What Is Construction Engineering Management?

Engineer working with laptop computer
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Construction Engineering Management (or CEM) involves the application of technical and scientific knowledge accrued through both undergraduate and graduate-level studies to the processes involved with infrastructure construction projects. CEMs have an educational background and, ideally, experience in construction management techniques as well as their wider application to the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (aka, AEC) industry. 

What Does a Construction Engineering Manager Do?

Construction engineering managers are key players in the successful completion of construction projects. Over the course of his or her career, a construction engineering manager is likely to work on and oversee a broad range of projects. These include the design of drainage and sewage systems, building construction, or even larger infrastructure projects like developing highways or railroads. Others choose to focus on one particular type of construction and build a career around it. Some common specialties include:

  • Commercial business or housing construction
  • Electrical system design
  • HVAC/Mechanical
  • Highway/Heavy (bridge building, airport design, water waste management systems, etc.)

Technical and Leadership Background

Construction engineering managers are often called upon to use computers and construction management software to produce and analyze designs for their projects. They are responsible for assembling teams of qualified engineers who can see the smooth completion of a given project.

Construction engineering managers also need to possess the right knowledge for controlling estimation and planning of associated costs for a project

Work Responsibilities

Construction engineering managers are often less hands-on when it comes to the actual labor. Oftentimes, they work out of a central office, making frequent visits to job sites and sometimes doing some on-location work with labor. They also tour sites regularly to inspect the work being done and to ensure that proper standards in the construction project are being maintained. The typical workweek for a construction engineering manager is 40 hours, but many will work longer hours in an effort to meet deadlines or solve problems that arise within a project.


A construction engineering manager also has a host of other responsibilities. He or she is often called upon to survey the job site prior to the beginning of a project. He or she also has to take into consideration any environmental issues or local rules, laws, or codes that need to be addressed before work can begin. Before work commences, he or she will typically prepare a report on the findings and collaborate with other people involved with the project. Those parties often include governmental agencies, environmental associations, contractors, and subcontractors.

Construction engineering managers must possess a thorough understanding of laws, regulations, and building codes, especially those that would have a direct impact on the project at hand. They must also be able to estimate the total cost of a given project with consideration to:

  • Site inspections
  • Drainage, sewage, and elevation level tests
  • Equipment and materials
  • Labor

There are also numerous other smaller factors that vary from one project to the next. 

Construction engineering managers are also responsible for managing the workings of various other entities involved in the project. They are responsible for providing expert supervision from beginning to end, while also keeping the project running on or ahead of schedule and within budget. Working with that many people also requires exceptionally strong leadership and interpersonal skills. They are also required to pay unwavering attention to detail. Like any other kind of engineer, construction engineering managers need to possess strong problem-solving, analytical, and mathematical skills.


Construction Engineering Management Jobs

Like any current area of construction, the job of construction engineering manager is in-demand, and demand is on the rise. Over the next 8 to 10 years, the construction industry, in general, is expected to see upwards of 20 percent growth, according to Bureau of Labor statistics. That alone will expand the need for qualified managers at every level of the construction process, making it a good choice when trying to decide on a career in construction.