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Staff Engineer vs. Project Engineer: What Are the Differences?

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

Engineers are in high demand across a variety of industries. Two common engineering roles are that of a staff engineer and a project engineer. Both of these positions require a high level of technical skill, but they have different focuses. In this article, we compare and contrast the job titles of staff engineer and project engineer, and we provide information on what you can expect from each role.

What is a Staff Engineer?

A Staff Engineer is a professional engineer who is responsible for providing engineering support to a company or organization. They may be involved in planning, designing, and overseeing the construction and maintenance of various structures and systems. Staff Engineers may also be responsible for managing and supervising a team of engineers and technicians. In some cases, they may also be responsible for providing technical support and training to other departments within the company.

What is a Project Engineer?

Project Engineers are responsible for the planning and execution of engineering projects. They work with a team of engineers and other professionals to complete the project on time and within budget. Project Engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and several years of experience in the field. They are skilled in project management, engineering design and analysis, and have a strong understanding of industry codes and standards. Project Engineers are responsible for ensuring that the project meets all safety, quality and performance requirements.

Staff Engineer vs. Project Engineer

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

Job Duties

A staff engineer typically performs a wide variety of tasks, which may include managing projects, creating and revising engineering policies and procedures and conducting research. The job duties of a project engineer are more focused on the completion of one project. They may oversee design, construction and implementation while working closely with clients and other engineers. Both positions have similar job duties related to solving technical issues and providing client support.

Job Requirements

To become a staff engineer, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree or higher. Additionally, you must be licensed as a professional engineer (PE) in the state where you plan to practice. To obtain your PE license, you must pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Once you have passed these exams, you can apply for your license through your state’s engineering board.

Project engineers also need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. However, unlike staff engineers, project engineers are not required to be licensed professionals. While licensure is not required, many project engineers choose to pursue it anyway so that they can eventually move into managerial roles or take on more responsibility within their organization. To become a licensed professional engineer, project engineers must complete the same process as staff engineers.

Work Environment

Staff and project engineers work in different environments. Staff engineers typically work in offices, where they can access the necessary resources to complete their projects. They may also travel to visit clients or attend meetings with other staff members. Project engineers often work outdoors on construction sites, where they oversee the implementation of a project. They may also spend time in office settings, but they usually have more freedom than staff engineers because they’re not confined to an office all day.


Both staff engineers and project engineers need to have strong technical skills. They use these skills when they are designing products, researching new technologies and developing prototypes. Both types of engineers also need to be able to effectively communicate their ideas to other members of their team, as well as customers or clients.

However, staff engineers typically work more on the research and development side of things, while project engineers are more focused on seeing projects through from start to finish. This means that project engineers need to have strong project management skills, such as the ability to develop timelines, create budgets and track progress. They also need to be able to troubleshoot problems that arise during a project. Staff engineers may not need to have as strong of project management skills, as they are not typically responsible for overseeing an entire project.


Staff engineers can earn an average salary of $111,406 per year, while project engineers can earn an average salary of $81,905 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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