A civil engineering trainee performs most of the same duties as a civil engineer, only under supervision of a licensed, registered, experienced civil engineer. The purpose of a civil engineering trainee position is to train a newly graduated and licensed engineer how to correctly perform all job duties while in a safe environment that allows for guidance and learning. A civil engineering trainee learns how to analyze, take field tests, and research in order to complete engineering projects that are limited in scope. As experience grows, so do the complexity of tasks, while supervision diminishes. At the end of the trainee period, the engineer may take an exam to earn the right to practice civil engineering without supervision.
The requirements to become a civil engineering trainee are the same as to become a civil engineer. In the US, a trainee must have a four-year engineering degree from an accredited college or university, and graduates must pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and meet state licensing requirements. Most other countries have similar education and licensing requirements.
Those who pass the FE are qualified to work as civil engineering trainees. Many civil engineering trainees will perform technical tasks from day one, but under supervision of an experienced engineer whose purpose is to help the trainee gain on-the-job experience. This arrangement helps a trainee learn aspects of the job that are impossible to teach in a classroom setting. In the US, a civil engineering trainee will earn the right to work as an engineer without supervision upon completing the Principle and Practice of Engineering exam.
Civil engineers apply scientific and technical knowledge to practical situations. They design and plan for the construction of public facilities and structures, such as roads, bridges, and public utility systems. Civil engineering trainees learn to perform these same functions and, in larger companies, may attend classes. The civil engineering trainee program may last from 12 months to several years.
Trainees in civil engineering will do field work, take measurements, and perform research. They will draw plans, perform drafting, and examine maps and documents. Civil engineering trainees make estimates and review right of ways and legal descriptions during the design process. They may rotate through several different engineering concentrations and work under a variety of types of engineering specialists in larger organizations. This gives new trainees a wide base of engineering experience while networking with seasoned professionals and gaining additional perspective into the civil engineering profession.