Imagine the following scenario: A natural disaster has struck close to home. The National Guard has been called in to help with recovery efforts, including providing emergency food and medical supplies to residents. To assist in these efforts, the Army Corps of Engineers needs a group of experienced engineers. A geospatial engineer is required to analyze satellite images of the area to determine safe and passable points of entry. A horizontal construction engineer is called in to clear debris. This is just one of many situations you may see as an Army engineer.

The federal government offers several types of Army engineering job opportunities. Some positions require advanced technical knowledge to design durable and environmentally friendly structures. Others may require the ability to use heavy construction equipment to bring designs to life. The path to any one of these exciting careers may begin by enlisting as an active-duty soldier, becoming an officer, or joining the Army Civilian Service.

Civilian military jobs with the Army Civilian Service do not serve as active-duty military members, but their roles may support military operations. They may also design bridges or buildings that adhere to strict environmental standards using durable materials. The Army Corps of Engineers, consisting primarily of civilian Army engineers, offers a unique work environment that gives you the opportunity to make a difference in exciting locations around the world. Read on to discover more about becoming a U.S. Army engineer.

A group of engineers in hard hats test solar panels

What Does an Army Engineer Do?

A U.S. Army engineer performs a wide variety of tasks that vary depending on their position. An engineer may study satellite imagery to construct maps that help Army commanders develop tactical strategies, or they may use their expertise to build infrastructure. The following section details a few common engineering career paths you may pursue in the Army.

Army Engineering Jobs

The Army employs engineers a wide range of positions that are divided between enlisted, officer, and civilian roles. These distinctions are important to keep in mind as you begin your professional journey. Officer and civilian engineering positions, for example, typically require a bachelor's degree with an educational background in engineering, whereas enlisted Army engineers may receive much of their training on the job.

For enlisted members, U.S. Army engineer positions may be broken down into three main tasks: combat engineering, strategic support, and ancillary support. Each role within these categories is responsible for different aspects of an engineering project and requires its own set of expertise and specialized skills.

So, whether your skills lie in planning, implementing, or providing support, the army offers an engineering role for you. Army engineering jobs may even prepare individuals for lucrative jobs in the private sector once their commitment is complete.

Army Engineer Officer Careers

Engineer Officer

An engineer officer's primary task is to provide support to a broad range of Army engineering projects. They may help build infrastructure, develop civil works programs, conduct search and rescue missions, train forces, or write policies.

Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree and Basic Officer Leadership Course

Environmental Science/Engineer Officer

This position focuses on identifying, researching, and recommending courses of action to minimize health hazards. Other tasks include developing environmental and hygiene standards as well as promoting policies and practices that minimize the spread of disease or injury.

Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree and Basic Officer Leadership Course

Army Engineer Enlisted Careers

Combat Engineer

A combat engineer works in combat situations. Primary tasks include strategizing combat positions, placing and detonating explosives, clearing roadways for vehicles or troops, and detecting mines visually or using specialized equipment.

Minimum Education: 14 weeks of One Station Unit Training and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Geospatial Engineer

A geospatial engineer is primarily responsible for analyzing geographical data from satellite imagery to construct maps. The data also helps engineers prepare briefs detailing terrain to help commanders visualize battlefields.

Minimum Education: 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training, 20 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Horizontal Construction Engineer

This role requires using bulldozers, cranes, graders, or other heavy equipment to clear, grade, or excavate earth. Other tasks may include transporting construction equipment and assisting combat engineers in their maneuvers.

Minimum Education: 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training, nine weeks of Advanced Individual Training, and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Special Forces Engineer Sergeant

A special forces engineer sergeant's primary tasks include carrying out demolition raids to paralyze an enemy's key infrastructure. They must be proficient in interpreting maps and teaching a wide range of tasks including explosives, field fortification, and bridging.

Minimum Education: 44 weeks of classroom training and practice exercises along with passing the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Technical Engineer

A technical engineer surveys, maps, and prepares plans for construction projects. Other tasks may include conducting tests on construction materials, providing technical support to vertical and horizontal projects, and building scale models.

Minimum Education: 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training, 17 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Watercraft Engineer

This role is responsible for supervising and maintaining Army watercraft and auxiliary equipment. Job duties include performing daily systems checks, repairing engines, troubleshooting propulsion machinery, and servicing engine-related electrical systems.

