Become a Military Engineer: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn the steps to becoming a military engineer. Read about the educational requirements, training, licensure and experience needed to begin a career in this field.

Should I Become a Military Engineer?

As a military engineer, you could be responsible for building, maintaining, controlling and sometimes destroying structures and vehicles used for military operations. There are many kinds of military engineers based with different branches of the armed forces. Your job might involve conducting specific types of combat operations, such as road construction or power generation. You can enlist either before or after you begin your studies to become an engineer. If you already have completed a four-year degree as an engineer, you can become an officer through the officer training program in your chosen branch. Civil engineers are also considered military engineers, and can be pursued by either enlistees or officers. In a military career field, you can expect to work long hours at times, and there is always the chance of being placed in highly-dangerous situations.

Career Requirements

Required Education A bachelor's degree in a field related to engineering is necessary, as is a high score on the military-administered 'ASVAB' (or 'AFOQT' for USAF applicants.) Graduate-level education will also be helpful towards further career advancement.
Other Requirements Additional licensing and accreditation is sometimes necessary for engineers seeking to participate in especially high-level, dangerous, or technical work.
Projected Job Growth (2015-2022) Little or no change is anticipated for the military's need for engineering officers in the foreseeable future.
Salary Varies widely depending on the engineer's rank and what military branch he or she serves in.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in an Area of Engineering from a ABET Accredited School

The Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology (ABET) recognizes many engineering programs that meet the requirements for a military engineer in all branches of the armed forces. Mechanical, electrical, civil or industrial engineering are all possible choices for a military engineer. Frequently, ABET accredited engineering degrees consist of four-year intensive programs centered on mathematics, physics and technical writing.

Step 2: Get Appropriately Licensed

While not all military positions require licensing, professional engineering designations may improve employment in higher ranking positions. Frequently, graduates become professional engineers (PEs). The first step to becoming a PE involves passing the Fundamentals of Engineering test via the NCEES (National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying) agency. Aspiring engineers must then develop at least four years of work experience before they are eligible for taking the PE test.

Step 3: Gain Experience Working As an Engineer and Finish the PE Licensing

There are many different work opportunities for future military engineers. Engineering organizations and educational institutions may offer work for entry-level engineers. Organizations like the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) offer internship programs for students in certain areas of engineering. Educational institutions may offer internships and jobs for engineers that focus on working for a private company as an employee.

With at least four years of experience, military engineers may take the PE exam. The test involves using and relating skills gained from work in solving problems. Engineers who pass the PE exam are fully certified professional engineers and can work for the public and make bids on certain government contracts.

Step 4: Become an Engineering Officer in the Armed Forces

Aspiring military engineers often need some qualifications beyond general engineering education and work experience. For instance, engineering officers going into the US Army Corps of Engineers need to pass physical examinations and pass the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC). Tests like the BOLC are required because in some instances officers oversee many enlisted engineers in completing tasks and combat operations. Many tasks military engineers complete are for combat operations, but a significant percentage are civilian projects such as dam building, power allocation and bridge building.

Step 5: Pursue Graduate-Level Education Opportunities for Further Career Advancement

One major advantage of being an officer in the military is the fact that careers in the armed services often provide tuition benefits which can make furthering your education beyond a bachelor's degree more cost-effective. Engineers in particular can profit greatly from enrolling in a master's or doctoral degree program, because they are refining their already highly-specialized knowledge and skills. Rank promotions in the military are based on the merit of an individual's contributions, so becoming an especially accomplished engineer is a surefire way to be noticed by your superior officers

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