What Software Should A Civil Engineer Be familiar with?

If you are interested in Civil Engineering, you need to familiarize yourself with several civil engineering software programs.

Civil engineers use various programs to help them in their daily duties. They do everything from modeling pipe networks or water quality ponds to making sure they stay on schedule.

Although there are various sub-disciplines like transportation engineering and structural design, there are several civil engineering software programs that are universal.

The civil engineering software you use the most will depend on the kinds of projects you are involved in and your specialization.

You will also use different programs as you progress in your career as an engineer.

To start with, you will use the more technical programs, and as you progress, you will begin to use programs that focus on project management.

The list we've put together below contains programs for civil engineers used most often by every civil engineer, no matter what phase of their career they are in.

Table of Contents


autocad can assist your design processAutoCAD

AutoCAD is likely the most used software program in the world of civil engineering.

CAD stands for computer-aided design.

AutoCAD is drafting software that's used to prepare construction plans.

It can also be used in many other industries, like surveying, architecture, interior design, electrical engineering, communications, and many more.

This means that learning AutoCAD will make you very versatile.

Autodesk is the company that makes AutoCAD, and they also make a program called AutoCAD Civil 3D.

Along with using drafting tools, AutoCAD Civil 3D allows you to perform tasks like creating surfaces, profiles, alignments, and more.

HEC-HMS simulates the hydrologic processHEC-HMS

HEC-HMS, or the hydrologic modeling system, is considered a standard for hydrologic simulation. It is used to simulate the hydrologic process of watershed systems.

It also provides you with nearly all the drainage values you will need.

With HEC-HMS, you can describe the physical properties of a watershed and the meteorology that will act on the watershed during a specific timeframe in a simulation.

The simulation results are easy to understand, with summary tables for each element, including peak flow, total volume, depth, and storage values in reservoirs and ponds.

Although it was developed at the Hydrologic Engineering Center of the US Army Corps of Engineers, anyone can download HEC-HMS.

Revit will aid your BIMRevit

Revit is a great program that will extend your Building Information modeling (BIM).

You can use Revit to design, plan, and construct buildings and infrastructure elements.

And instead of just creating a drawing of the elements in your projects, you can build 3D models with Revit.

You can attach a lot of information to each element in your model.

After learning how to use Revit, you will have the confidence to manipulate the data from a BIM model and know how one change to an object on a model will impact the rest of the design.

Revit was first released in 2000 and has been developed rapidly since then.

Now Revit is much more data-intensive than even AutoCAD, but it isn't as flexible due to its stricter rules that are necessary to construct something safe and in coordination with stakeholders.


STAAD PRO by Bentley systems is a program used in the design and analysis of structures used by many professional civil engineers for construction projects.

Many structural design engineers choose STAAD PRO for the steel, concrete, timber, aluminum, and cold-formed steel design of any structure.

Those structures can include culverts, petrochemical plants, tunnels, bridges, piles, and much more.

This is all achieved through STAAD PRO's flexible modeling environment, advanced features, and fluent data collaboration.


Excel is important for all civil engineersMicrosoft Excel

We've all heard of Microsoft Excel.

And Microsoft Excel is likely the most universal software program in the civil engineering industry.

Most civil engineering calculations are performed in Excel, so it is imperative that you know how to use MS Excel in civil engineering. 

You need to have basic Excel skills, but don't worry; you don't need to become a Microsoft Excel wizard.

If you had to use Microsoft Excel throughout your time as an undergrad engineering student, you have probably developed enough skills in the program to get by.

To stay familiar with Excel, you can use spreadsheets in your personal life. For example, you can create a spreadsheet to organize your finances or create daily schedules.

If you'd like to take your skills to the next level, you can learn Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications.

These skills will allow you to run macros that can make Excel an even more powerful tool, and you are a more valuable civil engineer.


Microsoft project helps with project managementMicrosoft Project

Continuing with Microsoft programs, Microsoft Project is an excellent project management tool you should be able to use in civil engineering.

Microsoft Project is similar to many Microsoft Office programs, so it will be easy to navigate.

When it comes to managing engineering projects, scheduling is extremely important.

When you have the knowledge of basic scheduling concepts such as activity relationships, critical paths, and Gantt Charts, Microsoft Project will allow you to create detailed schedules so you can manage your different projects.



MicroStation is an excellent civil engineering program used to model different infrastructure projects.

MicroStation edges out its competition on several fronts.

MicroStation doesn't tax your system resources like RAM, and MicroStation typically runs pretty light.

It's also popular because of its speedy modeling, viewing, documentation, and visualization of projects.

MicroStation is an easy-to-use program with an easy-to-use interface that you can get the hang of it pretty fast the first time you use it.

As a civil engineer, you will need as much technology as possible to meet the most demanding clients' needs, and MicroStation does not disappoint.

It has traditional CAD capabilities and many revolutionary inventions like 3D parametric modeling that make it a versatile choice for many infrastructure projects.

The quality of MicroStation's paper plots, i-models, 2D/3D PDFs, reports, and 3D physical rivals the very best programs available.


Bluebeam Revu

Bluebeam Revu is a high-powered PDF program.

Bluebeam makes marking up PDFS and managing sheets easier than if you were using Adobe Acrobat.

It also allows you to measure the length of linear features and determine the area of polygons by using the scale to calibrate the page.

Many civil engineers prefer Bluebeam Revu over Adobe Acrobat.

It's a fairly intuitive program, and you won't need to dedicate much time, if any at all, to learn to use it outside of work.

As a civil engineer, you at least need to be aware of Bluebeam Revu because it's always good to know as much as possible about your industry.

SketchUp is a great 3D visulaization programSketchUp 

As you start to research the various programs we've discussed in this article, you will notice that not many of them come cheap.

That's why we love SketchUp. SketchUp is one of the most complete 3D visualization programs for civil engineers, and you can do basically everything you need with the free version.

There are many remarkable capabilities in SketchUp, especially when you consider its robust extension warehouse.

With it, you can utilize pre-built assets from fellow users to speed up the design process.

It also makes the design process extremely easy. 

With it, you just draw lines and shapes and then push and pull the surfaces to convert them into 3D forms.

It can also stretch, copy, orbit, and paint easily and quickly to make anything you desire.

SketchUp has speedy rendering performance for even the most intricate designs.

If you're a civil engineer striving to grow into 3D visualization on a budget, SketchUp is for you.



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To partner with a company like STEVENS, which is at the forefront of the construction industry, click on the button below to see how we can help you. 


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About The Author


I'm Ben Sparhawk, the Content Writer and Marketing Account Manager for the esteemed STEVENS company. As someone passionate about crafting captivating content, I take great pride in creating pieces that highlight STEVENS' capabilities and communicate the depth and breadth of their outstanding work.

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