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Average Salary: $79,340

Expected Lifetime Earnings: $3,312,000

Civil engineering work will provide you with a pretty nice standard of living. Let's start with a general perspective on all civil engineering jobs lumped together. In 2010, civil engineers' median annual pay was around $80k.

Now let's consider the salary range within the civil engineering profession. During that same 2010 snapshot, the bottom-dwelling civil engineers earned $50k or less yearly; the stratosphere-floating civil engineers grossed almost $120k annually. Quite a discrepancy, isn't it? The civil engineers' pecking order probably influenced their salaries, too. After all, some civil engineers hold cushy administrative or management jobs, such as city engineer or construction site manager positions. Other civil engineers perform design, teaching, or research jobs. Logic would indicate that at least some of these professionals would pull in more dollars than an entry-level worker just out of college.

Finally, let's follow the money. In other words, let's look at civil engineers' salaries in different employment sectors. In 2010, federal government civil engineers topped the charts with a whopping $90k median annual salary. Local government was right on the feds' heels with a median annual wage of around $80k. Then we get to private engineering, architectural and similar firms; collectively, civil engineers in these firms made around $75k per year. Civil engineers employed by nonresidential construction companies came in right around $75k, too. Finally, state government-employed civil engineers brought up the rear with a median annual wage of about $70k annually.

Of course, many salaried positions also include benefits such as health insurance, a savings or retirement plan, and educational assistance. Some firms or agencies also offer perks such as health club membership discounts. You will probably want to consider the value these benefits add to your overall compensation package.