Become a Commissioning Engineer: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Find out how to become a commissioning engineer. Research education requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in commission engineering.

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Do I Want to Be a Commissioning Engineer?

Commissioning engineers ensure that all aspects of a building or construction project are properly designed, installed, tested and maintained. They perform troubleshooting tasks, monitor progress, perform tests, conduct audits, assist in financial improvements, write reports and assist clients. They can specialize in a variety of industries including electrical, civil or mechanical engineering.

Commissioning engineers have many job duties in common with construction managers as well as electrical, civil and mechanical engineers. They work in a comfortable office environment much of the time, but travel might be required to address problems or needs that arise, as well as to monitor a project's progress. Some of these professionals have to work overtime to complete project deadlines or meet with clients.

Job Requirements

Most commissioning engineers have a bachelor's degree in engineering as well as some professional experience in their chosen field. The following table contains the most common requirements for becoming a commissioning engineer, according to online job listings in February 2013:

Common Requirements
Degree LevelBachelor's degree preferred by most employers
Degree FieldElectrical, mechanical or civil engineering
LicensureLicensure may be required by some employers
ExperienceAt least 2 years for most employers
Key SkillsAbility to work independently and multitask, ability to work with a team, problem-solving skills, excellent writing and speaking skills, highly motivated, attention to detail, good organizational skills and professionalism
Technical Skills Experience with commissioning electrical systems, knowledge of PV, HV or MV systems, experience with SCADA/DCS and gas compression PLC control, understanding of steam, compressed air, chilled water, HVAC, plumbing, automation systems and process piping systems and industry safety procedures
Computer SkillsKnowledge of Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, Access, Visio, PowerPoint, and Project, DOE-2, eQUEST, Energy Pro, AutoCAD, and SQL
Additional SkillsWillingness to travel and work in harsh weather conditions a plus, must have a valid driver's license for some positions

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Prospective commissioning engineers should consider enrolling in a bachelor's degree program in electrical, mechanical or civil engineering. Most engineering programs require students to take courses in math and science in addition to courses that are specific to the field of study. A mechanical engineering degree program may include coursework in applied thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, machine design, statics and manufacturing processes. An electrical engineering program may include coursework in electronics, signals and systems and applied electromagnetics. A civil engineering program may include coursework in surveying, biological processes in environmental engineering, materials science and engineering and transportation engineering.

Success Tip

  • Join an internship program. Some schools and companies offer internship programs that can provide real-world experience in a chosen field of engineering. This experience can be a valuable asset to any potential commissioning engineer.

Step 2: Take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Exam

This is a voluntary option, but earning an FE designation through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) can help prove a candidate's competency and knowledge in the field. The FE exam is typically taken at the end of a student's degree program or soon after graduation. Passing the FE exam is the first step to earning a professional engineer (PE) license.

Step 3: Obtain Work Experience

Commissioning engineers can gain professional experience in their chosen field of engineering through an entry-level or junior engineering position. The job duties of entry-level electrical project engineers might include maintaining documents and records, designing hardware and software control systems, following the fabrication of design projects and maintaining customer contact to ensure project goals. A junior mechanical engineer might conduct studies, support technology development, design prototypes and products, document results and perform evaluations. The experience obtained through a junior or entry-level position can help engineers obtain a more advanced commissioning engineer position.

Step 4: Get Licensed

Some employers may prefer applicants who have attained licensure as a professional engineer (PE). After earning the FE designation and meeting the 4 years of required work experience under the supervision of a licensed engineer, applicants must pass appropriate state licensing exams. In some states, PEs need to participate in continuing education in order to maintain their license. Since requirements vary by state, applicants should check with their respective state boards for approved programs and opportunities.

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