Construction team members and their roles
Maybe you’re new to the industry, maybe you’re a student considering your prospects, or maybe your partner has just been promoted to ‘Senior Engineer’ and you want to learn more about what she does for a living.
Whatever your reason for wanting to learn about different roles in engineering, we’re here to help.
(It’s worth noting that each of the specific titles may differ from one site to the next but the positions themselves are recognisable across the industry).
It is the Foreman's job to organise, co-ordinate and supervise all of the on-site trades and operatives. They will usually have a lot of site experience and work in tandem with site engineers to make sure that day-to-day tasks are completed safely, on time, and to sufficient quality.
Often referred to by their level of education or discipline (E.g Graduate Engineer or Civil Engineer) these people are the on-site link between the engineering and construction teams. They often work closely with a partnered foreman, focusing on the next one to two weeks of a project and the more granular day-to-day tasks.
Site Engineers typically spend all their working hours on the site itself. They’ll implement plans and resolve minor issues as they arise. Responsibilities include: obtaining permits, organising materials and equipment, ensuring the correct designs are being used, and conducting inspections.
On large projects, there will usually be multiple site engineers, each with their own area of responsibility and all reporting to a Senior Engineer (based off-site).
Next up, the Senior Engineer. Again, this role will vary from site to site depending on the specific discipline, level of experience, and location. Common titles you may come across include: Agents and (Senior) Project Engineers or SPE’s.
This person will often be responsible for managing a team of site engineers; making sure everyone understands what needs to be done to move the master plan along. As with the relationship between site engineers and foremen, the Senior Engineer works in tandem with a Superintendent - The person responsible for managing the foremen on site.
Senior engineers work on less granular tasks than site engineers. They’ll focus on a scope of projects ranging from four weeks to three months (depending on experience), creating weekly plans and reports that keep the master plan on schedule. Once published, these plans will be distributed to site teams to be actioned and planners to update the ongoing Look Ahead Plan.
Despite there being a variety of positions between the two roles, senior engineers will usually report directly to the Project Manager.
Put simply, the role of a Planner is to develop and manage a plan to ensure project delivery is kept on schedule in terms of time and budget.
(That was a lot of planning in one sentence! Ready to go again? Plantastic!)
Planners are responsible for creating reports and pulling together data that’s used for keeping Project Managers and other stakeholders informed and up to date. They’ll liaise with Senior Engineers on a regular basis to get updates, weekly plans, and find out about any potential issues or delays.
The person responsible for keeping the master plan on schedule. They report to both the Project Manager and Planning Manager.
With the support of junior planner(s), senior planners monitor the progress of a project and keep it on track for successful completion. This is done by breaking the master plan down into structured smaller chunks - a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS makes planning more manageable and enables the production of short-term (typically four to six weeks) action plans referred to as look ahead plans.
Project Managers (sometimes referred to as Directors) are ultimately responsible for the management and completion of projects. They manage multiple departments and make top-level decisions that can span across the entirety of the project.
The person in this role usually has a very high level of experience and reports to a regional or general manager who is not directly involved in the project.
What differentiates each role?
The first and most obvious differentiator is that with each progression through the engineering hierarchy, the individual in the role tends to have significantly more experience in the industry.
The second, is that as you progress from one position to the next, the person is less involved with day to day happenings on site. However, the period of time for which they are responsible for planning dramatically increases.
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