Civil engineers who shared their experience and advice in "Explore Engineering Careers in Public Agencies" responded to questions we didn't get to during the live roundtable discussion. I'll post their answers here to a new question each day through next Thursday. If you missed the live session watch the recording posted on the Career Discovery web page https://collaborate.asce.org/covid-19/career-discovery. Also register there for future roundtable sessions exploring civil engineering careers in consulting, education, construction, and industry – and bring your questions for our panelists!
Today's question: What is the typical retirement age for a public agency engineer? (Answers are based on individual experiences and are not necessarily representative of practices at all public agencies.)
Greg DiLoreto, P.E., P.L.S., Pres.13.ASCERetired CEO from Tualatin Valley Water District (OR)Today many public agencies, like most private companies, have had to revamp their retirement programs with respect to unfunded liabilities. Often they have gone from defined benefit programs, where you are guaranteed a certain retirement amount, to defined contributions where you will receive in retirement whatever was put into the program. With that change, many public agencies have gone to minimum retirement ages of 65 or 66 to receive full benefits.
Kristina Swallow, P.E., Pres.18.ASCEDirector, Nevada Department of TransportationAt most agencies in Nevada, you can collect full retirement immediately upon retiring once you have 30 years of service with the agency or other agencies in the retirement system (most NV public agencies are in the same system). You can also buy up to 5 years of service so that it would only require 25 actual years of work. So, if you start early with an agency in your 20s, you could retire in your early 50s. That said, if you start later they have other retirement options available like pension based on years of service that I believe mostly start at age 60.
Brian Phan, P.E., M.ASCETransportation Engineering Associate, Los Angeles Department of Transportation – CaliforniaWith the City of Los Angeles, retirement at age 55 typically allows us to maximize our pension. In order to maximize your pension benefits, one must be 55 years old and have 30 years of service with the City of Los Angeles. As many of us start work right after college, by the time we reach 55 we have hit these milestones.
Jarred Jones, P.E., M.ASCEExecutive Director, North Charleston (SC) Sewer DistrictIt depends on an individual's circumstances and what type of retirement system an agency has. I am under a retirement system that allows retirement with a pension after 28 years of service. So in theory some employees could retire around 50. The new retirement system enacted a few years ago for new employees requires them to be closer to 60. From what I have witnessed, public agency employees generally retire a little bit earlier than private-sector employees when there is a retirement system in place.
Edith Martinez-Guerra, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCEResearch Environmental Engineer, US Army Corps of Engineers- Engineer Research and Development CenterTypically, after 25 years of service.