Minimum Education: 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training, 10 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, and pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

Source: U.S. Army

Army Engineer Salary

An active-duty Army engineer's salary varies widely depending on whether they are enlisted or an officer. A private can make $20,000 a year after completing basic training, and experienced Army engineer officer can make up to $77,000 a year. An engineer's pay is largely determined by experience, years of service, and their position or title. It may include a stipend for housing or education.

The salary for civilian engineers is determined differently from enlisted engineers and officers. In general, the Army breaks down wages into five levels using position type and years of experience to determine an individual's salary.

What Is the Army Corps of Engineers?

The Army Corps of Engineers was established as a permanent branch of the U.S. Army in March of 1802 to serve both military and civilian needs. It consists of mostly civilian employees, with about 32,000 civilian employees and 700 military personnel. The Army Corps of Engineers offers public engineering services to communities in over 130 countries.

The Army Corps of Engineers aims to bolster national security, stimulate economies, and reduce disaster risk. Engineers use principles of environmental sustainability to design and develop strong and reliable infrastructure, clean and clear waterways, and construct buildings for educational and military training.

Army Corps of Engineer Jobs

Jobs in the military take a variety of forms. Each position focuses on a specific task and requires specialized knowledge and training in addition to basic Army training. In general, the Army trains prospective engineers to analyze data, design and develop project plans, study and test equipment or environments, and use construction equipment to complete projects.

A few examples of engineering careers available to officers include architect, civil engineer, environmental engineer, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer. The skills gained through these careers may prepare Army engineers to pursue civilian careers once their obligation to the Army is complete.

Army Corps of Engineers Civilian Sample Jobs

Architect

An architect's primary duties include overseeing the design, development, review, and implementation of building projects. Architects may also ensure projects meet specifications and adhere to strict safety criteria. The Army typically constructs facilities such as housing, hospitals, or schools.

Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree

Civil Engineer

A civil engineer is responsible for planning, designing, constructing, and maintaining water sources, Army installations, and a variety of other federal or local government projects. A few common civil engineer projects include developing roadways, airfields, hospitals, dams, levees, or laboratories.

Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree

Environmental Engineer

An environmental engineer's primary focus is on preserving and maintaining natural resources. Common projects may include restoring degraded ecosystems, constructing sustainable facilities, regulating waterways, and cleaning contaminated sites. Their primary tasks are to assess facilities, infrastructure, and environmental habitats to determine their state and develop strategies to minimize or prevent damage.

Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree

Mechanical Engineer

A mechanical engineer's primary duties include designing and constructing mechanical systems for industrial, environmental, or architectural structures. Typical projects may involve building, maintaining, and repairing machinery, gas lines, heating and cooling systems, hydraulic systems, piping, or water treatment facilities.

Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree

Electrical Engineer

An electrical engineer specializes in designing complex power systems that control dams, power grids, signal circuits, and electrical power installations. Other duties may include developing electrical systems for office buildings, maintenance shops, dining facilities, hospitals, and other electrical solutions for the Army.

Minimum Education: Bachelor's degree

Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Benefits of Being an Army Engineer

A career as an Army engineer comes with several benefits. The benefits available to both civilian and non-civilian employees extend beyond healthcare or vacation and include unique job opportunities in exciting locations around the world. The benefits available to civilian and non-civilian Army engineers may vary.

Some benefits available to only enlisted members may include an additional stipend for housing, education, and access to family and soldier services. Some benefits available to all employees of the Army Corps of Engineers include healthcare, paid vacation, sick leave, retirement plans, and bonuses for exceptional job performance. The exact benefits such as number of vacation days or retirement plans may vary depending on an employee's experience level and position. In general, the Army offers a competitive salary and benefits package.

A group of engineers in hard hats test solar panels

How to Become an Army Engineer

To become an engineer with the Army you must complete a series of steps. The exact steps vary depending on whether you are enlisting in the Army, becoming an officer, or joining the Army Civilian Service. For example, if you want to pursue a specific role such as a Special Forces engineer sergeant, you may need to complete additional training to qualify. If want to enlist, you must complete the following five steps.

