Project engineers serve as the mechanism to keep projects, such as construction jobs, moving efficiently and on time. They determine the costs associated with a task, organize the staff and their duties, and ensure that the undertaking is not only what the client envisioned, but is also up to code. The position requires excellent leadership, communication, and time management skills.
What Is a Project Engineer?
Worldwide human resources consulting firm Randstad says that a project engineer’s main job is “bringing in a profitable, successful project on time and to the satisfaction of the end user.” It is a great career for engineers who excel at problem-solving, implementing solutions, time management, and supervising others. One needs to be focused and have effective organizational, leadership, and communication skills to succeed in the role.
As construction projects are typically large operations, a project engineer must be able to organize a construction team that will successfully and safely transform blueprints into completed structures. They need to interpret what the client desires and put it into terms that the construction staff can use, and ensure that there is effective communication between all crews involved. The project engineer oversees the entire project from inception to completion to ensure it is built to serve its intended purpose.
A project engineer also coordinates acquisition of materials and equipment, ensuring that resource allocation is adequate to complete the job. They prioritize the tasks within a project and must forecast risks. If an issue arises during construction, the project engineer needs to investigate it and implement necessary solutions or changes.
Moreover, while they supervise building progress, the project engineer coordinates plans and timelines with third-party contractors. They also guarantee that the job is completed within budget and meets building codes and regulations, as well as satisfies the client’s standards.
Additionally, project engineers might have to oversee bid analysis, process permits and conduct constructability reviews. Project engineers also supervise and train staff as needed and may have to organize team meetings. There is also the chance that they’ll have to manage multiple construction projects simultaneously. They communicate with other management parties to determine potential future projects and timing.
While project engineers occasionally work in an office environment during normal business hours, they typically spend most of their time at construction sites. Occasional travel to consult with clients and contractors may be required. Because of this, overtime is not uncommon, especially when commuting and as deadlines approach. Project engineers frequently act as the point of contact for clients regarding technical aspects of the job.
How to Become a Project Engineer
While not all construction project engineers have an engineering background, the career usually requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably with a concentration in construction. Extra science and math coursework is typically needed, too.
However, a master’s degree in engineering management or business administration can open doors to many more opportunities. For some project engineer positions, even for those outside of construction, a post-baccalaureate degree may be preferred by employers. Previous related experience, especially in a leadership position, might also be a requisite.
Project Engineer Salary
A project engineer’s salary depends on the amount of experience they have, in addition to their educational background. PayScale details that the median annual salary for a project engineer in construction is $60,049. Those entering the construction business as a project engineer with less than five years of experience can expect to earn an average of $58,000 per year. Project engineers with more than 20 years of expertise earn an average salary of $81,000, according to PayScale.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment will grow by 11 percent for those in construction management through 2026, which is faster than the national average for all occupations. This is attributable to how both residential and business areas will expand through the next decade and how infrastructure will require improvements.
Jefferson Online’s master’s degree in construction management provides all of the skills and knowledge required to lead a construction team as a project engineer. The online program teaches students how to employ Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, produce sustainable projects and deliver a global view to projects. Faculty members of the project-based degree program have real-world experience.