How Much Does a Civil Engineer Earn?

By | January 27, 2023

Whether in business or from the public sector: civil engineers are in demand in all areas. Civil engineers plan and construct all kinds of construction projects. The current income study shows how much a civil engineer earns.

According to the latest salary study, construction income rose by 1.7%. Beginners in engineering received a gross annual salary of between 40,000 and 50,000 euros in 2019. Experienced civil engineers achieved an income of up to 60,000 euros, which corresponds to an increase of 0.6%. In 2019, the gross annual salaries of the study participants overall (young professionals and engineers with professional experience) averaged 61,100 euros (+ 0.5% compared to the previous year).


Civil engineers with professional experience earn 55,000 euros

Civil engineers with more than two years of professional experience earned an average of 55,300 euros in 2019. Here the salary development has remained stable, because in 2018 the average was 55,000 euros. Young professionals can expect a salary of around 45,400 euros. In 2018 the salary was still 44,600 euros.

With an average gross annual salary of EUR 45,600 in 2019, studying civil engineering again includes the lowest earnings prospects. After civil engineers were able to record particularly large increases in 2018 as a result of the construction boom and numerous infrastructure projects in Germany, salaries rose only moderately in 2019 by 1.2% compared to the previous year.

Construction industry with great need for engineers

Terraced house, highway or bridges: civil engineers are building the future. Despite the Corona crisis, the industry is positive about the future. Civil engineers can take advantage of this development and find exciting job offers. The same applies to civil engineers as to any other engineer: the higher the position, the better the earnings. As a department head, the income study calculated an annual salary of 84,000 euros.

Digitization determines the construction industry

The digitization in construction and the increasing pressure on earnings for manufacturers of building materials are among the decisive developments for the coming months. The construction industry also sees considerable potential in the areas of climate protection, sustainability and the maintenance and expansion of infrastructure. In addition to pure construction work, civil engineers must also offer the development, operation and utilization of construction services. Skills that go beyond their technical skills are required.

Whether know-how in project management, knowledge of building law and last but not least, the innovations due to digitization – civil engineers always have to keep up with the times. The industry has been driving the potential of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for a long time. The method is based on an object-oriented 3D model to which all planning and construction partners have access.

Salary comparison: Civil engineers are still paid less than their colleagues

Despite all the joy of the increase in recent years: experienced civil engineers are paid significantly less than engineers from other disciplines. According to this, technical and project engineers in the construction industry received 48,675 euros (middle quartile) in 2019. The upper quartile was 56,000 euros. Project engineers in mechanical and plant engineering, on the other hand, already earned an average of 56,200 euros. Specialist engineers in the construction industry are still ahead of colleagues from engineering and planning offices. Project engineers received an average of 48,000 euros here.

Tip: The “Fee Schedule for Architects and Engineers” (HOAI) applies to all freelancers commissioned with the planning of construction projects. It guarantees both a binding price level and the possibility to sue fixed fees in court. Because the costs and efforts of freelancers, the responsibility to land orders themselves and thus money, partly outweighs the plus compared to their permanent colleagues.

Starting salary for engineers: young professionals were able to increase their income

In 2017, the salary slips had an average starting salary of EUR 43,500, thereby consolidating a new level of income. In 2018, starting salaries rose by 2.6% and averaged € 44,650. Another increase in 2019: young civil engineers received 45,415 euros.

You can influence your starting salary to a certain extent, namely through your own academic degree. Those who drop out after completing their bachelor’s degree have a maximum starting salary of 50,000 euros. That is around 6,000 euros less than a colleague with a university degree, i.e. a master’s degree. It has now risen above the level of Dipl.-Ing. leveled off and seems to find its intended place in the economy. Incidentally, the choice of the university also turns the salary screw: degrees at universities and technical colleges are slightly better endowed than those at universities of applied sciences.

With all these factors, from the Bologna degrees through the university form to the doctorate, one should consider that in the end it always depends on the position sought in the world of work, which criteria are perceived as positive and which as negative points. After all, you can not only be underqualified, but also overqualified – especially if many years of study but no professional experience can be proven.

Civil engineers: keep your eyes open when choosing an employer

But another set screw can be turned: the choice of the employer. Because the size of the company for which an engineer works is also decisive for the amount of the remuneration. While specialist and project engineers earn an average of almost 50,000 euros in a small company, the average in a large corporation is around 17,000 euros more annually. For a division manager, the size of the company can make up a large part of his salary (for example, 72,000 euros in companies with 1,500 employees compared to 129,500 euros in large corporations with more than 5,000 employees).

The following applies across all industries: the larger the company, the more is paid at the end of the month. Of course, one can say that the smaller competitors pay less, but have at least as exciting jobs for civil engineers as the big ones. But in terms of salary, the following applies: A small company or planning office and companies that are located in a structurally weak region pay lower wages on average than their large competitors.

In the west, more wages are paid for civil engineers

There is still a clear west-east divide in Germany. The engineering salaries of all east German districts are below the salary level in the west of the republic. The best chance in the salary poker can be calculated by the civil engineer who hires from a large company in western Germany. In Düsseldorf, the gross annual wages in the middle quartile are 64,500 euros.

At least that’s true in theory. If it weren’t for all the other influencing factors.

Consider working hours and variable salary poker salary

There are three soft factors to consider in salary poker, because they make a big difference in annual salary.

  • Are you entitled to vacation and / or Christmas bonuses?
  • What is your contractually regulated weekly working time?
  • Does your annual salary contain variable remuneration components?

In any case, it is clear that employees enjoy holiday and Christmas bonuses. According to the income study, more than half of the engineers receive neither vacation nor Christmas bonus. 45% of engineers with less than two years of professional experience receive Christmas and holiday bonuses. The situation is very similar for experienced professionals: 46% of those surveyed receive special payments.

This is more difficult to explain in terms of working hours: civil engineers are among the heavy workers among engineers. The weekly working hours of employees with collective agreements is 45 hours per week on average, just as high for non-collective employees and slightly less for non-collective employees. Managers, on the other hand, work an average of 46 hours a week. What does all this have to do with the salary? Quite simply: If you have a contractually agreed 45-hour week, but do an hour of unpaid extra work every week, your own salary is reduced by around 10% at the end of the year. This connection should be kept in mind, especially when it comes to salary increases.

And now to the variable remuneration components: Although they do not play a major role in the construction industry compared to the other engineering disciplines, on average they make up a good 5% of wages.

Conclusion: civil engineers are optimistic about the future

If you are looking for a permanent position, you can take a look at our job portal for civil engineers. If you are well positioned digitally, you can quickly get into construction companies that work with BIM projects. Otherwise, negotiation skills and a good overview of the strengths and weaknesses of your own profile are particularly helpful. You can get support in our career area.