what is a project engineer?

This job lets you combine multiple skills into a single, in-demand career. Project engineers are an essential part of the process from idea creation to implementation. You start with a basic goal like "produce a new machine component" and then determine the steps that make this possible. In your role as a project engineer, you determine the scope of the project and figure out which specific goals you have to fulfill to finish the project. You then assemble a team, gather materials and equipment, and instruct your coworkers.

Project engineers often provide technical expertise like designing systems. They also offer managerial oversight. You coordinate your entire team, file any necessary paperwork with other departments, and provide progress reports to your superiors. This career is ideal if you enjoy working independently and solving problems. A project engineer typically works in an engineering industry such as manufacturing or product design. However, some project engineers are also involved in fields like architecture or construction. You have the option of specializing in all sorts of exciting industries like aerospace manufacturing or wind energy.

Would working as a project engineer suit your analytical and organizational skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a project engineer role.

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average project engineer salary

Taking on larger projects often leads to a higher salary. A project engineer working to design basic items at a small company will make less. Meanwhile, a project engineer handling a years-long project for an international business tends to make more. Project engineers often get these higher-paying jobs after years of experience and a history of past successes. 

Would you like to know what a project engineer earns? Where the highest salaries are paid for a project engineer? Then check out this project engineer salary page and find out all about the salary of a project engineer in the USA.

woman working in an office
woman working in an office

types of project engineer

Project engineers are divided into types based on what they do. Here are some of the most common types of project engineers.

  • civil project engineers: You work in fields related to human living and city design. Your job might include civil engineer tasks like working on stoplights or designing a new shopping mall.
  • manufacturing project engineers: You work in industrial settings and help companies design both products and the equipment used to build products.
  • scientific project engineer: You assist with research in a scientific setting. Your job might include things like testing a new prescription drug or building equipment for a study.
  • architectural project engineer: You help to build new buildings. Some project engineers will oversee building entire homes while others will oversee individual tasks like site selection.

working as a project engineer

When you work as a project engineer, the workplace is never dull. You get to manage a variety of tasks and work in all sorts of intriguing locations.


project engineer skills and education

The main requirement for any project engineer job is a college degree. Employers almost always require their project engineers to have either an associate's or bachelor's degree. In rare cases, you may be able to substitute years of experience in your field for a degree. However, these jobs are less and less common. To be as competitive as possible in your field, you need a bachelor's degree or a master's degree. Some jobs are fine with you having a degree in any field, but most will have degree specifications.

You usually need a degree that is relevant to the industry you want to work in. For example, a project engineer at a software company might need a degree in computer science. Popular degrees for project engineers include engineering, architecture, construction management, civil engineering, or mechanical engineering. Project managers also need experience with handling projects in their desired industry. Most jobs require around five to 10 years of industry experience. You may be able to skip these requirements if you have a certification in project engineering. To get certifications, you usually have to take additional classes that explain all the concepts behind project engineering.

skills and competencies

This job is a great fit for multifaceted individuals with a broad blend of skills. Depending on the job you take, you'll need one or more of these types of skills.

  • communication skills: You must be able to explain concepts clearly and easily, and you need to be comfortable motivating others to finish work.
  • technical skills: The exact skills you need vary based on your industry. You might need the ability to work with certain software or understand how to use specific types of specialized equipment.
  • time management skills: Your time management skills are an essential part of being successful. You have to break projects into small, manageable blocks of time and ensure that things are finished by their deadlines.
  • financial skills: As a project manager, you're in charge of the budget. You need to be able to keep track of expenses and avoid overspending.
  • organizational skills: Expect to spend a huge part of your day organizing things. You have to keep track of people, paperwork, schedules, and more.
  • problem-solving skills: You need to be comfortable working under pressure. Good project engineers can tackle big problems and find ways to solve a variety of issues.
smiling man in the office
smiling man in the office

FAQs about working as a project engineer

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about project engineers.

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