What Does a Project Engineer Do? (With Skills and Salary)
A project engineer plans and monitors the process of project completion for construction and technical projects. They're highly skilled in leadership, organisation and communication. If you're interested in becoming a project engineer, learning more about what they do and how much they can earn can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what project engineers do, describe the requirements for becoming a project engineer, detail their work environment and review their average annual salary.
What does a project engineer do?
A project engineer manages a team during the entire life cycle of a technical or engineering project. This professional ensures the design, consistency and functionality of a project throughout its execution. While their duties and responsibilities vary depending on the industry, project engineers typically perform the following tasks:
Prepare and schedule: Project engineers coordinate and monitor all assigned projects and tasks within the structure of a project.
Communicate effectively: During daily interactions with clients, project engineers interpret their requirements and needs to provide updates on a project's completion and timeline.
Maintain quality control: Project engineers implement processes for ensuring quality in every area, including team dynamics, personnel performance, planning, scheduling and budget.
Submit reports: A project manager may submit frequent reports to a client or to the administrative board on the project status and potential alterations to the current plan.
Monitor compliance: There are rules and regulations in place to ensure safety for team members, the environment and project engineers. This aims to ensure all staff members comply with them in all aspects of the project.
Review engineering deliverables: Project engineers frequently review the parameters of their projects and initiate appropriate corrective actions throughout the project life cycle to ensure their team can complete them within the given timeline.
Related: What Does a Management Engineer Do? (And How to Become One)
What kind of education does a project engineer need?
While their education varies by field, most project engineers hold a bachelor's degree in engineering, business management or construction management. Some project engineers choose to earn a bachelor's degree in engineering management. The courses offered within an engineering management program include an introduction to controllers, basic business practices, manufacturing processes, industrial motors, technical communications and accounting.
Project engineers can also get a master's degree in engineering management or business administration to advance their careers. This program is ideal for project engineers who are interested in moving into management positions. It includes advanced instruction in entrepreneurship, safety management and leadership.
Related: 10 Highest Paying Engineering Jobs
Training for project engineers
Many project engineers learn the specific methods and technology related to their role during on-the-job training, which usually lasts for six to 12 months. Some project engineers take training courses to learn more about overseeing specific engineering projects, managing complex information systems and supervising a crew of professionals.
During schooling, project engineers may get hands-on training through internships. Students can choose to complete an internship in a specific field to learn more about the different processes, software and techniques involved in project management and engineering roles. Some master's programs require students to undergo at least one internship to prepare them for careers after graduation.
Related: How to Write a Project Engineer Resume (With an Example)
Important skills for project engineers
Project engineers can develop their skills to advance their careers and develop as individuals. To be successful as a project engineer, you need both technical abilities and interpersonal skills, including:
Organisation is the ability to manage time, prioritise tasks and keep a workspace in order. Project engineers must be able to prioritise the workloads, needs and challenges of all team members, making the need for organisational skills very important. The ability to remain organised allows a project engineer to make decisions quickly and help their team stay on schedule. A strong organisational ability is also important because it allows project engineers to teach their colleagues how to develop it in their work.
Read more: Top Organisational Skills for Your Resume and Workplace
Problem-solving is the ability to recognise an issue, identify the cause and propose effective solutions within a reasonable and practical timeframe. Because project engineers are responsible for the engineering aspects of a project, they must be good at developing appropriate solutions for problems as they arise. Project engineers gather all the data and facts related to an obstacle and create an informed solution.
Decision-making is the ability to quickly and accurately determine the best course of action for a project. Because project engineers must develop plans and lead projects, it's important that they can make responsible decisions. They must be good at determining the feasibility of plans, especially regarding safety, financial costs and quality concerns.
Project engineers must be excellent at communicating with other professionals, such as financial analysts, senior management, project developers, team members and subcontractors. They must be good at providing simple instructions and writing reports that people without a background in engineering can understand, as well as presenting findings, plans and recommendations clearly.
Project engineers understand the principles of trigonometry, calculus and other advanced topics in math for design, analysis and troubleshooting in their work. The fundamental aspects of both design and engineering are important for project engineers to understand and apply when working on projects. To be successful, they are completely comfortable understanding and completing calculations and can provide guidance to those who don't understand the concepts.
Leadership is the ability to provide effective guidance and support for colleagues and members of your team. Communication, confidence, accountability, empathy and an ability to understand the vision for a project. Because project engineers are ultimately responsible for the design and implementation of the project, they need to be able to supervise all people involved to implement the plan successfully.
Read more: 10 Common Leadership Styles
Project engineer work environment
Project engineers occasionally work in an office environment during regular business hours, though they spend most of their time at construction sites. They travel to consult with contractors, stakeholders and clients. Project engineers also may be expected to work overtime, especially as deadlines approach.
Project engineers may sit for extended periods in front of a computer while in the office or reviewing construction plans. On construction sites, they may need to be physically capable of standing for long periods. Project engineers may work in a variety of companies and institutions, including:
A project engineer in a government agency may provide guidance and leadership for the completion of government projects. This can include the installation of new traffic systems, updates to government buildings and the completion of construction projects. They may work with city planners to provide structure to government projects and improve the overall efficiency and quality of life within a city.
An architectural project engineer monitors and designs each part of the architectural process for creating new structures. They begin in the design and concept stage, providing input and refining designs and ideas for each project. For the material and construction stages, the project engineer contributes by selecting the most effective materials for each project. They ensure each architectural project follows a timeline, delivering the finished product to the client or company before the deadline.
Manufacturing project engineers focus on the production of items or products. They usually work for companies that produce complex or high-quality services and items for their consumers. A manufacturing project manager consistently refines the design and production for items, determining which supplies they need and how to make processes more efficient. They ensure production processes adhere to regulations and that all items are safe and effective.
Project engineers who work with construction companies manage and oversee the development of construction projects. This means they ensure safety protocols integrate into each stage of construction. They determine the most efficient way to conduct inspections and collaborate with other professionals to ensure buildings follow code and include functional components.
Related: The 8 Main Types of Engineering Industries (With Roles)
Average project engineer salary
How much you can earn as a project engineer can depend on your level of experience and performance. The average annual salary for a project engineer is $116,558 per year. Other factors, including your speciality, education, company and location can also affect your salary. For example, the city in which project engineers earn the most is Pilbara, Western Australia; where you may earn $215,013 per year.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
Explore more articles
- 3 Habits That Could Increase Your Chances of Getting the Job
- What Is a Service Technician? (With Skills and Salary)
- What Does a PACU Nurse Do? Job Duties, Tips and Skills
- How to Become a Correctional Officer
- How to Become a Veterinarian
- A Helpful Guide to Finding Work in China for Australians
- 13 Jobs in Microbiology to Pursue (With Salary and Duties)
- What Does a Coordinator Do? (And How Much Do They Earn?)
- What Does an Operations Officer Do? (Plus Qualifications)
- The Difference Between a Nutritionist and a Dietitian: A Basic Guide
- What Does a Groundskeeper Do? (Including Job Description)
- What Does a Plant Mechanic Do? (Typical Skills and Path)