Army Enlisted Jobs: Combat Engineer (12-B)

Army Enlisted Job Descriptions and Qualification Factors

Combat Engineer
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If you are considering becoming a Combat Engineer, you will become a fighter as well as a builder of defenses for your fellow soldiers as well as the destroyer of enemy defensive positions and obstacles along the battlefield.

Soldiers who volunteer to become Combat Engineers receive their engineering training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri with the 35th Engineering Battalion

What Do Combat Engineers Do?

If it's a combat engineer position that interests you, the U.S. Army says this job is primarily supervisory in nature. Combat engineers' mission is to supervise or assist team members when tackling rough terrain in combat situations. The combat engineer must exhibit expertise in mobility, counter-mobility, survival, and general engineering. You will learn to build defenses to protect the troops or destroy obstacles in the way of combat troops movement. When a water crossing is required, bridges can be built or quickly assembled for both troop and vehicle passage. Combat Engineer or Sappers may also be in charge of laying or clearing minefields, as well as building road and airfield construction, and repair.

Can You Become an Army Sapper? (video)

A Combat Engineer (Sapper tabbed) are front-line infantry support troops that "Clear the Way." They are trained as infantrymen, and some combat engineering units have a secondary role as infantry as well. Such tasks typically include constructing and breaching trenches, tank traps and other fortifications, bunker construction, bridge and road construction or destruction, laying or clearing land mines, and other physical work on the battlefield. 

A Soldier must be a Graduate of the Sapper Leader Course, a 28-day course designed to train leaders in small unit tactics, leadership skills, and skills required to perform as part of a combined arms team, to become a Sapper and wear the Sapper Tab.

Some of the skills the U.S. Army requires you to learn at your basic combat engineering training include basic demolitions, basic explosive hazards, constructing wire obstacles, fixed bridge building, basic urban operations and operation of heavy equipment.

These skills will help groom you for a civilian career in construction, building inspection or building engineering once your tour of duty is complete.

Combat Engineer Job Duties

According to the U.S. Army, duties performed by 12-B combat engineers include:

  • Construct fighting positions, fixed/floating bridges, obstacles, and defensive positions.
  • Place and detonate explosives.
  • Conduct operations that include route clearance of obstacles and rivers.
  • Prepare and install firing systems for demolition and explosives.
  • Detect mines visually or with mine detectors.

Training Information

Job training for combat engineers includes:

  • Fourteen weeks of One Station Unit Training (OSUT)
  • Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training.
  • Part of this training time is spent in the classroom with the remainder in the field with on-the-job instructions.

Tests Needed

To become a combat engineer, enlisted members must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. This series of tests assists you in understanding your strengths and identifying which Army jobs are the best fit for you.

Although not a requirement, it's helpful if you already know how to use a variety of hand and power tools, have performed strenuous physical activities over long periods of time, exhibit an interest in engineering and enjoy working outdoors.

Tuition Reimbursement

In the U.S. Army, students can earn full-tuition, as well as merit-based scholarships, allowances for books and fees, and an annual stipend for living expenses.


Included in total compensation is housing, food, special pay, medical and vacation time.

Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program

After working for the Army as a 12-B combat engineer, you may be able to obtain civilian employment, after the Army, by enrolling in the Army PaYS program. Recruitment through this program guarantees a job interview with military-friendly employers seeking trained veterans to join their companies. Learn more about the Army PaYS Program.