While specific steps for becoming a U.S. Army engineer officer are not outlined below, individuals interested in this path should consider enrolling in one of several U.S. military academies, participating in ROTC at a U.S. college, or earning a bachelor's degree and completing the Army's Basic Officer Leadership Course.

Becoming an Enlisted U.S. Army Engineer

  • Step 1: Meet With a Recruiter

    The process of meeting with a recruiter is similar to a job interview. You should prepare to answer basic questions regarding your education, criminal history, marital status, age, and your physical fitness. You must also complete a mini-ASVAB exam. You may access practice exams on the Army's website.

  • Step 2: Take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Test

    The ASVAB test measures current abilities and aims to predict your future academic and occupational success in the military. It is required for all enlistees, and scores are valid for two years. It covers basic subject areas such as science, arithmetic reasoning, English, reading comprehension, and assembling objects. Your score determines which jobs you qualify for.

  • Step 3: Do a Physical Fitness Evaluation

    The physical exam must be taken at your nearest Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). You will undergo a thorough medical evaluation and your body composition will be measured to determine your physical fitness. Many roles in the Army require officers to be physically fit to traverse difficult terrain or handle harsh conditions. To pass, you must meet the height and weight measurements for your age group.

  • Step 4: Explore Engineering Careers and Review Enlistment Agreement With a Counselor

    After completing preliminary examinations, you will meet with a service liaison counselor to learn about careers available to you and review the enlistment agreement. The enlistment agreement is a contract between you and the Army. It requires you to meet certain obligations for the duration of your contract. Failure to comply may result in criminal or civil penalties against you.

  • Step 5: Prepare for Basic Training

    The final step is to prepare for basic combat training. The training lasts 10 weeks and is broken down into four phases: the red, white, blue, and graduation phase. The red phase focuses on field exercises and developing teamwork skills. During the white phase you learn marksmanship and repelling. The blue phase continues your weapons training and includes night infiltration training. The final phase is graduation which marks your successful completion of training and eligibility to enter Advanced Individual Training (AIT).

The process for becoming an engineer with the Army Civilian Service is very different than for individuals pursuing careers through enlistment. To apply, you must complete the following seven steps.

Becoming a Civilian Army Engineer

  • Step 1: Create a USAJOBS Account and Profile

    You must first create a USAJOBS account, which requires an email address, username, and password. To create your job profile you must enter contact information, citizenship status, and work experience. You may also upload your resume and cover letter to easily apply to available jobs.

  • Step 2: Search for Engineering Jobs

    Searching for jobs is simple. Type in the job type, agency, and location in the USAJOBS search bar, and you'll get a list of results matched to your query.

  • Step 3: Make Sure You Meet all Eligibility and Qualification Requirements

    Before applying, you should ensure you meet both eligibility and qualification requirements. Eligibility does not entail your work experience, but typically refers to basic requirements such as needing to be a current or former federal employee to qualify for a role. Other eligibility requirements may require you to be a current student or recent graduate. Qualifications refer to your work experience, education level, and your overall knowledge or expertise in your field.

  • Step 4: Start Your Application

    Once you review a job's eligibility and qualification requirements and determine you meet them, you must begin your application. To create an application, first log in to your USAJOBS account and ensure your profile is complete. Then upload your resume, any required documents, and answer any applicable questions associated with the job posting. These may vary depending on the agency you apply with so it's important to review job postings carefully.

  • Step 5: Submit Your Application

    Before submitting your application, you must certify that all information is complete, true, and made in good faith by checking the box and then click to continue to the agency's site. Depending on the agency or position you're applying for, you may need to complete additional steps in the application process.

  • Step 6: Interview

    If your resume meets the agency's eligibility and qualification requirements, they may request an interview. Each agency may use a different process, but it is common for hiring managers to first conduct a preliminary phone or video interview. If you pass this step you may be called in for an in-person interview with the hiring manager or an interview with a panel. It may take a few weeks to hear back, but it depends on the agency and whether they require any additional information from you.

  • Step 7: Accept Offer and Do Background Investigation

    If the agency decides to offer you the job they will extend a tentative job offer. If you accept the offer you must undergo a thorough background check. This entails providing previous addresses, employers, schools attended, and any military or police records. You must also be fingerprinted if you've never worked for the federal government. If you pass this process, the agency will extend a final offer for acceptance and provide a start date.