What a Construction Engineer Does
Work as a construction engineer, a special type of civil engineer, can be immensely rewarding. Professionals in this field may work in the public or private sector and can be involved in building, designing, or managing construction projects. While most people think the job only pertains to creating buildings, construction engineers may work on roads, bridges, tunnels, dams, water systems, municipal projects like airports or subways, and so much more.
Who would enjoy a career in Construction Engineering - Civil Engineering?
People who are highly analytical and enjoy troubleshooting or critical thinking are likely to enjoy the profession.
Who mightn't like the career?
Those who don’t enjoy problem solving or long hours of planning and management will become disenchanted with the profession.
A bachelor’s degree related to civil engineering generally the bare minimum one needs to get into the field. Candidates hoping to be more marketable may also have a master’s degree in an area related to the sector they hope to work in. The ability to fluently use numerous computer programs, from Excel, to email, and CAD programs is also a must.
Prior to interviewing for a position, it’s important to review potential interview questions, which may range from explaining why buildings collapse through how the firm is structured.
Role: Junior engineers work under the supervision of tenured engineers and may be given smaller projects to manage on their own or may be given specific tasks to manage by senior engineers. Duties may include creating designs for simple projects using computer assisted design (CAD) programs, inspecting work on simple projects, surveying, preparing progress reports, estimating payments to contractors and materials needs, and drafting bids for projects.
Role: In order to obtain an assistant engineer position, a person must generally have the practical qualifications of a junior engineer as well as several years of experience in the field. Promotions are handled internally as positions become available or a qualified candidate can apply outside the firm if internal options are not available. An assistant engineer performs the same duties as a junior engineer, though he is often given more complex tasks and may be the one to sign off on the work a junior engineer does. Assistants also manage people in lower positions as well as office staff.
Role: Associate engineers are typically expected to have full licensing for the jurisdiction they work in as proof of their competence, in addition to the previous qualifications. People in this position still work under the direction of a senior engineer or engineering manager, though with much less direction. They are expected to fulfill all the duties of a senior engineer, only turning to superiors when a new situation arises or if a project is particularly challenging. For example, an assistant may be assigned the job of designing a highway, but an associate would also evaluate future traffic needs as well as plan for traffic flow and signals.
Role: Engineering managers are generally expected to have a master’s degree in their area of specialty or a business degree, as well as several years of experience as an associate. Additional leadership training is also a selling factor when trying to secure a management position. Most engineers move into a management role as their career progresses.
They may work as an engineering manager, program manager, or project manager. While the position involves engineering work, such as the creation, conception, and planning phases of a build, it also involves leadership of subordinates and team management.
Construction engineers are needed across the globe, and a license is needed as the career progresses. Sometimes, licenses are granted at a local level, such as by providence in Canada or by state in the US, and they do not readily transfer. On the other hand, Australia shares its licensing process with New Zealand, and the UK does not legally protect the term “engineer,” but qualified candidates may register with any one of dozens of professional organizations to gain credibility and more work opportunities.
Most licensing bodies, across all jurisdictions, will take prior licensure and education into account during the application process and offer an easier pathway for those who already have a proven track record.
Although construction engineers are needed everywhere, those entering the field are generally encouraged to study and obtain licensure in the jurisdiction they hope to work in to ensure a smooth transition into the career. This way, the education and accreditation will unquestionably be accepted.
Junior Engineer: According to PayScale, entry-level civil engineers in the United States earn an average of approximately USD$58,000, while those in Canada take home CAD$58,000, Australians AU$66,000, and those in the UK make around £27,000.
Assistant Engineer: USD$72,000, CAD$72,000, AU$80,000, £33,000.
Associate Engineer: USD$81,000, CAD$85,000, AU$100,000, £38,000.
Engineering Manager: USD$95,000, CAD$99,000, AU$119,000, £49,000
Depending on one’s marketability, a firm may include a benefit package that includes profit sharing or bonuses, which typically amount to 1-2% of the salary.
Why a Construction Engineer moves on
As a whole, construction engineers report being under a great deal of stress and spend much of their days at a desk, so the desire to have more physical activity and a relaxed environment is a major factor as well.
Studies and exit rates suggest that sexism can also be problem in some parts of the industry. Many women report discrimination and only about half of those who qualify for positions actually remain in the field.