Calculate amounts for expense reimbursement claims. For example, they calculate expenses for using personal vehicles at per kilometre rates. They calculate amounts for living expenses using per diem rates. They add amounts for additional expenses such as the purchase of tools and supplies. (2)
  • Calculate amounts for quotes and invoices. For example, municipal engineering assistants calculate amounts on suppliers' invoices. They multiply numbers of items by cost per item for each invoice entry. They calculate discounts and taxes on quotes and suppliers' invoices. (3)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • Create schedules for workers and equipment. For example, structural engineering technologists assign people and equipment to the various phases of construction projects. They may need to modify schedules to accommodate weather delays, lack of qualified contractors and equipment breakdowns. (3)
  • Compare costs for construction and maintenance options. For example, construction technicians calculate the total cost savings which may be achieved by using higher quality pipe for the construction of sewer systems. (3)
  • May create budgets for design, construction, maintenance and inspection projects. For example, technologists working as project coordinators and managers may prepare budgets for municipal waterworks construction projects. They calculate labour costs using different rates for each classification of worker and piece of equipment. They calculate costs for construction materials and supplies. (4)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Calculate time spent on engineering projects. For example, municipal design technicians may calculate total hours for each stage of municipal roadway improvement projects. (1)
  • Take measurements and readings using specialized measurement tools. For example, construction engineering technicians use survey equipment to measure distances between existing roadways and greenbelts when planning changes to highway routing. Waste management technicians use survey equipment to measure elevation points for storm and sewer lines in new housing developments. Civil engineering technologists employed in test laboratories may measure the granularity of gravels to ensure roadway construction beds have the required characteristics. They measure the structural strength of roads using electro-magnetic equipment. (3)
  • Calculate quantities of materials that have to be excavated, moved, processed and stored. For example, construction technologists and technicians calculate surface areas of sidewalks that need to be constructed in new subdivisions. They calculate volumes of fill that have to be brought into and removed from construction sites. Remediation and waste management technicians calculate volumes of materials in landfills and volumes of water passing through pipes of given pipe diameters, lengths and water pressures. (3)
  • Calculate capacities, dimensions and other properties of civil engineering projects. For example, design technologists and technicians calculate slopes and pipe sizes required for sewer and water systems. They factor historical data on rainfall amounts, storm frequencies, water run-off and absorption rates and amounts of water stored in reservoirs in their calculations. They use formulae to calculate pipe sizes and the angles at which pipes are to be placed to ensure constant pressure and flow levels and to prevent the build up of sediment. They may calculate load capacities of piles and determine how many kilonewtons and kilopounds of force piles will withstand. (4)

Data Analysis Math

  • Compare measurements to specifications. For example, road construction technicians compare road elevations to design specifications. Municipal design technicians confirm that sewer line flow rates are above specified levels to ensure there is no sediment build-up and that the flow rates meet both engineering and municipal standards. Materials testing technologists analyze the results of sieve tests to determine if aggregate mixtures meet standards. (1)
  • Collect and analyze data to describe the operations of civil engineering structures and systems and the environmental features which affect their performance. For example, civil engineering technologists analyze data on ground conditions such as soil characteristics and groundwater levels before construction of water and sewer systems begin. They analyze data on materials used and actual times taken to complete tasks as construction progresses. They analyze performance data such as flow rates and water pressures when projects are completed. (3)
  • Estimate quantities of materials and time required to complete construction projects. For example, design technologists estimate the quantities of materials delivered and used at construction sites. They estimate times for crews to complete job tasks. (2)

