What does a Senior Project Engineer do?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2019
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A senior project engineer holds a prestigious position of great responsibility. The primary role of a senior project engineer is to oversee and manage large, complex projects. There are several types of project engineers, in almost every discipline of engineering.

In order to become a senior project engineer, a university degree in an engineering discipline is required. In addition to this formal training, candidates are typically required to obtain professional certification as an engineer. Many project engineers take additional training to become a project management professional (PMP). This type of training provides valuable skills in project management.

A senior project engineer is responsible for providing guidance, managing the project, and coordinating the engineering teams. Engineering projects that require the services of a senior project engineer can include infrastructure projects, development of new products, or implementation of a technological solution. These types of projects involve a lot of people with a wide range of skills. The senior project engineer is the person with the authorization to make decisions on site, as required.


Providing guidance to the staff can range from holding regular project management meetings with the other project engineers, reviewing the status of the project with each work team, or following up with senior management on key decisions. Keeping all parties informed of the progress of the project, issues that need to be resolved, and the next stage is essential in any project. Communication is critical on large projects to ensure there are minimal surprises.

Project management often includes coordination of various project teams, development of a project plan, and defining the project time line. Reviewing change requests, planning for the next stage of the project, and overseeing the work of others is an essential part of this role.

Coordinating various engineering teams, checking work quality, and resolving issues forms a large part of being a senior project engineer. Engineering training is very intense and creates staff members who are able to work in a high-pressure environment. It also creates people who work best when managed by an experienced engineer.

Promotional opportunities for a senior project engineer include project management, senior administrative staff, or other, highly ranked positions. All these positions are highly compensated, but require long hours and often include significant travel. Most large projects are located outside the city center and are often quite challenging. A large infrastructure or construction project can take several years to complete, requiring staff to relocate for the duration of the project.


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Post 3

We actually had a discussion in one of my engineering management courses today that I thought of when I read this article. The class is Earth Systems Engineering and Management, and we were discussing the topic of jobs and job security in a world where jobs are broken into segmentable tasks and being crowdsourced to less qualified people. The question was how do you prepare for a world where this becomes the norm--or where technology replaces the job of that person whether through software or robotics?

The professor stressed a couple points--job security will depend on your ability to perform a task that a machine or software cannot reproduce or a segmented crowd of lesser-qualified people cannot communicate

. Believe it or not, the prospects for many engineers are slim if they cannot adapt to the changing job market. Flexibility and the ability to comprehend interdisciplinary problems is irreplaceable.

Our professor believes that advancement in civil, project, or other engineering jobs are won by the ability of the candidate to communicate. A skilled communicator will be able to better understand the needs of all the stakeholders in a project. A good project engineer seems like he or she would need to possess these qualities.

Post 2

@JessicaLynn - 100K a year is definitely a respectable salary for any job.

I bet this job might be kind of difficult for someone with a family though. Like the article said, you might have to be in a few years after your project is completed. I know I prefer to have a little bit more stability in my life. But I guess some people don't mind moving every few years-look how many people are in the army!

Post 1

It sounds like there's a lot of upward mobility in the field of engineering. It must be nice for entry level engineers to know that there are senior positions like this one that they can shoot for.

This job sounds really complicated though! Definitely a lot of responsibility. You would definitely have to know pretty much everything about every aspect of the project you're overseeing.

Still, it sounds like it would be worth it. I did a quick Internet search and I found that the usual salary for this position is around 100K per year. Not too shabby!

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