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Civil Supervisors monitor civil construction projects. They oversee activities such as building bridges, repairing highways and doing construction on airports. While Civil Supervisors may have an office, much of their time is spent on construction sites to make sure all parties involved are performing up to par. They are leaders who have worked their way up to this position from earlier experience in civil engineering and public works.

The safety and usability of our nation’s infrastructure are important to everyone. People depend on dams holding, bridges staying stable and pipes delivering clean water. Thus, civil projects often take priority even in slow economic times. Because of this, job prospects for Civil Supervisors should be promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 11 percent growth in the employment of civil engineers between 2016 and 2026.

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Civil Supervisor Duties and Responsibilities

Part civil engineer and part manager, Civil Supervisors serve as both fountains of knowledge and project organizers. From our analysis of job postings, core responsibilities for Civil Supervisors include the following:

Supervise Construction Activities

Civil Supervisors familiarize themselves with all aspects of the project, from structural drawings to budgets to deadlines. They make sure all parties are doing what they are supposed to do, and they carry out visual inspections of work completed. If construction affects the activity of the general public, Civil Supervisors figure out adjustments, such as rerouting traffic.

Solve Problems

From contract disputes to materials not arriving on time, Civil Supervisors handle situations as they arise to limit tensions and disruptions.

Maintain Safety and Legality

From start to finish, Civil Supervisors make sure the work being performed is structurally sound. They follow governmental regulations, address environmental issues and comply with local codes. When state and federal inspectors visit the site, Civil Supervisors may lead them around and answer questions.


Civil Supervisors act as a liaison between groups, such as carpenters and pipefitters. They also may need to provide reports to project engineers and others who monitor progress or make changes to plans.

Civil Supervisor Skills

Besides being talented civil engineers, Civil Supervisors must possess leadership skills so people will stay on task and work hard to get things done. They also must be outstanding organizers capable of working within budget and time constraints. Other skills Civil Supervisors are likely to possess include:

  • Multitasking to watch over different teams and activities at the same time
  • Exhibiting calmness and diplomacy to ease tensions when conflicts and problems arise
  • Attending to detail to ensure nothing slips through the cracks
  • Focusing on safety at all times

Civil Supervisor Tools of the trade

Aspiring Civil Supervisors need to be familiar with the following items:

Structural drawings and blueprints – Images detailing the work needing to be done

Design software – Computer programs that assist when planning out a project, such as a hydraulic system

Building materials – Wood, concrete, asphalt, steel and other basics of construction projects

Surveys – Examinations of the actual project site to obtain information on things such as soil condition and to place markers that will guide construction

Budgets – Breakdown of costs for each element of the project, such as material and labor

Building codes – Location-specific regulations governing the design, construction, alteration and maintenance of structures in order to ensure safety

Permits – Governmental permission to perform specific construction or repair

Hard hats – Protective headgear worn on construction sites

Civil Supervisor Education and Training

Civil Supervisors usually hold at least a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a professional license. Many also pursue graduate studies in that area or a related field, such as construction management. Civil Supervisors should plan on being life-long learners in order to stay up-to-date on the latest developments and standards.

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Civil Supervisor Resources

Here are more resources for learning about the role of Civil Supervisor:

Engineering the City: How Infrastructure Works - Projects and Principles for Beginners by Matthys Levy

For young readers interested in the inner workings of a city, this book provides an easytounderstand introduction.

Introduction to Infrastructure: An Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering by Michael R. Penn and Philip J. Parker

Considered by some to be the "bible of infrastructure," this textbook is known for its coverage, solid content and emphasis on conceptual understanding.

Civil Engineers Handbook of Professional Practice by Karen Hansen and Kent Zenobia

This book focuses on the business and management of civil engineering, topics of great importance to Civil Supervisors. Sections on career goals and worklife balance are bound to be helpful to those who go into this rewarding but often demanding profession.

Civil Engineering Professional Network and Opportunity

With more than 66,000 members, this LinkedIn group provides both new and seasoned engineering professionals with opportunities to meet others in the field and obtain advice on career advancement.

American Society of Civil Engineers

Representing more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries, the nation's oldest engineering society is a goto place when you want answers to questions regarding a career as a Civil Supervisor. Its website also features a variety of interesting items, such as the annual report card on the nation's infrastructure.

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