What does a construction engineer do? (With salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 August 2022

Published 29 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Pursuing a career in construction engineering can be an interesting path for you if you enjoy designing and have a talent for developing strong technical skills. Construction engineers work alongside construction managers and investors to manage the construction of infrastructure, including roads and bridges. Learning about their day-to-day duties and skills can help you decide if you want to find a job in the field. In this article, we answer, 'What does a construction engineer do?', explain how to find a job in this role and discuss how much you can make in construction engineering.

What does a construction engineer do?

Learning the answer to, 'What does a construction engineer do?' can help you set professional goals for yourself and decide if working in construction and infrastructure management is the right path for you. A construction engineer is responsible for managing large construction projects and ensuring that buildings comply with building regulations and architects' plans. They manage the construction of infrastructures such as roads, bridges, dams and public buildings. It's a highly responsible, senior role where you'd combine your construction and civil engineering knowledge with strong leadership and management skills. Common duties of construction engineers include:

  • managing the planning and designing processes of construction projects

  • calculating costs and preparing budget projections

  • preparing physical layouts for construction projects

  • overseeing the work of the engineering and construction teams

  • identifying and resolving all structural and technical issues

  • preparing appraisal reports

  • ensuring high quality of materials

  • performing technical bid analysis

  • working alongside construction managers to prepare work schedules

  • acting as a point-of-contact for investors and stakeholders

Related: Types of civil engineering jobs and their primary duties

How to find a job as a construction engineer

Construction engineering can be a highly rewarding career for those who love engineering or technology and want to use their technical skills to create buildings, roads or dams. Here are some important steps to take to increase your chances of succeeding as a construction engineer:

1. Obtain a formal degree

Being a construction engineer is a highly responsible role, which means it's necessary to obtain relevant professional qualifications to work as a construction engineer. One of the most popular ways to become a construction engineer is to obtain a relevant university degree. If you're thinking about pursuing a career in this field, you can increase your chances by choosing an undergraduate degree in construction or civil engineering. To qualify, it's often necessary to have A levels in maths, physics or geography and geology.

Related: How to become a structural engineer

2. Consider an extended diploma

If you're unsure about going to university, you can also consider getting your engineering qualifications by obtaining an extended diploma in construction engineering. For example, the BTEC Level 3 Diploma or Extended Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment. This diploma can help you qualify for an engineering technician role, which for many construction professionals is the first step to working in construction engineering.

3. Find an internship

Before completing your degree, consider finding your first internship in the field. Through a programme of this type, you'd get a chance to shadow experienced engineers and better understand their day-to-day responsibilities. Internships are also a valuable asset because they make your CV more attractive to potential employers and help you find a better job opportunity after graduating. You may even consider an internship that gives you a chance to work as a construction labourer, thanks to which you can better understand the different sides of working in the field.

Related: How To Become a Gas Engineer

4. Keep building your network

Networking is an important thing to do, regardless of the field you're in. As an aspiring construction engineer, it's important that you network with other construction and engineering professionals. It's also important to network with some of the biggest investors in the industry, such as local governments and private developers, as it allows you to better understand their standard expectations and requirements. Doing this also helps you stay up-to-date with innovations and changes in construction and civil engineering.

5. Continue improving your skills

After graduating and finding your first full-time job in construction engineering, it's important that you continue improving your professional qualifications. You can do this by developing new skills or undergoing professional training that your employer or supervisor suggests. For example, you can learn a new engineering or cost management software. Self-learning is a great, cost-efficient way to invest in your qualifications and demonstrate your ambition and persistence to the employer.

Key skills in construction engineering

Many employers require that candidates for construction engineering have extensive knowledge of engineering and strong interpersonal skills that allow them to work well with others. If you're an aspiring construction or civil engineer, here are some key skills to develop to increase your chances of success in this field:

Problem-solving

Just like all engineers, successful construction engineers are effective problem-solvers who use their analytical thinking to find innovative solutions to problems. If you want to increase your chances of success in the field, it's important that you learn how to effectively identify and assess problems that can occur during construction and look for their root causes. You can then communicate that information to investors and help them find alternative solutions to continue with the project.

Leadership and communication skills

Construction engineers are senior employees who are often responsible for overseeing the work of construction teams. It's important that they know how to effectively lead and motivate employees. Some of their other responsibilities include communicating with suppliers and construction companies. Having strong communication skills allows them to communicate their ideas and requirements clearly and concisely to avoid confusion and make sure all stages of the project go smoothly.

Related: The importance of leadership (with types and values)

Time management

Excellent time management skills are vital for construction engineers because it allows them to better delegate and prioritise work. One of their primary responsibilities is making sure that the construction team completes all stages of the project on time, which means it's necessary for them to remember important deadlines and follow the initial work schedule. For this reason, they often work with construction managers who help them determine work schedules for different teams and assign work.

Salary of a construction engineer

The national average salary of a construction engineer is £38,325 per year. After working a few years in the profession, you may have a chance to explore better-paid job opportunities in construction engineering because many employers want to pay more to experienced engineers with at least five years of professional experience. If you're passionate about construction engineering but unsure about managing constructions, you can consider becoming a civil engineer. In this role, you'd mostly focus on the designing, planning and analysing process. Civil engineers make on average £36,802 per year.

Read more: What is civil engineering? Definition and types

Other careers in construction engineering to consider

Construction and civil engineering are both really complex industries that offer interesting careers to people with technical abilities. Here are some additional careers in construction to take into consideration when developing your career plan:

1. Construction manager

National average salary: £53,537 per year

Primary duties: Construction managers plan, organise and evaluate construction projects. They share many of their responsibilities with construction engineers, but they rarely take care of troubleshooting complex structural issues simply because construction engineers have more advanced qualifications to do so. Managers are also responsible for creating work schedules and allocating responsibilities.

Read more: How to become a construction manager: a step-by-step guide

2. Cost estimator

National average salary: £32,516 per year

Primary duties: Cost estimators estimate and prepare budgets costs for large scale construction projects. They study plans and specifications, evaluate purchase offers and analyse costs of materials or labour. They also often work alongside construction managers and investors to clearly identify cost-related client needs.

Read more: How to become a construction estimator: a step-by-step guide

3. Field engineer

National average salary: £27,299 per year

Primary duties: Field engineers are responsible for inspecting and installing construction equipment. They may also assign employees to specific technologies and regularly report on the current state of the equipment that the construction staff uses. On a daily basis, they make sure every vehicle and piece of equipment works smoothly, which allows them to support the efforts of construction managers and engineers.

Salary figures reflect data listed on the quoted websites at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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