Civil engineers in Virginia and elsewhere are grappling with a shortage of candidates in a key field, with a report this week highlighting an “urgent need for additional qualified civil engineers” in the nation’s largest metropolitan area.
The National Science Foundation reported that civil engineers were the least-qualified group in the country in 2020, according to its “Counting Civil Engineers” study.
The federal agency is conducting a similar survey in 2021 to see how many civil engineers are in a state with a population of 50,000 or more.
Civil engineers account for roughly 14 percent of the total workforce in the U.S., the N.S.F. said.
That’s well below the national average of 17.3 percent and the national median of 23.5 percent.
In a news release, the NSC said that civil engineering students need to have at least a bachelor’s degree and that it was critical to “build the skills necessary to effectively and competently manage complex engineering projects, including infrastructure, transportation, and disaster management.”
The study also noted that about one-third of civil engineers had less than a high school diploma, while only 1.7 percent had at least high school diplomas.
Civil engineers also tend to be younger and less experienced than other professions.
About 13 percent of civil engineering graduates are under 30, while 17 percent are in their 40s.
While the Nsc has conducted similar surveys in other states, Virginia has the highest proportion of civil school graduates in the state, the agency said.
It’s also the most populous state with an educated workforce, the report said.
About 17.6 million people are employed in the federal government, about one out of every three people in the United States.
Among the findings:The Nsc survey found that more than 60 percent of federal employees were female and 19.4 percent were white, compared with about 6 percent of all employees nationally.
A majority of workers were in their 20s and 30s, but the report found that half of federal workers were 65 or older.
About 30 percent of workers in civil engineering were white.
About a quarter of all federal employees are minorities, and more than 10 percent of those workers are Hispanic, the highest percentage of any group, the study found.
More than 6,000 civil engineers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia received their bachelor’s degrees in civil or engineering engineering sciences in 2020.
The District’s total was 9,527.
The most common degree was a master’s in civil and environmental engineering, which is awarded in engineering technology.
The report noted that Virginia had the lowest proportion of engineers with bachelor’s and associate degrees in the region, with less than 10,000 in 2020 compared with the national rate of 24,500.
Virginia had about 16,000 more civil engineers with degrees than the next-highest-ranked state, Georgia, with 15,300.
In 2020, the state had 9,500 civil engineers, compared to 6,100 in the national total.