Site engineers oversee large building projects, planning and organising the various workers involved. They’ll make key decisions about how a construction site is managed, organised and maintained.
What is a site engineer?
A site engineer turns designs and construction plans into a practical, working project. Taking information from various workers, from designers to architects and construction managers, they’ll ensure a project is safely and efficiently completed.
You could work on small domestic projects, like building a house, right through to large scale projects like building a new hospital wing.
Being a site engineer is a senior position. You’ll usually need to have taken setting out engineer courses (like a degree) to qualify for site engineer jobs.
The responsibilities of setting out engineer jobs will depend on what type of project you’re working on. There are some similar duties across most roles, though:
- Overseeing construction plans and assessing their practicality on site.
- Assessing building designs and ensuring they are practical and fit for purpose.
- Ensuring health and safety is maintained on site, especially around large buildings and using large construction equipment.
- Budgeting for construction sites, including hiring workers, materials and equipment.
- Planning building work hours to consider workers work/life balance, the overall planned completion dates, and the needs of local community, such as avoiding peak commuting hours if construction involves blocking off roads or communal paths.
- Surveying the planned site to ensure that the natural groundwork is fit for purpose and making any adjustments or safety precautions if required.
- Managing the site, including potentially managing workers, overseeing working shifts and patterns,and deciding on number of staff required for different tasks.
- Managing contracts where needed, such as between different contractors, the client and potentially any local authorities.
- Creating site engineer reports and site engineers plans for various stakeholders and other contractors.
- Being a key point of contact for the client, passing on important information and taking on client feedback, adapting site practices where required.
A site engineer salary varies considerably. This depends on expertise levels and expertise, as well as the budget of the projects an engineer works on. While most site engineers will be employed, your overall wage will also depend on whether you’re a freelance contractor or working as part of a company.
The average salary for a site engineer is around £35,000. However salaries can range from anywhere between £25,000 to £70,000 and beyond. You may achieve higher salaries if you are qualified as a chartered civil engineer (CEng) - this is especially true if you’re an independent contractor.
Being a site engineer is a senior position. You’ll usually need to have taken setting out engineer courses (like a degree) to qualify for site engineer jobs. You’ll usually need 2-3 A Levels and 4-5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C) to apply.
Degrees that will train you well for applying for site engineer jobs include:
- Architecture degrees
- Civil Engineering degrees
- Construction degrees
- Engineering degrees
- Structural Engineering
It’s worth checking that your degree is recognised by a relevant professional body. This is particularly the case if you hope to eventually achieve chartered engineers status (CEng), where having an accredited degree is useful for your application.
As with many engineering construction jobs, your initial training and development will come as part of your course studies.
Examples of accrediting institutions include:
You could also study site engineering at Level 4 and 5 at college level. Subjects include Structural Engineering and Civil Engineering. You’ll usually need 2-3 A Levels and 4-5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C) to apply for these courses.
Some site engineers choose to take further study at postgraduate level to qualify further, especially if they’re looking to gain chartered engineer status.
- Environmental Engineering degrees
- Low Energy Building Engineering degrees
- Mechanical Engineering degrees
If you particularly enjoy the academic aspect of your engineering, you could even take on PhD level study. This would qualify you to teach at university level.
Training and development
As with many engineering construction jobs, your initial training and development will come as part of your course studies. It’s worth shadowing a more senior engineer wherever possible to observe the key technical skills you’re likely to need in a role.
It is vital that you have experience of the site engineering profession before you take on your own projects.
Once you have qualified, you can take on further training via ICE or IStructE. Examples include webinars, professional training courses and conferences. If you choose to become a chartered engineer, you’ll need to take on relevant continuing professional development (CPD) to retain your status. Training via professional bodies can offer this, as well as shadowing senior colleagues.
The skills you’ll need for a site engineer job combine advanced knowledge and technical skills. Examples include:
- An awareness of the roles and responsibilities of each individual within a site team, from construction to architecture and design.
- An attention to detail, being able to recognise the smallest of potential issues with site plans and rectify these before they happen.
- Project management skills, as you’ll be overseeing large scale projects with various contractors.
- A good understanding of relevant legislation and health and safety procedures.
- Excellent written communication skills - you’ll need to create detailed reports and plans and be able to share these with colleagues.
- Excellent verbal communication skills - you’ll need to pass on key information about safety and project management to various individuals across a site, clearly and consistently.
- Managerial skills - you’ll be managing various contactors, so you’ll need to do so respectfully and consistently.
- Team working skills - your job is key to keeping various individuals across a site on the same page, so it’s vital that you’re a good team player.
It is vital that you have experience of the site engineering profession before you take on your own projects. You should receive plenty of placements and shadowing opportunities as part of your course, especially if it’s accredited by one of the engineering or construction industry governing bodies. Make sure you shadow various workers on these projects, not just the site engineers themselves, as it will pay dividends to have understanding of the various different roles involved in site management.
It’s worth asking your course tutors if they have contacts in any other areas of engineer specialism. This is especially relevant if you’re interested in working within a particular area of the industry. For example, if you’re particularly keen on working within large scale developments, you could ask your tutors if they’re in contact with any relevant bodies that work on these.
A site engineer turns designs and construction plans into a practical, working project.
If you’re applying directly for roles, you can also contact engineering and construction firms directly to see if they’ll allow shadowing from a trainee site engineer. This would also be a great way to build up experience before applying to qualifying courses.
As you progress through your role as a junior site engineer, you could take on more senior positions. Responsibilities could include overseeing a wider team of site engineers or managing several large clients.
You could also choose to go self employed, using your expertise and knowledge to work independently. You could eventually apply for Chartered Engineer status (CEng) which would be particularly useful in adding authority to your business. Many self employed engineers go on to set up their own firm, allowing potential for higher earnings and exciting clients.
- Site Engineer salary in United Kingdom — Indeed.co.uk Retrieved 30 August 2022.