Civil Engineers At Construction Site
Civil Engineers At Construction Site

Civil Engineers in Construction – Roles and How to Become One


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The role of civil engineers in construction can’t be understated. They play a big part in the success of a project most especially in construction crew management, worker and equipment safety, overall construction operation, as well as during the bidding and planning stages. Although their life at the site is totally hectic as their tasks are grueling, the salary and pride they get from their job can make all the efforts worth it. 

Civil engineers in the construction industry take on a broad range of different projects. They are key persons in constructing highways, buildings, bridges, dams, tunnels, infrastructures, and other smaller facilities. So the roles they take in construction projects are greatly variable.

But the two main responsibilities of civil engineers in construction range from consulting engineering to contracting engineering. Consulting engineers typically work on the design of the construction project. On the other hand, contracting engineers are site engineers who manage the main construction process and carry out a variety of tasks from construction crew management to safety and realizing the construction plan.

Within these general responsibilities, though, are more specific roles that require other specializations. Each specialization is required to complete the project successfully. And we’re listing all those roles here today.

As an overview, civil engineers carry out the most essential task in the planning phase which is to analyze the construction site as well as the surrounding area. The responsibility includes search and investigation of the site and verifying the feasibility for construction. In short, the success of the building greatly relies on his ability to find the right location.

After searching for the right construction site, he now works on the design plan of the project and outlines key variables as well as the elements that need to be changed prior to the construction. The third role that a civil engineer has to take on is the development of the detailed design layout while taking into account the requirements set by the client. This is also where he takes note of all the potential risks that the project design conveys.

Now, the project starts, and the civil engineer also starts to carry out a more arduous job by taking over the construction crew management and on-site progress monitoring. So apart from construction project management software, civil engineers are another way for project managers to ensure that the paid time at the site is all worth it and that the project is going as planned.

It is also the responsibility of the civil engineer to establish clear and constant communication with all other stakeholders like architects and subcontractors. Detecting issues at the site is another and he should be able to communicate it quickly to the project manager to have them resolved at once and avoid change order.

He is also the trusted person of the project manager in seeing to it that the project stays within budget and schedule. He assures that the construction is organized and that all materials needed re procured.

With all these responsibilities, it is obvious why a civil engineer is one of the most important personnel in construction projects. 

Roles of a Civil Site Engineer

As we already mentioned, civil engineers carry out numerous responsibilities in different construction projects. That said, he should have all the basic knowledge of construction procedures on-site as well as the details on how projects are planned.

Overall, here are the other roles that civil engineers can take over on construction:

  1. Quality Engineer

Being the overall person-in-charge at the site, it is the responsibility of the civil engineer to ensure quality work. He also checks the status of materials to be used and sees to it that they comply with the design specifications.

  1. Safety Officer

Civil engineers are also the qualified personnel to look after the safety of the equipment, materials, and crew members. He plans the safety procedures and sends out safety instructions to the workers as well as carry out training for them. He also has the power to stop the construction immediately once he sees that the safety regulations are not followed.

  1. Planning Engineer

The planning engineer plans and deals with materials, workers, and procedures at the site. He is the one that organizes the operation and sees to it that all assets are used properly.

  1. Billing Engineer

The billing engineer is the one that writes the estimate and prepares the bills for the client s well as the subcontractor and suppliers.

Responsibilities of Construction Civil Engineer

The job of a civil engineer in construction isn’t limited to the tasks we mentioned above. Apart from these duties, it is also the construction civil engineer’s job to:

  1. Construction Site Management

Helping the construction manager, the civil engineer assists him in managing the site. The site engineer spends most of his day at the site and works closely with the foremen and crew members. He updates the site workers with the day’s design and activities, implements them, and reports back to the project manager at the end of the day.

  1. Traveling

Some construction projects are so vast that it uses a large piece of land so the project is broken down to several sites. Also sometimes, a firm takes several projects at the same time so a civil engineer needs to hop from one site to another. He is supposed to visit all the sites to cater to any special needs. Sometimes, he also needs to travel to procure materials or to correct specifications if discrepancies exist.

  1. Technical Activities

The civil engineer takes care of the interpretation of the project drawings. This is why he is needed at the site so he can make the whole project team understand the plan. He checks the actual work and compares them with the plan to see whether the plan, specs, and requirements are followed.

The civil engineer must be capable of resolving technical problems in the most efficient way possible as well as other difficulties met at the site.

  1. Preparation of Reports and Schedules

At the end of the day, it is the duty of the civil engineer to write reports regarding the jobs carried out, materials procurement schedule, crew performance, and accomplishments. Meanwhile, any report or request for future work should be prepared two weeks ahead. These days, these tasks are easier for the civil engineers as they have the construction project management software they can use as work diaries.

  1. Communication

As site engineers are leaders of on-site construction, they are responsible for the work harmony and communication is one of the most important factors in ensuring an organized worksite. Since the civil engineers manage the operation at the site, they are the ones who usually receive instructions first including the plan, schedule, adjustment in budget, or change order. So it is their responsibility to disseminate the information as accurately and quickly as possible. Using a construction management software such as Pro Crew Schedule can help them fulfill this task better. And as we always say, communication is a vital element in construction as it ensures the success of the project by making all members updated with accurate data. Likewise, it is the duty of the civil engineer to update the contractors with everything that’s happening at the site. 

Guide to Becoming a Construction Engineer

Becoming a civil engineer is very rewarding but to become one, you should complete a bachelor’s degree. Civil engineers are assigned to different locations and take on a variety of roles in the industry from office works to the field roles. Most of them work full time even when they become contractors.

The future of civil engineers in construction is very bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry will need an increase of 11% from 2022-2026. So if you are serious about becoming one, today is the perfect time to start your career as a civil engineer.

Typically, after graduating from a bachelor’s degree, one needs to take the licensure exam but it may vary by state. Civil engineers are required to take the exam before they can offer their services to the public. Then before becoming a leader at the site, one may need to go through apprenticeship to learn the responsibilities under actual circumstances.

The pay for civil engineers is very handsome. For starters, the median annual wage for civil engineers is around $87,000 and it increases yearly and with experience.

All construction works require the participation of civil engineers. In other words, there’s plenty of places to look for work for the candidates. They can take on projects for new construction, rebuild, demolition, repair, and upgrade of roads, buildings, dams, bridges, airports and other types of structures.

Final Words

The role of civil engineers in the construction site can’t be underestimated and understated. They carry out roles that are necessary for the success of a construction project like inspection, planning, leadership, construction crew management, progress monitoring, reporting, communication, and turn over. In fact, even after construction, they are still needed by building owners for maintenance and repair. Being a civil engineer working for the industry may mean risks and stresses, but at the end of every project is the pride of successfully finishing a structure that will stand for decades.

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