image of Best Places 2023

There’s the old line about the three keys to a successful restaurant –location, location, location.

It can apply to your civil engineering career as well. Where you live and work still goes a long way toward your happiness.

And it’s with that in mind that ASCE releases its annual list of the Best Places to Be a Civil Engineer. 

The Best Places list is built from three statistical inputs: salary data from the annual ASCE Salary Report; job availability information from Madgex Inc.; and cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Here is this year’s top 10:

photo of Detroit

10. Detroit

ASCE Salary Report rank: 8th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 13th

Cost of Living Index rank: 18th

Last year’s overall placing: 10th

“Detroit has a rich history of civil engineering, including the first mile of concrete highway on Woodward and the first urban depressed freeway, M-8 Davison Freeway. Detroit is also home to the largest wastewater treatment plant in the United States, (constructed in 1939), dozens of beautiful 1920s art-deco skyscrapers and buildings, and the Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Canada, which was the longest suspended central span in the world when it was constructed in 1929.

“Current construction projects – including the Gordie Howe International Bridge, redevelopment of Michigan Central Station, construction of the Hudson’s site development downtown, and integration of nonmotorized mobility options into the city’s transportation plan – are keeping local civil engineers busy and driving the Motor City into the future. The aging infrastructure in the city presents a lot of opportunities for local civil engineers to make an impact in designing innovative solutions to improve the quality of life for its residents.” – Mike Michalak, P.E., M.ASCE, Oak Park, Michigan

photo of Washington DC

9. Washington, D.C.

ASCE Salary Report rank: 13th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 7th

Cost of Living Index rank: 33rd

Last year’s overall placing: 7th

“Working in the DMV area is so diverse, and being in the nation’s capital allows me the privilege to meet engineers from around the world. The projects are exciting and mostly megaprojects related to government, not to mention that many big companies make sure to have offices here.” – Hala Abdo, E.I.T., A.M.ASCE, Reston, Virginia

photo of Seattle

8. Seattle

ASCE Salary Report rank: 12th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 5th

Cost of Living Index rank: 36th

Last year’s overall placing: 11th

“Seattle has been growing steadily over the last several years, which can be seen in the many major infrastructure projects in the area. At one point, Seattle had the most tower cranes in the world!

“Projects include development of multimodal transportation to connect communities, fish passage restoration, wildlife crossings, and wastewater treatment plant upgrades just to name a few.

“Also, we have exciting new projects on the horizon, such as the electrification of the Washington State Ferry Fleet and completion of the Seattle Waterfront. The bipartisan infrastructure law will provide essential funding to these major projects for years to come and will require more talented engineers for successful delivery.

“Seattle is an amazing city that’s minutes away from beautiful nature. It is a city filled with great companies and agencies, along with top professionals, and the area can’t hire engineers fast enough. It is an amazing place to work and live as a civil engineer!” – Romulos Ragudos, E.I.T., A.M.ASCE, Seattle

photo of Phoenix

7. Phoenix

ASCE Salary Report rank: 18th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 11th

Cost of Living Index rank: 19th (tied)

Last year’s overall placing: 8th

“What I am hearing from the members of the ASCE Phoenix Branch conveys the ampleness of opportunities for civil engineers’ work both in public and private sectors. Salaries are competitive, and the Phoenix area is a great place to live. Longevity in jobs seems to confirm the feelings.” – B Kent Lall, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, Scottsdale, Arizona

photo of Atlanta

6. Atlanta

ASCE Salary Report rank: 20th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 10th

Cost of Living Index rank: 21st

Last year’s overall placing: 6th

“Atlanta is full of possibilities and always growing and progressing in every area of civil engineering: transportation, construction, structural, water, and geotechnical. It truly always feels like there is enough work to go around, so industry competitors feel more collaborative and less combative.

“Those who work here often get to see and interact with the projects they help design and are either a part of the community or live near the community they help build!

