4 Steps on How to Become a Project Engineer in an EPC Company

how to become a project engineer in an epc company

In my day to day activities, I come across a lot of people who are keen to get an opportunity to work in the upcoming oil and gas projects. It is common to get an inquiry about an EPC contract and specifically the company that has won the contract to execute the project. One of the common questions I get is with regard to how to become a project engineer in an EPC company.

This is usually an interesting question.

I have taken time to research on the topic and find out how you can become a project engineer in an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company.

As the name suggests, this is a company that is executing three main responsibilities associated with a particular project.

How to Become a Project Engineer in an EPC company

4 Steps to Become a Project Engineer in an EPC Company

  1. Education
  2. Apply for entry-level jobs.
  3. Gain experience.
  4. Obtain professional engineering certification.

Becoming a Qualified Project Engineer for an EPC Company

Here are the most common steps to follow in becoming a qualified project engineer for an EPC company:

  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree

You can earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Engineering Management or Construction Management.

Courses in any of these programs will help you gain management and engineering knowledge needed for this role.

Many engineering firms or construction management companies offer internships that allow you to gain experience as you work toward your bachelor’s degree. Internships also enable students to develop valuable connections with project engineering professionals who may be able to help them obtain a job after graduation.

  1. Apply for entry-level jobs

Since project engineers can work in a variety of fields, carefully consider which industry you would like to pursue a career in.

After determining which field you would like to work in, begin applying for entry-level jobs so you can gain relevant experience.

Make sure to customize your application materials for each job you apply to so you can distinguish yourself from other candidates.

  1. Gain experience

Project engineers typically have at least three to four years of experience in an engineering role. Gaining work experience in a specialty field such as civil, mechanical, electronic, aerospace or electrical engineering helps you build your credibility in project engineering.

  1. Obtain a Professional Engineering license

Project engineers with professional engineering (PE) licenses usually enjoy higher earnings and advancement potential compared to non-credentialed project engineers.

To become a licensed professional engineer, you must pass the PE examination and renew your license based on your country’s requirements.

Is a Project Engineer even an Engineer in the first place?

A project engineer is actually an engineer who is mandated or is the engineer responsible for the overall management of a specific project.

Every major project will have a project manager and this is a position that mostly is taken by a project engineer.

Project engineers occasionally work in an office environment during regular business hours, though they spend most of their time at the construction sites.

Because they travel at times to consult with contractors and clients, they sometimes work overtime, especially when commuting and as the deadline approaches.

Project engineers typically act as the point of contact for clients regarding technical aspects of the job.

While in the office, project engineers may sit for extended periods in front of a computer or reviewing construction plans. On construction sites, they will stand or move around while inspecting the progress of the project.

What is Project Engineering at an EPC Company?

Project engineering refers to the management of engineering and technical projects.

This is usually from management of teams and staff to budget and schedule to deliver a successful project outcome.

A “project” is made up of an interconnected range of activities or tasks performed by designers, drafters, engineers from one or more engineering disciplines or departments.

On a day to day basis, project engineering consists of tasks relating to:

  1. Performing calculations
  2. Drawing up specifications
  3. Reviewing proposals
  4. Drawing up equipment bids
  5. Creating drawings – electrical, piping and other drawings used in design and construction.

While smaller projects are usually run under a single project engineer, larger projects may require a project manager or management team.

Some facilities work with in house staff to handle small projects, while major companies usually have a dedicated department that does internal project engineering.

Larger projects are typically outsourced to EPC companies or organizations.

What does a Project Engineer do at an EPC Organization

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:

  • Preparing, scheduling, coordinating and monitoring all assigned projects
  • Communicating effectively during daily interactions with clients to interpret their requirements and needs
  • Maintaining quality control in every area, including team dynamics, personnel performance, planning, scheduling and budget
  • Submitting reports on project status
  • Monitoring compliance in all aspects of the project
  • Communicating effectively with the project manager and other team members to provide assistance and technical support
  • Reviewing engineering deliverables and initiating appropriate corrective actions throughout the project lifecycle

What is the Average Salary of a Project Engineer?

If you are seeking to get a job or a role as a project engineer in an EPC company, I am sure you have thought about the salary you would earn.

It is important to remember that project engineers get paid depending on several factors. These factors include;

  • Your level of education.
  • Experience and exposure.
  • Level of responsibility involved.
  • Size of the company.
  • The location or region where your assignment is at.

My research on how much money a project engineer makes indicates that the common salary in the United States is about $78,813 per year.

Some salaries for project engineers can range from $29,000 to $150,000 per year.

Table 1: Project Engineer Salary Estimates

Percentile Salary Location
25th Percentile Project Engineer I Salary $68,610 US
50th Percentile Project Engineer I Salary $74,352 US
75th Percentile Project Engineer I Salary $84,409 US
90th Percentile Project Engineer I Salary $93,566 US

Conclusion

In conclusion, I do hope that the above points are helping you to learn how to become a project engineer in an EPC company.

In many ways, a project engineer is like a conductor of an orchestra. A conductor does not need to know how to play every instrument. Instead, a good project engineer needs the ability to lead people who have different skills and roles within the project.

Like a conductor, a project manager needs to be able to communicate effectively and keep the project moving on time.

Finally, just a conductor helps cue his musicians and leads rehearsals, a project engineer in an EPC company looks ahead to see what might cause a disruption and provides his team with guidance to navigate challenging circumstances.

As you can see, project engineers play an important role in any large engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifications do you need to be a project engineer?

For you to become a project engineer, there are some skills you need. These skills can either be technical or non-technical.

The qualifications you need to be a project engineer include;

  1. Great IT skills
  2. Being proactive.
  3. Organisational skills.
  4. Ability to create ideas and explain plans.
  5. Decision making skills.
  6. Communication skills.
  7. Basic business skills like understanding budgets and deadlines.

You should think clearly about what you need to have to qualify as a project engineer.

How many years does it take to become a project engineer?

Project engineers typically have at least three to four years of experience in an engineering role.

Gaining work experience in a specialty field such as civil, mechanical, electronic, aerospace or electrical engineering helps you to build your credibility in project engineering.

Can you be a project engineer without an engineering degree?

The easier answer to this question is a YES.

You can become a project engineer without an engineering degree.

According to Interesting Engineering, electrical engineering is the easiest field to enter without a formal degree, as you can gain proficiency in the field through self-study, experimentation and hard work.

Do Project engineers travel a lot?

Many civil engineers are able to work without traveling extensively.

Working on the construction side of civil engineering will often require more travel, since work occurs on the project site.

The project planning and development side is typically done in an office setting, and often requires less travel.