Careers in Construction Engineering

by Chris Neary | August 23, 2011 2:07 pm

Construction engineers usually focus on a certain type of construction project. With a major in construction engineering, you’ll be prepared for work in any of the following types of projects.

Building: These construction engineers usually focus on commercial building construction—houses or business buildings.

Heavy/Highway: These construction engineers manage highway, bridge, airport, water and wastewater treatment plant projects. The work can be in remote locations. Much of the work is excavation and underground work so the curriculum emphasizes geology and soil mechanics.

Mechanical: You can manage the installation of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and plumbing systems. Many of the mechanical projects on buildings are construction projects in their own right. Mechanical contractors often do their own design on smaller projects.

Electrical: Electrical construction engineers manage the construction of electrical systems. You’ll take the same circuits courses as electrical engineers but also learn about the construction side of the business.

Construction Engineers Career Track Positions

See a construction contractor organizational chart[1] (pdf)

Vice President/Operations Manager

Manages staff of senior project managers, project managers and superintendents. Responsible for financial profitability of construction operations. May be involved in marketing and business development and client relationships.

Senior Project Manager/Project Manager

Responsible for total project performance: cost budgets, project schedules, contract with clients, contracts with subcontractors, bidding and awarding subcontracts and purchase orders. Manages staff of superintendent, project engineers, office engineers, assistant project engineers, field engineers and support staff for each project.

A project manager is the main contact person with each client and the designers (architects and engineers). He/she has overall responsibility for the project safety plan, profits, quality and schedule. Position leads typically to senior project manager, then to project executive and possibly to an officer’s position such as vice president or operations manager as his/her career develops.


A superintendent is responsible for day-to-day scheduling and supervision of all construction operations on the project. This person monitors quality of construction, enforcement of all safety policies and performance of subcontractors. He/she provides support to the project manager as required.

Project Engineer/Assistant Project Engineer

A project engineer is an entry level position reporting to the project manager. He/she assists project manager and superintendent as required.  Responsibilities increase with experience starting with shop drawings, requests for information, document control and field operations support to the superintendent. Position typically involves a career track that includes construction cost estimating and construction site field engineering.

  1. See a construction contractor organizational chart:

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