“Even though Atlanta is a big city, universities and professional organizations keep engineers well connected and make the industry feel small.” – Maya Goldman, P.E., M.ASCE, Atlanta

“I love being a civil engineer in Atlanta. Known as one of the best places to do business in the United States, Atlanta offers so much opportunity for engineers, due to its rapid growth and the state’s commitment to improving infrastructure. Also, the engineering community in Atlanta is great – providing a supportive network of industry friends!” – Julie Secrist, P.E., M.ASCE

photo of Chicago

5. Chicago

ASCE Salary Report rank: 17th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 4th

Cost of Living Index rank: 29th

Last year’s overall placing: 4th

“I love being a civil engineer in Chicago because there are so many aspects of the industry here! The work I am currently doing is directly impacting the city. Being able to work with a general contractor, I get to experience the construction phase of the industry while working hand in hand with other civil, structural, and architectural engineers.” – Stephanie Wasag, E.I.T., A.M.ASCE, Chicago

photo of Denver

4. Denver

ASCE Salary Report rank: 36th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 2nd

Cost of Living Index rank: 26th

Last year’s overall placing: 2nd

“As a civil engineer specializing in transportation, I’m excited about all the current and future projects Colorado is undertaking. One of my unique projects that I am working on is an avalanche mitigation project near Vail.

“We love the outdoors here, so being so close to mountains for camping, skiing, fishing, and being able to work on enticing projects is what lured my wife and I to Colorado.” – Omar Venzor, P.E., M.ASCE, Littleton, Colorado

“The continued growth within Denver and the surrounding areas, along with the investment in infrastructure, attracts many civil engineers from around the country and the world. Coupled with world-class outdoor activities and the support locally for work-life balance, Denver continues to be a top spot in the country for civil engineers.” – Jared Coleman, P.E., M.ASCE, Aurora, Colorado

photo of Houston

3. Houston

ASCE Salary Report rank: 3rd

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 6th

Cost of Living Index rank: 7th

Last year’s overall placing: 3rd

“More than a thousand people moved to Texas every day in the last decade, and a significant portion of these people have chosen Houston as their home. This made Houston one of the fastest growing and the most diverse metro areas in the nation.

“If migration continues at the same rate, the population of the greater Houston area will be doubled by 2050. This gives Houston an immense opportunity to undertake massive infrastructure initiatives that will create opportunities for thousands of civil engineers.

I have been living in Houston for more than 20 years and am proud to call Houston my home.” – Uttam Karmaker, P.E., M.ASCE

photo of Dallas

2. Dallas

ASCE Salary Report rank: 16th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 3rd

Cost of Living Index rank: 19th (tied)

Last year’s overall placing: 5th

“There has never been a better time and place to be a civil engineer other than now and in Dallas. Being one of the best places to live in the country, Dallas is one of the largest metro areas and still one of the fastest growing. The need to rehabilitate and expand its infrastructure to keep up with the growing population brings daily challenges to civil engineers to apply their most innovative solutions.” – Fadi Faraj, P.E., M.ASCE, Dallas

photo of Los Angeles

1. Los Angeles

ASCE Salary Report rank: 19th

Civil Engineering Job Index rank: 1st

Cost of Living Index rank: 34th

Last year’s overall placing: 1st

“There are several initiatives taking place to improve the infrastructure that benefits millions of Angelenos. Because the 2028 Olympics is set to take place in Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports is working on over $15 billion of infrastructure improvement projects. LADWP is aiming to recycle 100% of all wastewater for beneficial reuse by 2035 and move towards 100% renewable energy by 2045.

“With all these initiatives, there are countless job opportunities for civil engineers within the city of Los Angeles. In addition, the city offers great weather year-round, some of the best dining and entertainment in the world, and a rich cultural scene. So, during your time off, there’s so much for civil engineers to do!” – Claris Purasinghe, E.I.T., A.M.ASCE