what is a section engineer?


Large-scale engineering projects such as bridges, tunnels or railways require whole teams of engineers to complete. The leader of one of these teams uses not only engineering knowledge but also management and communications skills. This is the role of a section engineer, who runs a team of site engineers on a large project. 

A successful section engineer is part technical expert and part project manager. As a section engineer, you communicate with management as well as consultants and contractors. You also take responsibility for policies that affect your whole team, such as health and safety rules. This varied job requires creative thinking and problem-solving, as well as the ability to manage multiple tasks at once. 

Would working as a section engineer suit your technical skills and leadership qualities? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a section engineer role.

section engineer jobs

average salary of a section engineer

As a section engineer, you are a qualified professional whose work is crucial to the success of the project as a whole, and your salary reflects this. According to ONS, the median salary of a section engineer is approximately £45,000 per year. New section engineers tend to make less, with salaries a little under £40,000, while more experienced site engineers can earn over £75,000 a year. This average is slightly above the national average for engineering jobs, which is approximately £42,500 a year. 

other factors affecting compensation

Your pay as a section engineer varies based on a number of factors, including experience. It can also vary based on where you work. Areas of the country with higher costs of living, such as London, tend to offer higher salaries. 

Close up - Smiling male looking away.
Close up - Smiling male looking away.

types of section engineer

Some section engineers move from project to project, while others specialise in working in a single industry. This is especially common in fields with ongoing large-scale infrastructure projects, such as transportation. You may see section engineer jobs advertised as specific to one field, such as railways. However, the skills needed overlap heavily with other types of section engineer jobs. 


working as a section engineer

Your day as a section engineer is a varied one. You could find yourself preparing a report on the project's progress, ordering materials for the next phase, or troubleshooting a problem with your site engineers. If you like variety, this job won't disappoint you.


education and skills

A degree in engineering is the most common path to a job as a section engineer. Civil engineering is the most common specialisation for this type of degree. In addition to your engineering expertise, you will bring some experience to this role. Section engineers have previous experience in large engineering projects, often as a site engineer. 

In addition to academic qualifications, membership in some professional engineering bodies can be helpful:

  • although not all section engineers are Members of the Institution of Civil Engineers (MICE), many are. 
  • similarly, you don't need to be a chartered engineer (CEng) to be a section engineer, but it's another attribute that can impress employers. 
  • finally, you'll need to demonstrate that you have the necessary practical qualifications to work on a job site. These include a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, which most sites will require. 

You may also require a health, safety and environment qualification such as a qualification from the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health (NEBOSH).

skills and competencies

Even though technical skill is important to your work as a section engineer, it isn't the only important qualification. In addition to your knowledge of the techniques and materials your team uses, you will need good interpersonal, organisational and communications skills. In order to keep your section running smoothly, you'll need a range of other skills, including: 

  • good written communication skills for writing reports and instructions
  • strong verbal communication and leadership skills to help you manage your team
  • time management and scheduling skills to keep your project on schedule
  • attention to detail to help you supervise your site engineers
  • multi-tasking to stay on top of the different tasks your team are working on
three colleagues having a conversation at breaktime
three colleagues having a conversation at breaktime

FAQs about working as a section engineer

Want to learn more about working as a section engineer? Then check out this article. 

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