Oral communication

  • Discuss ongoing work with co-workers and colleagues. For example, municipal engineering assistants discuss the availability and scheduling of heavy equipment with project planners and construction contractors. They meet technicians and technologists from other municipal departments to discuss the technical requirements and timelines associated with large-scale projects. Remediation and waste management specialists coordinate job tasks and schedules with lab technicians and operating engineers. Civil engineering technicians working for municipal governments convene and facilitate meetings with utility company engineers to discuss joint projects which require the management of services such as electricity and gas. (2)
  • Give instructions to workers they supervise. For example, civil engineering technologists who work for municipal governments provide direction to design and drafting technicians. They explain task sequences, ensure team members have all the information required to complete the assigned tasks and inform them of changes and refinements to project plans. Materials testing technologists teach technicians about testing techniques and lead discussions on safety topics such as the use of personal protective equipment with new employees. (2)
  • Discuss products and services with contractors, suppliers and manufacturers. For example, materials testing technologists discuss specifications for services such as collecting and analyzing asphalt samples with potential contractors. Remediation and other waste management technicians ask suppliers about the maintenance requirements for liners, pipes and fabricated goods such as manhole covers. Engineering technologists speak to manufacturers about the strengths and limitations of products such as suspension systems for hanging water mains beneath bridges. (2)
  • Discuss civil engineering theory and practice with their co-workers and colleagues. For example, at site meetings, structural design technologists discuss approaches to engineering problems they are encountering during construction. Construction and geotechnical technologists discuss budgets, timelines and constraints of their projects with their supervisors and request clarification and further direction. Project co-ordinators discuss site design, deficiencies and potential solutions to problems with construction forepersons. Materials testing technologists review road construction contract specifications with pavement materials engineers. (3)
  • Discuss technical matters with clients and the general public. For example, design technologists working for civil engineering companies discuss project progress and specifications with clients and seek their perspectives on project elements that require redesign. Materials testing technologists may appear at public meetings to explain to homeowners how traffic-induced vibrations are measured and to present test results for their neighbourhoods. (3)


Problem Solving

  • Cannot complete project tasks as planned due to unfavourable environmental conditions and contractors' errors. For example, civil engineering technicians discover large amounts of ammonia in landfill sites slated to become housing developments. They excavate the landfills and refill excavated areas with more suitable materials. Design technologists may discover that materials with incorrect granularities have been laid around drainage pipes. They ask contractors to remove the materials and deliver the sizes and types of materials specified in the contractual agreements. (2)
  • Cannot complete job tasks due to equipment malfunctions. For example, technologists may be unable to complete analyses of asphalt conditions because sub-surface testing equipment is malfunctioning. They check supply voltages and electrical connections. If needed, they call manufacturers' help lines for troubleshooting assistance, follow the directions provided, make the necessary adjustments and then check to ensure the equipment is working properly. (2)
  • Find that site preparation and construction activities are causing nuisance for neighbours and damage to adjacent properties. For example, when homeowners complain of property damage, vibrations, and noise due to nearby construction work, construction technologists ask contractors to monitor seismic activity and to investigate the complaints. They work with the contractors to determine the causes of damage and noise and identify possible solutions. They recommend solutions to their supervisors. They may appear at public meetings to respond to the homeowners' complaints and outline actions that will be taken to address their concerns. (3)

Decision Making

  • Choose materials for construction, maintenance and inspection projects. For example, municipal engineering assistants choose snow and ice removal chemicals. They consider the cost, ease of use and effectiveness of these products. Structural designers select fasteners and structural beams for oil and gas facilities. They confirm that all products meet or exceed safety standards and engineering specifications. (2)
  • Select suppliers and contractors. For example, construction engineering technicians consider prices and distances to quarries and processing sites when selecting suppliers of stone materials. Construction technicians choose contractors for specific projects after considering contractors' qualifications and reputations for successes with similar work. (2)
  • Choose engineering methods and tools. For example, soil testing technologists select water retention methods for sites after reviewing data on ground compositions, nearby fish-bearing streams and weather patterns. They select the test procedures, measuring tools and statistical methods for collecting the data required. (3)
  • May choose preliminary design elements for civil engineering structures and systems. For example, design technologists may decide that sewer systems need sub-drains after reviewing data on soil drainage and the slopes and locations of existing hook-ups to municipal systems. They review data on rainfall histories, absorption and flow rates, numbers of houses in developments and distances travelled before waste is deposited into regional systems. (3)

