Careers/Jobs

Construction Technology Roles for Aspiring Engineering Graduates

New technology start-ups are redefining how construction job sites are run—giving birth to new competencies, new professions. Which one will you take on?

Sitting at the cusp of an era-defining change, the AEC industries are caught amid a technology revolution—where applications and software are changing how designing, construction planning, and building execution is done.

These improvements come with good cause.

The construction industry’s decades’ long struggle with productivity is one half of the problem. The other is the slow adoption of innovative tech by construction professionals. Construction project managers have traditionally been under mounting pressure to close projects on time and under budget. Not being able to respond to dynamic challenges has compelled experts to look another way.

Retracing steps to sub-optimal performance, developing research has shown that collaborative project delivery will set the stage for smooth technology adoption. Integrated project delivery method, a popular management approach taken by construction businesses, lets teams lead projects to successful outcomes. Owing to its wider scale of use in public construction projects, owners are realizing the potential of the IPD model. This article illuminates the results that await projects willing to use this model.

Honing a technological focus in construction roles will deliver on IPD’s promise. On the flip side, seeing a modest ROI being registered by companies that did integrate construction software into existing systems, project owners have grown hesitant to deploy them at scale. No longer will carrying piles of drawing sheets from one work zone to another help efficiency targets. Inducting skilled technology users who will see your company through this digital transformation is fast gaining ground.

To all aspiring engineers seeking tech-savvy roles, or established engineers yearning for a career change—here is a career treat to realize your dreams.

Before diving into tech-specific roles, let’s review the educational requirements to enter this niche.

What Can You Do With a Construction Technology Degree?

Make a difference that’s overdue since the 1990s. Engineers who choose to gain technological expertise can manage construction operations twice as efficiently as their less keen counterparts.

They learn construction methods using project management software, and how to collaborate digitally with diverse project teams. Whether working on residential or commercial construction projects, they’re armed with productivity-enhancing tools empowering them to produce realistic timelines and predictions.

Below are popular construction technology jobs.

Construction Manager

Also called a construction project manager, this individual is responsible for on-field construction activities. They help plan, delegate, direct, and close projects through a variety of tasks. These typically involve choosing the right contractor for a project, co-ordinating job site functions, and reporting to the project manager, who represents the construction owner. In the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s finding, companies prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree for this role, with a steady record of handling small-scale fieldwork through practicums. BLS predicts a 5 per cent growth in demand for this role by 2024.

As in-charge, construction project managers are expected to be a point of contact between the higher-ups (architects, owners, clients) and on-field teams (contractor and sub-contractor teams).

A strong work ethic displayed by construction workers holding a bachelor’s degree can easily make managers within 3-4 years.

Cost Estimator

The name gives it away. They create the budget for a project to aid bidding processes.

Construction budgets are tight and complex. A slew of considerations mainly including direct and indirect costs govern the cost estimator’s discretion in building a reasonable budget. Its criticality can’t be emphasized enough because projects can be doomed to fail even with a small estimation error or incorrectly entered material value.

Expecting a 9 per cent growth in demand for this role by 2024, BLS has reported that those with a construction tech-based degree will edge out their competition. Candidates need a bachelor’s degree with a demonstrable history of field experience backed by a strong academic standing in mathematics and the business end of construction.

Civil Engineer

Resembling an architect’s role in many ways, a civil engineer plans and designs building projects big and small. They give wheels to a project’s vision, ensuring a steadfast delivery across its lifecycle.

Often, they are project visionaries developing their plan of action simultaneously, working with diverse teams together. Their design knowledge and engineering acumen combine into a powerful skillset that affords them an enviable pay.

Possessing thorough knowledge of construction codes and regulations, they are also experts in estimating costs. They come with a strong background in physics and calculus as it applies to the construction process. They’re responsible for the structural integrity and architectural soundness of a building.

Civil engineers are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree with a strong focus on structural design, physics, and mathematics. They’re commonly accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and are licensed by the province/state. They’re required to hold a minimum of four years of training and pass the Principles and Practices of Engineering Exam. BLS pegs growth in demand for this role at 8 per cent by 2024.

Drafters

They produce technical drawings out of drawings and plans provided by architects. Mainly working with CAD (Computer-Aided Design), drafters are heavy users of CAD files—mostly 2D and 3D file types—while working from a desk. These roles are in the minority albeit with a crucial tech focus. Engineering graduates with a construction technology degree may not always find their desired profile within this niche and hence would be well-advised to look for broader tech roles. BLS forecasts this role’s demand to rise to 6 per cent by 2020.

For those interested to further their pursuit of CAD, here is a post detailing CAD roles recently introduced to the workforce.

Closing Thoughts

The global construction industry averaged about 1 per cent growth in productivity over the last two decades. If AEC industries expedite technology integration, they can match other sectors clocking a 3 to 4 per cent uptick in productivity, resulting in an output increase of $1.6 trillion annually.

Construction technology degrees enhance the earning potential of engineers with requisite qualifications. Degree holders can raise their salaries from a median of $50,000 to over $100,000 commensurate with experience. Alongside adapting to tech trends, engineers will need to take modules in steadily growing construction trends of sustainable construction and smart tech construction.

Most of these roles require proper academic training and measurable field experience. It’s recommended that you get started on your coursework and seek opportunities with local construction firms as your training progresses.

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