How to Become a Military Engineer

How to Become a Military Engineer

Can you take and give orders? Are you interested in protecting the interests of your country, while pursuing your interests in engineering? Are you willing to be placed in dangerous and high-pressured situations?


If so, a career as a military engineer is worth considering. Here are some quick highlights of working in this field:


• An opportunity to have your master’s degree in engineering paid for

• The opportunity to learn combat, leadership and project management skills

• An excellent compensation and benefits package

• The opportunity to forge close friendships and travel


If you want to know more about the ins and outs of this career, then read on; we’ll fill you in on the details, including an overview of what military engineers do, how much they can earn, and what you’ll need to become one!



Education Needed to Become a Military Engineer

To become a military engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in engineering. The military will use your major field of study (Canada) or an aptitude test (United States) to determine what role will suit you best. 


For example, if you are a civil engineering graduate, you are likely to be placed in a role that makes effective use of that skill set.




Military Engineer: General Job Description

A military engineer is responsible for providing full support to the wide range of engineering duties in the Armed Forces. They can help build structures, develop civil works programs and even provide combat support.


They provide their expertise in areas such as mobility, counter-mobility, survivability and general engineering.



Areas of Specialty 

There are many kinds of specialized military engineers based with different branches of the Armed Forces in Canada and the United States, including (but not limited to):


• Construction Engineer

• Geospatial Engineer

• Watercraft Engineer

• Environmental Science/Engineer

• Naval Combat Systems Engineer

• Technical Engineer

• Heavy Equipment Engineer

• Horizontal Construction Engineer



General Job Duties of a Military Engineer 

The specific job duties you would perform can vary quite a bit from one area of specialty to the next. However, it’s likely you would be responsible for some, or all, of the following tasks:


• Supervising, serving or assisting as a member of a team when they are tackling rough terrain in combat situations

• Fighting in battle as an infantry soldier, if necessary

• Building bridges, making roads, constructing obstacles 

• Repairing damaged buildings, vehicles and equipment

• Clearing obstacles for troops and creating obstacles for enemy troops

• Firing machine and anti-tank guns

• Clearing minefields using specialized equipment

• Administering and controlling the use of manpower, funds and materials

• Preparing or approving construction drawings, designs, specifications

• Estimating the costs of projects in terms of manpower, money and materials

• Planning, developing and implementing combat engineer field training, which involves live-fire and demolitions, as well as military engineering tasks and projects






Personal Traits Needed

Your chances of finding fulfillment and a high degree of job satisfaction, are much higher if you have the following personal characteristics and traits: 


• You’re willing to be placed in highly-dangerous situations

• You have self-discipline, confidence and intelligence

• You’re physically and mentally fit to perform under pressure

• You have the ability to make quick decisions

• You’re capable of bearing numerous responsibilities

• You're willing to take orders, and give orders

• You have the ability to use hand and power tools

• You enjoy working outdoors, and are willing to travel 



Military Engineer Salary: How Much You Could Earn


The starting salary for a fully-trained Combat Engineer is $49,400 per year. The starting salary for a fully-trained Engineer Officer is $51,000 per year. 


Regular promotions through the ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service, which typically include a raise in pay. For example, once promoted to the rank of Captain, the salary is approximately $73,000 per year (2017 Figures).


Please Note: Salary levels may be higher based on previous training, education and experience.


United States

If starting in the military as a Private (enlisted soldier), you would earn a salary of $18,802.80 per year. If starting as a Second Lieutenant (Officer) you would earn a salary of $35,668.80 per year.


With years of experience, and with regular promotions based on time served and completion of different levels of required training, this would increase. For example, if you advance to Major, and have 6 years of experience, your pay would be $71,604 per year.


Please Note: The salary, or ‘basic pay’, you would receive is only one part of the total compensation package. Your pay would also include tax benefits, possible tuition coverage, as well as allowances for housing, total health care and more.



Career Advancement Opportunities

Regular promotions through the ranks would take place based on your successful completion of required training, and on the length of time you’ve served as a military engineer.


As you climb the ranks, you would be given more responsibility, and be entitled to an increase in pay, and possibly an increase in other financial benefits (if applicable). 


Life After the Military: Engineers in the military are trained in leadership and how to effectively manage resources, people and time. When you return to civilian life, you may be qualified for related civilian roles (such as roles in engineering, construction and project management), based on the training and experience you acquired during your time with the military.



Scholarships for Becoming a Military Engineer

The Applicable Majors section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as a Military Engineer. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Careers Similar to Military Engineer

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Military Engineer, as they may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities.


• Airline Pilot

• Civil Engineer 

• Civil Engineering Technologist

• Conservation Officer

• Environmental Engineer 

• Helicopter Pilot

• Military Officer

• Structural Engineer




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a military engineer:


• National Defence & The Canadian Armed Forces: “Engineer Officer” (n.d.). Government of Canada website. Retrieved January 21, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Military Careers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 21, 2017.

• Careers & Jobs: “Engineer Officer" (12A). (n.d.). United States Army website. Retrieved January 20, 2017.



Relevant Areas of Study in Our System

We have career guides written for over 60 subjects/majors, some of which are applicable to becoming a military engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with a degree in one of these fields!


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