Critical Thinking

  • Assess the suitability of construction materials and products. For example, highway technicians evaluate the suitability of materials to be used for rebuilding railway crossings by comparing the durability and costs to similar products. Construction technologists assess the suitability of metal pipes for use in storm sewers. They consider how the pipe will be placed, the size of the industrial development, soil conditions and the anticorrosive characteristics of differing brands of pipe. (3)
  • Assess the need for data collection and research. For example, they determine the need for a geotechnical analysis prior to starting construction projects. They review the advantages and disadvantages of full analyses and the costs and results of analyses on previously completed projects that have similar designs and locations. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Civil engineering technologists and technicians are assigned tasks and timelines by engineers and project managers. They plan their work and establish priorities in order to complete job tasks on time. They frequently work on several projects at varying stages of completion. They may need to coordinate their efforts with those of co-workers when working on large projects. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Civil engineering technologists and technicians who are project managers and coordinators are responsible for organizing and planning work for contractors and technicians. They assign responsibilities to workers and establish timelines to meet targets. (3)

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember standards and specifications, building code regulations and design procedures for their areas of expertise.
  • Remember times and dates for project deadlines, appointments and deliveries.

Finding Information

  • Find information about construction standards. For example, civil engineering technologists and technicians identify construction standards by reading municipal by-laws and engineering standards manuals and discussing requirements with their supervisors. (2)
  • Find information about and specifications for engineering projects. For example, civil engineering technologists and technicians learn about new projects by speaking with project managers and engineers and by reading project specifications. Technologists who are project managers read tender packages and geotechnical reports to learn about work being undertaken by their organizations. (2)
  • Find information about new materials and equipment. For example, project managers working for civil engineering companies may learn about new organic compounds used to attract sediment in holding ponds by reading articles on the Internet and speaking with colleagues. Project coordinators preparing sites for construction learn about vacuum trucks by searching the Internet and speaking with colleagues, equipment vendors and manufacturers. (2)

Digital technology

  • Use word processing. For example, municipal engineering assistants write, edit and format letters to suppliers and reports for their supervisors using word processing software such as Word. They may use features such as columns, word art and automatic pagination when producing more lengthy reports. (2)
  • Use graphic software. For example, civil engineering technologists use photo editing software such as Photoshop to edit and resize digital images taken at construction sites. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, civil engineering technologists and technicians retrieve project-specific information and survey data from their organizations' databases. They scan database forms to identify contact information for clients and suppliers. They may export survey data to other software applications. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, civil engineering technologists and technicians exchange e-mail with co-workers, clients and contractors. They attach documents, use address books, flag messages and confirm receipt of messages. They may use the calendar functions of e-mail programs to book meetings. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they search Internet sites for updates to engineering design standards. Design technicians working for municipal governments and engineering companies find information about new products and materials. Remediation and waste management technicians investigate treatments for leachates and other contaminants found in landfills. (2)
  • Use other computer and software applications. For example, they may use geographical information systems to locate maps of areas they are working in and export these maps to other applications. Design technologists may protect letters and proposals by saving them to portable document format and encrypting their signatures. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, civil engineering technologists create spreadsheets to record, analyze and track deliverables, timelines, costs and materials. Materials testing technologists create and modify spreadsheets to collect, organize and analyze data, and use graphing features to display the results. (3)
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining software. For example, civil engineering technicians and technologists may use computer-assisted design software to create and edit drawings of structures such as storage facilities, railway crossings, site servicing, utility and storm and sewer systems. (3)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Although most design work is completed independently, civil engineering technologists and technicians occasionally need to coordinate and integrate job tasks with engineers, other technicians and contractors on project teams. They integrate job tasks with planners, engineers and construction superintendents when carrying out construction, inspection and data collection projects. (2)

Continuous Learning

Civil engineering technologists and technicians learn continuously in order to remain knowledgeable about changes in their industries. They learn through their day-to-day work activities and discussions with co-workers, colleagues and contractors. They also learn by reading municipal, provincial, federal and industry standards and regulations for their areas of work. They may attend training courses on computers and software, health and safety and construction management. (3)