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Construction Engineer: Job Description, Outlook and Duties

Learn about the responsibilities and job duties of a construction engineer. Get a quick view of the educational requirements as well as details about common employment industries and career outlook.

Essential Information

A construction engineer is a civil engineer that designs, manages and oversees projects within the construction industry. These projects may include rebuilding roadways and designing buildings. Their job outlook has been positive but can fluctuate based on economic conditions.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Common Project Specialties Building, electrical, mechanical, highway or heavy
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 20% (for all civil engineers) *
Average Salary (2014) $87,130 annually (for all civil engineers) *

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Construction Engineer

Construction engineers are key cogs to successfully completing a construction project. The projects that they work on might include designing a drainage and sewage system, constructing a building or developing railroads or roadways. Construction engineers often focus on a specific type of construction project. Some of these specialties are:

  • Building - commercial housing or business building
  • Electrical - electrical systems
  • Mechanical - plumbing, heating or air conditioning
  • Highway or Heavy - bridges, airports, highways or water waste

Construction engineers often use computers when producing and analyzing their designs for a project. Their job requires being able to put together a good team to complete a project. Construction engineers need to possess the proper knowledge of estimating, planning and controlling the costs associated with construction projects. They may have an engineering degree and some construction work experience, or they may obtain a bachelor's degree in construction engineering.

Construction engineers do a lot of their work from offices. They also work on location at job sites to visually inspect the work being performed. They usually work 40-hour weeks; however, some jobs require more time based on deadlines or design issues.

Job Duties of Construction Engineers

A construction engineer wears many hats when directing and assessing a project. They will survey the area where the job is to take place, paying special attention to environmental issues or government codes that need to be considered. Before a job starts, they might prepare reports on their findings and consult with others who have a hand in the project. Those parties might include environmental associations, government agencies and third-party construction companies. Construction engineers need to have a strong understanding of building codes, laws and regulations that might affect their projects.

They must estimate and determine the total cost of a project. The associated costs can include:

  • Site inspections
  • Tests regarding sewage, drainage or elevation levels
  • Materials
  • Equipment
  • Labor costs

Construction engineers manage a variety of parties involved in any given job. They are also responsible for supervising a job to its completion while paying special attention to the allotted budget for the project as a whole. They must have good communication, interpersonal and leadership skills. They should be able to pay meticulous attention to detail. Construction engineers should also have strong analytical, math and problem solving skills.

Career Outlook for Construction Engineers

The job sector of civil engineering as a whole, which included construction engineers, was expected to see a growth of 20% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Engineering remains one of the highest-paying industries for college graduates. As of May 2014, civil engineers earned an average wage of $87,130 per year.

Construction engineers can work in a variety of areas within the construction industry, including contracting and design. Management training can lead to positions as a cost engineer, a project superintendent, an operations manager or a safety and design engineer.

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