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. 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 at a Glance
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree; graduate-level education for advancement|
|Degree Field(s)||Mechanical, electrical, civil, or industrial engineering|
|Other Requirements||Additional licensing is sometimes necessary|
|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
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: Gain Experience Working as an Engineer
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. Aspiring engineers must gain at least four years of work experience, before they are eligible for taking the Professional Engineer (PE) test.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering
- Biological and Agricultural Engineering
- Biomedical and Medical Engineering
- Ceramic Sciences
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Drafting and Design Engineering
- Electrical Engineering and Electronics
- Engineering - Architectural
- Engineering Mechanics
- Engineering Physics
- Environmental Engineering
- Forest Engineering
- Geological Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Manufacturing Engineering
- Materials Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Metallurgical Engineering
- Mining Engineering
- Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Ocean Engineering
- Petroleum Engineering
- Plastics Engineering
- Systems Engineering
- Textile Technologies
Step 3: Get Appropriately Licensed
While not all military positions require licensing, professional engineering designations may improve employment in higher ranking positions. Frequently, graduates eventually become PEs. The first step to becoming a PE involves passing the Fundamentals of Engineering test via the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying Agency. 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). These 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
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're 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.
In summary, the steps to becoming a military engineer include earning a bachelor's degree in engineering, gaining experience working as an engineer, getting appropriately licensed, becoming an engineering officer in the Armed Forces, and pursuing graduate-level education opportunities.