What Is Construction Engineering Management?

Engineer working with laptop computer
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Construction engineering management (CEM) involves the application of technical and scientific knowledge to infrastructure construction projects. Construction engineering management blends engineering (which focuses on design) with construction management, which is concerned with overseeing the actual construction.

Keep reading to learn more about construction engineering management and the managers that carry out these duties.

What Is Construction Engineering Management?

Construction engineering management refers to the use of critical thinking in technical and scientific fields to improve a construction project. This often involves designing and executing new solutions and faster processes that can help overcome worksite obstacles and improve efficiency. Construction engineering management can help improve safety, productivity, natural disaster resilience—really any aspect of the construction industry could be addressed by construction engineering management.

  • Acronym: CEM

How Does Construction Engineering Management Work?

Construction engineering managers are key players that bridge elements of design and management to help push construction projects over the finish line to their successful completion. Over the course of their career, a construction engineering manager is likely to work on and oversee a broad range of projects. This may 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 areas of focus for CEM include:

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

Work Responsibilities

Before construction even begins, a construction engineering manager may be called upon to survey the job site, address environmental issues, study local laws and codes, and take care of any other details that need to be settled before construction begins. An engineering manager typically prepares a report on their findings and collaborates with others involved with the project, including governmental agencies, environmental associations, contractors, and subcontractors.

In addition to on-site work, 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 ensure the 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.

Once work has begun, construction engineering managers often work out of a central office, but they may make frequent visits to job sites, and they sometimes engage in 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 work longer hours to meet deadlines or solve problems that arise within a project.

Construction Engineering Management Jobs

As with other areas of construction, the job of a construction engineering manager is in demand and experiencing growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in construction management are expected to grow by 8% between 2019 and 2029—compared to a 4% growth average across the job market as a whole. This steady employment growth could help encourage those trying to decide whether or not to pursue a career in construction.

Requirements for Construction Engineering Management

Construction engineering managers must possess a thorough understanding of laws, regulations, and building codes, especially those that 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

Construction engineering managers may have an educational background at both undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as experience in construction management techniques. Their skills may be applied widely to the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.

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. The job requires strong leadership and interpersonal skills and 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 involves combining elements of design engineering, project management, and other technical and scientific aspects of construction.
  • Construction engineering management is applied throughout a project's lifespan—from the initial planning stages to construction labor to project completion.
  • Job opportunities related to construction engineering management are expected to grow almost twice as fast as the average across the whole job market.