Building Engineer: Job Description & Career Info
Discover what the work responsibilities of a building engineer are. Learn about salary and employment outlook as well as education requirements to determine if this is the right career choice.
Building engineers act in a similar capacity to construction managers, utilizing a mixture of construction knowledge and engineering principles. Building engineers analyze reports, help design structures, and manage contracts and budgets. They also create construction schedules and keep construction sites in compliance with applicable laws.
How to Become a Building Engineer
Building engineers typically have a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Engineering with an emphasis in construction. Courses may include engineering mechanics and construction surveying, safety, equipment and estimating. Building engineers may need a professional engineers' (P.E.) license.
Building engineers are involved in technical aspects of construction projects, so attention to detail is important. They also must have excellent math skills and the ability to troubleshoot on-site problems and analyze plans. Strong communication skills are paramount to make sure information flows smoothly from design to construction.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), jobs in civil engineering are expected to grow 20% from 2012-2022. The BLS reported that civil engineers made a median annual salary of $79,340 as of May 2012.
Although some tasks overlap those of a building engineer, construction managers oversee sub-contractor activities and contract preparation instead of focusing on structural engineering. They also communicate progress and issues to clients, hire and schedule subcontractors, make sure expenses are kept within the budget and motivate workers to meet deadlines. For larger projects, a bachelor's degree in engineering, construction management or architecture may be required.
However, many construction managers have less education but many years of experience working in the construction industry. Professional certification from the Construction Management Association of America and the American Institute of Constructors could also provide a competitive advantage when seeking a job. Based on predictions from the BLS, employment of construction managers is expected to increase by 16% during the 2012-2022 decade. The BLS also determined that the median yearly salary for these construction professionals was $82,790 in 2012.
For those more interested in designing buildings and calculating construction costs, becoming an architect may be the right career move. Architects discuss ideas with clients, calculate material and labor expenses, produce detailed drawings, direct drafters in the development of blueprints, visit construction sites to observe progress and put together contracts.
A bachelor's degree in architecture usually takes five years to complete and is required by most employers. Licensure is also required by all states and involves earning an architect degree, passing the Architect Registration Exam and completing an internship with a licensed architect.
Over 107,000 architects were employed in the U.S., as seen in 2012 figures from the BLS, and architects not in the landscape or naval industry received a median annual income of $73,090. Job opportunities for architects are projected to increase by 17% from 2012-2022, and the BLS stated that many new jobs will be in the sustainable design industry.
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