Construction Engineering, General

Construction engineering explores math and physics and how they affect man-made structures, as well as project planning. Read on to see if a career in this dynamic profession might be right for you.

Is Construction Engineering for Me?

Career Details

Construction engineering is one of the branches of civil engineering. As a construction engineer, you'd be involved in the design and building of structures like commercial buildings, streets, water barriers or bridges; many construction engineers choose to specialize in one or more of these areas. Your knowledge and skills would vary with your specialty. For instance, in heavy construction, you'd do a lot of work underground so you'd know a lot about soils and rock. As a structural construction engineer, your expertise would include building with steel and concrete. Other specialty areas are mechanical construction, where you'd work on heating, cooling and drainage system projects, and electrical engineering, which focuses on circuitry and electrical systems. A job as a construction engineer may also involve the business aspects of your projects, such as planning and management, finances, budgeting, estimating and contracts.

Career Options

Construction engineers work for state, federal and local agencies, as well as for private construction, architecture and engineering consulting firms. As you gain experience, you might advance to project engineer, project supervisor or construction project manager, or become a company executive or design engineer. With business training, you could focus on cost control, programming or quality control.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the civil engineering profession in general was projected to have a 20% growth rate during the 2012-2022 decade, due in part to increased development of U.S. infrastructure (www.bls.gov). Payscale.com reported that the national salary for construction engineering managers was between $51,800 and $127,618 as of March 2014. Construction engineering supervisors earned between $39,453 and $91,383.

How Do I Work in Construction Engineering?

Undergraduate Education and Licensing

If you want to work in this profession, a good place to start is with a bachelor's degree in construction engineering. You'd study liquid, electrical and mechanical systems, soil and ground properties, ecology, physics, math and economics. You'd also learn about construction equipment, safety, engineering principles and project organization.

Once you graduate, you could seek entry-level engineering work in the private or public sectors; to work in the public sector, you must be licensed as a professional engineer (PE). In most states, this means having a degree from an engineering program accredited by the ABET (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology), plus four years of engineering work experience. You must also pass a two-part state exam.

Graduate Education

If you'd like a career doing research or teaching at a university, master's and doctoral degrees in construction engineering are also available, and feature concentrated studies and research in areas such as risk management or sustainability. Some online construction engineering programs exist, mainly at the graduate certificate or degree level.

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