Top 5 Software Packages All Civil Engineers Need to Master

Civil engineers have always had a tough job, but as designs continue to get more complicated thanks to advancements in architectural technology, the job is only becoming tougher! Fortunately, modern technology also provides solutions to complicated problems. Then again, in order to successfully use that technology to your advantage, you need to get up close and personal with the products created by another wing of engineering; namely, software engineering.
So, without any delay, let’s dive in and find out what the five most important software packages are; all of which civil engineers should get to know with professional efficiency to succeed in their careers today.

AutoCAD

AutoDesk first created AutoCAD back in 1982, and over the next 37 years nearly perfected it. “Nearly” being the keyword. AutoCAD is the go-to tool for creating and testing 3D models and designs, and is used by civil engineers, architects and graphic artists.
Unless you have a strong grasp of how things work in your version of the software, as well as how to use the more advanced features, you are going to struggle! Check out the following quick tips to help you:

  • If your dimension lines are crossing, use Dimbreak instead of doing it manually
  • Use Dimspace to even out lines with uneven spacing in between them
  • The Dimjogline command is a shortcut that will shorten unnecessarily long dimension lines without affecting geometric symmetry

MS Excel

Is there a profession that doesn’t require mastering Microsoft Excel? Ignoring the rhetorical question, let’s get into the basics of what makes Microsoft Excel so useful for civil engineers:

  • Tracking submittal details regarding what, when, and how changes were made to the original
  • Tracking inventory withdrawals
  • Tracking changes made in the order, as and when applicable
  • Utilizing the tracked data to make dynamic cost estimations regarding the contract/order
  • Tracking expenses outside the two-party contract; consultation invoices for example
  • Tracking raw materials in quantity and cost, while adjusting according to changes requested
  • Finding, replacing, marking and checking contract data to prevent duplication and errors
  • Easy creation and updating of the BOM via the dedicated template

You can combine your knowledge of MS PowerPoint to further refine and augment your tables, but Excel is where the nitty-gritty of civil engineering business calculations are conducted.

MS in ECE-Advanced Mobility

Admittedly, this one isn’t a software tool or package – it is a highly useful master’s degree in engineering – but it’s one that holds the most value out of everything we have mentioned so far.
Consider the fact that the average salary of a civil engineer in the US was roughly $87,000 in 2018, while the average pay of an engineer working with autonomous vehicles was about $400,000, back in 2017!
Before pointing out the fact that we are discussing civil engineering careers here, there is something you need to know. Civil engineers can complete a cross-disciplinary master’s degree in ECE-Advanced Mobility from Kettering University Online and join this highly lucrative industry. It’s true that civil engineers are not going to go out of demand anytime soon, but taking a masters in a related subject will add another avenue of career opportunities; one that’s more lucrative and future oriented.

Primavera

This is a time-tested, reliable, enterprise-grade, project portfolio management tool that’s immensely useful to a variety of professionals working as project leads. For civil engineers, Primavera can help with the following, but its applications can be widened further, depending on the project in question.

  • Planning and scheduling projects from the ground up
  • Tracking and reviewing performance reports
  • Graphical representation of all compatible data and other visualization features
  • Tracking and controlling the various aspects, as well as all stages of the project
  • Visual comparison in between a project’s actual progress and planned progress
  • Visual comparison in between a project’s true performance and expected performance
  • Testing model scenarios with simulations to find problems and alternative solutions

As a side note, you can also use Microsoft Project for similar features.

ArcGIS

Finally, we have ArcGIS, a mapping tool by the Environmental Systems Research Institute that you will find quite useful for data on US maps. Standout features of the program are as follows:

  • Creation of layered exhibits with accurate topographical data
  • Get detailed and near-accurate data regarding elevation levels, materials, street names and addresses
  • Collaboration features allow for the sharing of all available and created data; multiparty input is supported simultaneously
  • Spatial analysis for predictive modeling and deciphering hidden location data
  • Real time analytics, 3D modeling, remote sensing and much more

What software do you use as a civil engineer?  Can you recommend any degrees that will boost your earning potential?  Let us know in the comments.

Saad Iqbal
Hi there, I am Saad Iqbal from Pakistan. I am an enthusiastic blogger, passionate content creator, construction geek, and a creative graphic designer. Connect with me at my social channels.