A List of Pros and Cons of Being a Construction Engineer

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 16, 2021

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.

A construction engineer plays a vital role in building and infrastructure projects, planning and overseeing much of the work. The role of a construction engineer entails important responsibilities, problem-solving skills and creativity. If you enjoy taking on a leadership role, a job as a construction engineer might appeal to you. In this article, we discuss what a construction engineer does and the benefits and drawbacks of the job are so you can make a well-informed career choice.

What does a construction engineer do?

Construction engineers plan, design and oversee many aspects of large construction projects. They might work on buildings, roads and other major projects, such as water irrigation systems. The position of a construction engineer sometimes includes overseeing the budget, hiring contractors and ensuring the enforcement of safety procedures and regulations. In general, a construction engineer makes sure that construction design gets properly implemented, that construction is up to building codes and that the project meets the needs of the client.

Related: Learn About Being a Construction Engineer

Pros of being a construction engineer

There are many benefits to choosing a career as a construction engineer, such as:

Enjoying high pay and positive job outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for construction engineers is $97,180. This is better than the median pay overall for civil engineers, which the BLS lists as $88,570. The job outlook for construction engineers is better than average, with positions expected to rise by 11% between 2020 and 2030. The average job growth rate for all positions in the U.S. is 8%.

Being part of a crucial profession

Construction engineers supervise projects that often provide important infrastructure to communities, including roadways, water systems and electricity. Construction engineers sometimes work with the local municipal government or elected officials to solve construction-related challenges, such as expanding roadways, building a railroad overpass or expanding public buildings. They also oversee projects like new shopping centers or entertainment venues, which are projects society tends to value.

Related: What Is Construction Engineering?

Displaying creativity

Construction engineers work to fulfill designs that sometimes need changes to accommodate structural or environmental challenges. They use creativity when coming up with a plan to execute a project, such as figuring out how to keep traffic moving while also doing significant work on a road. Some projects require a creative solution to solve a structural problem or to preserve an architecturally significant portion of a structure.

Related: 10 Ways To Improve Your Creative Problem-Solving Skills

Traveling

Working as a construction engineer can provide opportunities to go to different parts of the country or even overseas if you like to travel. A quality construction manager may travel to areas experiencing high growth where there might be more work. They also can travel to pursue projects they find interesting or challenging.

Building leadership skills

A construction engineer is a leader who solves small problems, such as figuring out scheduling issues or making sure a job site is fully staffed. Other challenges can be more significant, like changes in project design. As the construction engineer, you get to make decisions, solve problems and display leadership.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Cons of being a construction engineer

Before becoming a construction engineer, consider these cons of the position:

Having significant responsibility

Construction engineers contribute to the fundamental aspects of a project, including planning, budgeting and completion. Other people at the construction site look to you to make decisions and keep the project on schedule. Ultimately, if the project encounters problems, the clients or your employer may hold you responsible.

Making costly mistakes

If you make a mistake as a construction engineer, it can prove very costly to your career and the project you oversee. Errors can cause the project to go over budget, create delays or injure an employee. If you make a mistake, fixing the error might mean undoing some of the work already completed, which increases labor and materials costs.

Experiencing challenging conditions

Many construction projects take place outdoors. As a construction engineer, you often encounter difficult weather conditions, which can delay a project. If you choose a career where much of the work occurs outdoors, you can expect inclement weather, including rain, snow or heatwave.

Working unusual hours

A construction engineer might work long hours or at unusual times. During a project, the engineer usually is onsite from the beginning of work in the morning until the end of the day. You might also address some issues after hours, such as adjusting designs or responding to employee and client communications.

Traveling extensively to work sites

Although a company might have a central office, you likely will have some travel between work locations to oversee projects. This means you might not have much control over your commute, and how far you travel to work could vary. This travel can significantly add time to your workday and overall schedule.

Monitoring and experiencing hazards

A construction site can be a hazardous place to work. As a construction engineer, it's part of your job to enforce safety protocols. You might also personally experience or witness injuries. This adds another layer of responsibility and unique challenges to your position.

Tips for becoming a construction engineer

Here are a few tips to help you become a construction engineer:

Begin in high school

Getting started in high school can be helpful in becoming an engineer. Many high schools and junior colleges offer college preparatory courses in engineering. It's also possible to attain engineering-related internships to gather experience.

Get a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering

A college degree is an important step in becoming a construction engineer. The degree is the precursor to taking accreditation exams that allow you to work as a licensed engineer. Be sure to choose a program the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology has accredited. Otherwise, you might not qualify for the exams.

Take accreditation exams

To become a licensed engineer in most states, you have to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and then the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Usually, you only can take the FE exam after you have completed a bachelor's degree, although some states allow you to take it if you are close to finishing the degree and have work experience. After passing the FE, you're qualified to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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