Difference Between Project Engineer & Project Manager

Project engineers and project managers oversee production and building projects, sometimes even together, but there are differences between their purposes and focuses.

Comparing Project Engineers to Project Managers

Project engineers and project managers help companies and clients develop and create new products, computer systems, and infrastructure. Project engineers, however, are more involved in the technical and mathematical aspects of the project.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Project Engineer Bachelor's Degree $66,963 2% (for all Architectural and Engineering Managers)
Project Managers Bachelor's Degree $72,014 -4% (for all Industrial Production Managers)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Project Engineers vs. Project Managers

Both of these professionals are meant to keep a project on schedule and within budget. They meet with clients and work on teams to complete the project. Project engineers help companies update their computer systems or ensure their proposed bridge is built safely. Project managers, on the other hand, decide on the feasibility of a project based on demand and cost, rather than physics calculations. Before looking more closely at each profession, it is important to note that these two can often work together on a project.

Project Engineers

When a project needs the scientific input of an engineer, project engineers are hired. They draw images of the product (such as cars or computers) or infrastructure (such as bridges or buildings) according to sound mathematical principles. They also adhere to specifications given to them by clients. The budget they build for the project is based on initial quotes from subcontractors and the suppliers of the raw materials. Along with creating the budget and timeline, project engineers educate clients on the technical aspects of proposed projects.

Job responsibilities of a project engineer include:

  • Identifying any technical issues the project may have
  • Traveling to the project site (building grounds or factory) to ensure everything is going according to plan
  • Updating any logs that track the progress or cost of the project
  • Testing the product or installing the computer system before getting it approved by the client

Project Managers

These professionals are responsible for many of the stages of planning and completing a project. First, they meet with the leaders of their company or with clients. This meeting may include drawing up rough plans for a building, production, or marketing project. They consider the cost and timeline as they organize the plan. After that, the project manager will put together a team of experts (engineers, architects, or even contractors). During the project, the manager will contact the stakeholders (the clients and CEOs who are backing the project) to keep them updated on the progress.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Assigning and delegating tasks to the team based on their skills and knowledge
  • Finding the resources needed for the project while keeping the budget in mind
  • Providing solutions to setbacks in an attempt to keep the project on schedule
  • Giving the project final approval before showing the product or infrastructure to the client

Related Careers

Architects and project engineers who assist on builds are similar in regards to their focus on safety, cost, and adherence to specifications. A career as a project manager is similar to a position as a certified financial manager because they both oversee budgets and maintain finances.

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