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Lead Construction Engineer: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a lead construction engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree program, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

Lead construction engineers oversee projects, communicate design ideas to other professionals, and are sometimes in charge of construction budgets. They need a bachelor's degree in construction or civil engineering and have the option of obtaining licensure for increased job opportunities.

Essential Information

Construction engineers oversee projects by combining their knowledge of engineering and construction methods with resource and human management skills. They analyze topographical studies and site plans to determine the safest and most efficient way to build a structure. Construction engineers may also be in charge of selecting the proper materials such as concrete and pilings.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Licensure not required for entry-level positions, but can allow experienced professionals to move into senior positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% (for civil engineers)
Median Salary (2015)* $82,220 (for civil engineers)

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Lead construction engineers need to be comfortable alternating between indoor and outdoor work environments. Lead construction engineers must be comfortable communicating design ideas because they will be working with other professionals including construction workers, architects, and urban designers. In some cases, they may be in charge of costs and keeping a project under budget, so budgeting skills can be helpful.

Education Requirements

Lead construction engineers need a bachelor's degree in construction or civil engineering. Construction engineering programs provide the most relevant coursework but there are few of these programs available. Individuals may choose civil engineering programs, which are more numerous and teach many of the same concepts.

Both construction and civil engineering programs include non-engineering requirements in math and science. Math requirements consist of a sequence in calculus plus coursework in differential equations and statistics. Science requirements include a physics sequence and general chemistry. The engineering curricula include courses in structural analysis, materials, and thermodynamics. Construction engineering curricula have additional construction coursework such as construction methods and human resource management.

Programs should be accredited by ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. According to ABET, many state licensing boards require applicants to have graduated from an accredited program. As of September 2016, according to a program search on the ABET website, there were 16 approved construction engineering programs but more than 240 approved civil engineering programs.

Licensing Requirements

Individuals who wish to become lead construction engineers may need to be licensed. This process requires passing two exams administered by the National Council for Examiners of Engineering and Surveying. The first is the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which may be taken near the completion of a bachelor's program. Following four years of work experience, individuals may sit for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

Those who wish to become lead construction engineers need to complete a bachelor's degree in construction or civil engineering at an ABET-accredited institution. While entry-level positions in construction engineering don't typically require licensure, lead construction engineers might need licensure involving two different exams and a combination of work experience.

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