Construction engineering is at the core and is the basis of so much of our day to day lives, our business and economy, our homes and families, and more. Still, it’s easy to overlook the field entirely, or to lump it into broader or more general categories. If you’re interested in construction engineering though, you’re looking for the right kind of information to help you see what the field is all about, and determine whether or not this is a degree program and future career which is right for you. Use this guide to help arm yourself with the knowledge you need about construction engineering.
What to Expect from a Construction Engineering Program
So, what is construction engineering? Is it simply construction? Or is it a different name for a broad branch of engineering, such as civil engineering? At its heart, construction engineering is a piece or component of civil engineering, which also incorporates other subfields such as transportation engineering, environmental engineering and geotechnical engineering.
Construction engineering itself falls into the structural engineering discipline of civil engineering. But construction itself isn’t just about designing and building the buildings themselves, it’s about the roads, the infrastructure, the machines that get the job done, industries of all kinds with their own needs, and much more from there. So construction engineering has its hands in a lot of pies, and can itself fall into many different categories.
As you begin your studies with construction engineering, you’ll be covering many different topics and ideas. You’ll need a strong background in mathematics and the sciences, and you’ll need to take more specific courses on the natural and earth sciences, such as geology. Learning about different materials, electrical systems, weather and disaster, resources, transportation needs and more are all hugely important as well.
Many individuals who eventually specialize in construction engineering begin their journey by graduating with a bachelors in civil engineering. From there, they may go back and get a masters or doctorate level degree specializing in construction engineering. However, there are some bachelors level programs which do focus on and provide majors in a subfield such as construction engineering.
Online Construction Engineering Degrees
Unlike some other branches of engineering, construction engineering degrees are offered online, at just about every level. As mentioned above, you may want to take a bachelors in civil engineering before specializing and getting a masters or doctorate in construction engineering, or even another subfield within this area. All of these should be available online.
The key thing for you to do will be to remember to find a fully accredited program. The accreditation will come from ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which governs all programs in the country in all branches of engineering. Attending an accredited school is of the essence, as it is what will enable you to take the national examinations which are required to first become an Engineering Intern, and then to become a full PE, Professional Engineer.
Job Opportunities for Construction Engineers
Construction engineers will have no shortage of job opportunities in different fields and industries. One huge employer and source of need is the government, and their need for the building and repair of infrastructure on every level. But construction for private residences and communities, for commercial and industrial applications, and more, is always needed.
Construction engineers can take a career path which leads to them becoming more of a project manager or supervisorial role, or they may focus on different and specific aspects of construction and development depending on need and interest. Related branches and specialties include environmental engineering, industrial engineering, and more, including health and safety engineers. There’s also a great opportunity for construction engineers in terms of beginning their own businesses and taking on entrepreneurial roles and career paths.
Is There a Demand for Construction Engineers?
As mentioned, construction engineers are grouped into the family of civil engineers. Civil engineering is the largest single branch of engineering as a whole. As of 2008, there were over 278,000 positions in the United States for civil engineers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is expected to grow for the next decade at a much quicker than average rate.
By 2018, the projection is for about 346,000 jobs for civil engineers, which represents about a 24% growth. Clearly, there’s a strong demand for construction engineers, whether they end up working under the auspices of the larger civil engineering family, or they end up finding opportunities in environmental, industrial or other fields and branches.
How Much do Construction Engineers Get Paid?
The BLS shows from their May 2010 Occupational Employment Survey that civil engineers earned a mean annual wage of about $82,250. This is clearly a very high level, and more than most people would imagine for something with “construction” in its name. Don’t let that word fool you, as construction engineers of course undergo rigorous training and are highly skilled and qualified.
The top 25% of the field earned $98,000 over that period of time, and the top 10% earned even more, over $119,000, which is pretty phenomenal. Of course, earnings will vary dependant on many things. This will include where you’re located, what kind of industry you’re in or employment you have, how much experience you have, and what level of education you received.
Construction engineering is everywhere. Building homes. Repairing infrastructure. Government buildings and projects. Commercial enterprises and private business. Industries of all kinds. Construction engineers therefore find themselves in a highly enviable position of having many lucrative job opportunities available to them, as well as finding themselves in a diverse and exciting line of work.
You can pick and choose exactly what you want to do and what type of employment you want to have, and you’ll be in a line of work that’s always in need. If all of this sounds good to you, then it’s time to get started down the path of getting your construction engineering degree.