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Project Engineer vs. Engineer: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Engineers are critical thinkers who use their skills to solve problems. If you’re interested in a career in engineering, you may be wondering what the difference is between a project engineer and an engineer. In this article, we compare and contrast these two engineering positions, and we provide information on education and job outlook.

What is a Project Engineer?

Project Engineers are responsible for planning, organizing and executing engineering projects within budget and schedule constraints. They work with other members of the engineering team, as well as with other departments, to ensure that all aspects of the project are coordinated and completed according to plan. The Project Engineer is also responsible for ensuring that the project meets all safety and quality standards. In some cases, the Project Engineer may also be responsible for training and supervising other members of the engineering team.

What is an Engineer?

Engineers are problem-solvers who apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems. Their work is the link between scientific discoveries and the commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs. Many engineers develop new products. Others develop processes that improve production or design new machines such as internal combustion engines, electric generators, or robots. They also may become technical consultants to industries or may work in quality assurance, inspecting products before they are shipped. Some engineers work in management, financial, or legal fields.

Project Engineer vs. Engineer

Here are the main differences between a project engineer and an engineer.

Job Duties

Although project engineers and regular engineers share some of the same job duties, there are differences between the two professional roles. Regular engineers use their knowledge of mathematics, physics and engineering theory to develop solutions to engineering problems. They perform research, analyze data and develop theories that they can use to create innovative solutions to engineering challenges.

Project engineers apply the skills learned as regular engineers to a specific project. Their job is to oversee the implementation of the solution developed by the regular engineer and other project team members. Project engineers make sure that the product meets the customer’s requirements and manages the budget throughout the life cycle of the project.

Job Requirements

Project engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, although some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. These professionals also need to be licensed by the state in which they work. To become licensed, engineers must pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. The first exam can be taken after earning a bachelor’s degree, while the second exam is only available to those who have at least four years of professional experience.

Engineers need to complete a similar educational path as project engineers. However, their job duties are more focused on designing products or systems rather than overseeing projects. As such, they might need to have more specialized knowledge in their field than project engineers. For example, an engineer who designs bridges will need to know more about structural engineering than a project engineer who manages the construction of that bridge.

Work Environment

Project engineers work on a variety of projects, so they may travel to different locations. They also spend most of their time in an office environment and collaborate with other project engineers, designers and architects.

Engineering professionals typically work in an office or laboratory setting. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend conferences. Some engineering professionals work for the military or government agencies, which can require them to travel frequently.


Both engineers and project engineers use technical skills to complete their work. This includes understanding advanced mathematics, being able to read blueprints and having knowledge of circuit design. However, project engineers also need to have project management skills to be successful in their role. This means they need to be able to plan and execute projects within a given budget and timeframe. They also need to be able to communicate effectively with other members of the engineering team, as well as with clients or customers.

Engineers typically focus on one specific area of engineering, such as mechanical or electrical engineering. Project engineers, on the other hand, often work on multiple types of engineering projects and may be responsible for overseeing the work of other engineers. Because of this, project engineers need to have a broad understanding of different engineering concepts. They also need to be able to juggle multiple tasks at once and be comfortable working with a team of people.


The average salary for a project engineer is $81,905 per year, while the average salary for an engineer is $89,577 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the type of engineering you do, your level of experience and the company at which you work.


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