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Project Engineer

Education and Training: High school or bachelor degree in construction
Average Salary: $79,860
Job Outlook: Very good

Project engineers are also known as construction managers in the United States. Their main responsibilities include coordinating, planning, and directing construction related projects for industrial, commercial, and residential markets. They are also responsible for hiring contractors such as electricians and plumbers.

A project engineer works with several people or teams, right from project planning to the implementation stage. Large scale commercial or industrial projects may be overseen by multiple project engineers.

For residential projects, a project engineer may be the owner of the company handling the construction. Because some project engineers own construction businesses, they can be salaried or self employed.

Project engineers are involved in every single phase of the construction process – right from site preparation, laying foundations, developing framework, and more. One of their chief tasks is to ensure that all compliance codes and safety regulations are followed.

Education and Training Requirements

Many construction companies prefer hiring project engineers with a bachelor degree in construction science or even civil engineering. However, those with more than 7-8 years of work experience can also get jobs after completing an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree via distance learning or online classes.

Some construction workers, like plumbers and electricians, can also become project engineers after years of experience in the industry but as of 2010-11, companies prefer to hire those with construction management expertise.

Certification can increase employment opportunities but it is not a mandate in the industry. Certification programs are available via the American Institute of Contractors and Construction Management Association of America.

Getting the Job

There are two ways to become a project engineer – you could start out as a contractor, such as a plumber or electrician, and then become a project engineer through career advancement. The other option is to get a four year degree in construction management and join a construction company as an assistant to a project engineer.

Irrespective of the path you choose, becoming a project engineer will require a few years of work experience in the construction industry.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development

Employment opportunities are best during a construction boom in your city or state. Overall, employment is expected to grow by 17% by 2018 due to population growth and the need to build new infrastructure in suburban cities.

After spending 8-10 years at a construction company, most project engineers venture out on their own by starting small construction related businesses.

Working Conditions and Environment

A project engineer works from an office at the main construction site but may have to spend time monitoring work and meeting workers, contractors, and architects.

Since most industrial units carry out construction work round the clock, a project engineer is expected to be on call 24 hours a day to deal with weather related problems and other roadblocks.

Although their work is not dangerous, project engineers need to be careful while conducting onsite inspections.

Salary and Benefits

The median annual salary of salaried project engineers is $79,860. Those with a bachelor’s degree in construction management get offers of approximately $54,000 when they start job hunting.

Typical benefits include sick leave and bonuses. When working on overseas projects, special benefits are provided by most companies.

Self employed project engineers earn more than their salaried counterparts, although this depends on factors like geographical area and the field they are working in.

Where to Go for More Information

American Council for Construction Education
1717 North Loop, 1604 E, Ste. 320
San Antonio, Texas 78232
(210) 495-6161

American Institute of Constructors and Constructor Certification Commission
700N Fairfax St., Ste. 510
Alexandria, VA 22314
(571) 527-3105

Construction Management Association of America
7926 Jones Branch Dr., Ste. 800
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 356-2622

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