How to Become a Project Engineer

Essential steps for getting in to this field:


1. Excel at calculus, geometry, algebra and physics in high school

2. Determine if this field is suited to your interests, qualities and traits

3. Pursue a bachelor’s degree in whatever field of engineering interests you

4. Find an internship while you’re a student (likely arranged by your school) that’s relevant to your field of engineering

5. Get an entry-level job after graduation 

6. Gain experience and become certification as a Professional Engineer 

7. Gain more and more experience in leadership roles

8. Apply for Project Engineer jobs


That’s the gist of it! Continue reading below to get a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career in this field. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as an overview of salary level expectations, a list of possible employers, actual job postings, and much more!



What Education Will I Need?

Employers will typically require that you have a bachelor’s degree in field of engineering that’s relevant to their area of operations. Some may also require that you have certification in project management, but many will accept experience in senior-level engineering roles in place of an education in project management.


High School Preparation: You can prepare for this career while you’re in high school by excelling in calculus, geometry, algebra and physics. This will both help lay a foundation for the work you’ll be doing, and help you qualify for engineering schools.





What is a Project Engineer?

A project engineer is a project management professional with a background in engineering who is responsible for directing a team during the entire lifecycle of a major and complex engineering project. They are the technical expert that leads and ensures consistency, design and functionality of a project throughout its execution. 



What Does a Project Engineer Do?

Although their duties can vary from job to job, project engineers are typically responsible for performing the following duties and tasks:


• Developing project objectives by reviewing project proposals and plans

• Determining project responsibilities by identifying project phases and elements

• Assigning personnel to phases and elements

• Reviewing bids from contractors

• Determining project specifications by studying product design, customer requirements, and performance standards

• Completing technical studies and preparing cost estimates

• Determining project schedule by studying project plan and specifications, and calculating time requirements

• Maintaining project schedule by monitoring project progress, coordinating activities and resolving issues

• Controlling project costs by approving expenditures and administering contractor contracts

• Preparing project status reports by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing information and trends

• Maintaining a safe and clean working environment by enforcing procedures, rules, and regulations

• Maintaining project database by entering and backing up data, or overseeing this task



What Experience Will I Need?

Most employers will want to see that you have engineering experience, as well as experience in a leadership role, to ensure that you can handle the responsibilities that come with the job. Preferably, this experience will also be in their industry of operation, as they will expect you to be familiar with processes that are specific to that industry. 



What Licensing/Certification Will I Need?

You will need to be licensed as a Professional Engineer (“PE” - United States; “P.Eng.” - Canada) in order to exercise direct control of a public project and to supervise other engineers and engineering technicians. You will also need to have a designation in order to sell your own engineering services publicly.


If you are not licensed, you can still work on engineering projects under the supervision of a licensed engineer. This means you don’t need to be licensed as a Professional Engineer to get an entry-level engineering job.



What Traits Do I Need? 

If you have the following personal traits you'll not only be well suited for this profession, you’ll be a standout:


• You excel at math and physics, and have a keen interest in those areas

• You have an aptitude or interest for moving into a project management role

• You have leadership qualities, including initiative 

• You are willing to take responsibility and be accountable 

• You have a customer service-oriented approach to projects

• You have an understanding of how to manage project finances and staff

• You’re willing, and able, to make important decisions 

• You’re interested in a well-paying career that blends technical skills with management skills



What is the Salary of a Project Engineer?

Project engineers typically earn a salary of anywhere between $52,350 and $155,200 in the United States. Their salary can vary based on factors such as their level of experience and education, the specific region in which they work, level of responsibility involved in the job, and other factors. 



More About Salary Levels

As mentioned above, the salary level you could earn as a project engineer can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education and certification

• Your level of experience

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors


Unfortunately no salary information for “Project Engineers” could not be found from reliable sources. We can however, get t good idea of what you would earn in this profession by looking at salary figures for workers in closely related occupations, such as “Civil Engineer” and “Project/Construction Managers”.


Project Engineer Salary - Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the overall average salary of Albertans working in the “Civil Engineers” occupational group is $98,342 per year, and that of workers in the “Construction Managers” is $100,284. Similar statistics from reliable sources could not be found for the rest of Canada.


Project Engineer Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall median salary level of Americans working in the “Civil Engineers” occupational group is $88,240 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries are below $52,900, and the highest 10% of salaries are above $129,850. 

Meanwhile, workers in the “Construction Managers” occupational group earn a median salary of $87,400, with the lowest 10% of salaries being below $52,350 and the highest 10% being above $155,200.



Who Creates Jobs?

Jobs for project engineers can exist with virtually any company involved in engineering projects. This could be as an in-house employee of a company that undertakes internal projects, or as an employee of a company that’s contracted to do outside work.


Common types of organizations that employ project engineers include (but are not limited to):


• Engineering consulting companies (environmental, civil, structural, mechanical, industrial, etc.)

• Consumer, commercial and industrial goods manufacturers 

• Construction companies

• Hardware, software, application and IT companies

• Transportation companies

• Government agencies and departments (at all levels)

• Aerospace and tech companies

• Natural resource and mining companies



Job Postings

Our job board below has postings for project engineers in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 


What are Careers Similar?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Project Engineer”:


• Chief Operating Officer (COO)

• Civil Engineer

• Construction Manager

• Cost Estimator

• Environmental Engineer

• Infrastructure Engineer

• Project Manager

• Site Engineer



What Are Scholarships for Getting Into This Field? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a Project Engineer. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our “Any Field of Study 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!




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


• Occupational Profile: “Civil Engineer.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 8, 2017.

• Occupational Profile: “Project Management Professional.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved February 8, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Civil Engineers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 8, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Construction Managers.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved February 8, 2017.

• Career Hub: “What is involved in a project engineering job?” (April 28, 2014). Randstad. Retrieved February 8, 2017.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a project engineer. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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