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How do I Prepare for a Project Engineer Career?

Article Details
  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 June 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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A project engineer career can cover a wide range of disciplines in engineering, ranging from civil to electrical engineering. The average length of a professional engineer’s career is over 40 years and during this time, engineers can have many roles, including project engineer. As project engineer, he or she is responsible for oversight and management of the entire engineering project, including budget, time lines, staffing, and problem solving. There are four recommended steps to prepare for a project engineer career: gain work experience as an engineer, complete project management certification, be an understudy to a project engineer, and complete a career counseling evaluation.

The best way to prepare for a project engineer career is to take a two-pronged approach: gain experience at work and complete a training program at home. All project engineers must be fully licensed, professional engineers in their field of specialty. Gaining experience in a managerial role as an engineer requires time and consistent effort. Much like the other professions such as law or medicine, graduates are still considered to be trainees until at they have achieved at least five to seven years of experience in the industry. The responsibilities and risks at this level are quite high, so it is important to take your time and learn all you can during these years.

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Project management courses are available from a wide range of community colleges and universities. Some engineering faculties offer dedicated courses on project management, specifically focused on issues and concerns that are unique to project engineers. While these courses provide a great opportunity to network, the core project management functions and programs are consistent across all industries. The Project Management Professional® (PMP®) certification is the international standard and is offered by the Project Management Institution®.

The next stage in your career plan is to see how an experienced project engineer actually works. Talk with your supervisor or manager about your career plans and ask for an opportunity to work as an understudy or assistant to a well respected project manager. Be prepared for long hours, little appreciation, and a large amount of administrative work. However, the opportunity to observe up close, see how problems are resolved, and see techniques in action is well worth the additional workload.

The final stage of your preparation plan is to meet with a career counselor. Ask for a Myers-Briggs Personality Test®. This standard test provides insight into personality, attitude, biases, strengths and weaknesses of character. The career counselor can interpret the results and provide advice on methods to improve areas of weakness. A project engineer career is high-pressure and has a great deal of responsibility. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you be better leader, when the time comes.

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