Construction Engineer Careers
Imagine how much work goes into to building a skyscraper, completing a sewer system, building a hydroelectric dam, or constructing a railroad system. It’s not a job that just anyone can accomplish, unless you’re a highly trained construction engineer.
A construction engineer designs, plans, constructs, manages, and oversees large construction projects such as highways, bridges, airports, buildings, dams, or utility projects. They must have a diverse mix of skills to accomplish this massive task. In essence, they are civil engineers, structural engineers, architects, and construction managers all rolled into one job.
Construction engineers literally take a project from a simple concept through the development stage to the final construction and grand opening. They are a part of the process for the entire duration of the project. Building and completing a major project can take years to accomplish and they are directly responsible for the project’s success or failure.
To start a major project, construction engineers have to assess access, consult maps and surveys, review local building codes and laws, seek necessary approvals, and make financial plans. Next they must develop blueprints with CAD software, consult with construction firms, and create realistic time estimates. Then the construction engineer must supervise the project, ensure material delivery, deal with any on site problems, and oversee the entire project.
Finally, the construction engineer must do a final inspection of the building. It is ultimately his responsible to ensure that the project is completed correctly, on time, and within budget. He also must approve that the infrastructure project is safe and functional.
To become a construction engineer, you must pursue a construction engineering degree from a university program accredited by the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). There are approximately 25 programs in the US. Typically the program takes 4 years to complete and includes courses such as construction management, engineering mechanics, and design. Add in a background in math and science, critical thinking, and people management and you will be a successful construction engineer.
Some construction engineers pursue graduate degrees too. It’s highly recommended and often required for construction engineers to sit the Professional Engineering License exam. This gives them the leg up over construction managers when competing for jobs. Once licensed, construction engineers usually specialize in four areas – building, electrical, mechanical, and heavy/highway.
Construction engineering job opportunities fluctuate with the economy. When there is a demand for construction projects, construction engineers are very busy. As the construction business slows, competition for jobs is fierce. It’s estimated that this field will grow by approximately 20% by 2022.
Gaining experience as an construction engineer is very important. There are internships available, but many construction engineers start as construction managers and superintendents before becoming construction project engineers. Qualified construction engineers can usually find jobs with government agencies or major construction firms. Once established, construction engineers can make an average salary of $85,000 per year.
Construction engineers fill a unique job niche. They combine business and technical knowledge to plan, design, build, and complete huge construction projects. Next time you fly out of an airport, drive on a highway, flush the toilet, or float your raft under a bridge be sure to admire the hard work of a construction engineer.
Quick Facts About Construction Engineer Careers
Job Title: Construction Engineer aka Project Engineer
Office: Office and Construction Sites
Description: Designs, plans, constructs, manages, and oversees large construction projects
Certifications/Education: Professional Engineering License, Construction Engineering Degree
Necessary Skills: Critical Thinking, Math, Science, Engineering, People Skills
Potential Employers: Government agencies, Large construction firms
Pay: $85,000 per year