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What Does a Planning Engineer Do?

By Meghan Perry
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A planning engineer is generally responsible for a multitude of tasks and is involved in projects from start to finish. This job often carries a lot of responsibility, as the timely completion of a project usually rests on the planning engineer's shoulders. The main job duty is to figure out and plan the best and most efficient way to complete a project.

Right from the earliest stages of a project, planning engineers are involved. During the development phase, they create plans and schedules. They also figure out what materials and equipment will be needed as well as estimate the expected amount of labor in terms of people and cost. In addition, they often calculate the projected overall cost of the project as well as the time line for completion.

To make sure that everything is coordinated and on schedule, planning engineers often attend meetings on a daily basis with other leaders and members of the project team. These meetings are generally held throughout the entire process to make sure that the project team is always on the same page. Aside from providing updates about the project, these meetings may need to address changes to or problems with the project. The meetings provide a forum for the team to come up with solutions.

Once the development stage is completed, planning engineers also oversee the manufacturing phase. This may involve traveling to the project site and monitoring the employees working on the project. Employee safety is also a responsibility of the planning engineer, and implementing proper procedures should be part of the project plan.

Stress is often a part of the job. For example, if the work is not completed according to the schedule, a financial penalty may be levied. This is another reason why it is important for the planning engineer to ensure that all of the team members are working together toward completion of the project.

Planning engineers also work with computers, using planning software to complete the planning duties. Some technical knowledge is required for this. As the planning engineer is also responsible for overseeing the entire project, strong leadership and communication skills are important aspects of the job.

Generally, a bachelor's degree is the minimum educational requirement to become a planning engineer. Planning engineers can work in many industries. The most common include government, construction, oil, and railroad companies. For example, a planning engineer may be responsible for overseeing the construction of a commercial building for another company.

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Discussion Comments

By anon924705 — On Jan 07, 2014

Are material purchasing and material and document submitting also planning jobs?

By fortunate1 — On Oct 08, 2013

What are the primary reasons of going to school or being educated?

By NathanG — On Aug 23, 2011

@miriam98 - That can – and does – happen, but I think those details are worked out before the start of the project.

For example, in the case of a community protest over a particular structure being built, I think that you would run into that problem in the early stages of the project where you have to obtain permits.

If it doesn’t get past this stage, then the project doesn’t go forward. However, I can’t imagine a situation where a project is near completion (with the structure halfway built) and a sudden outburst of community protest brings the thing to a screeching halt.

I’m not saying that it couldn’t happen; it’s just hard for me to imagine the context. These kinds of things are usually nipped at the bud right from the start.

By miriam98 — On Aug 22, 2011

@NathanG - You have to realize that sometimes there are outside variables that may impact the ability of civil engineers to complete projects on schedule.

For example, what if you are building a very controversial, politically or religiously sensitive structure in a community that is, shall we say, less than accommodating to your plan?

Then you could have a real mess on your hands and there would be nothing that you could do.

By NathanG — On Aug 22, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - I think that a planning engineer basically functions like a project manager. Their basic goal is to ensure that a job is completed on time and under budget.

Typically you see project managers work in information technology contexts, to ensure that software is developed that meets with the end users’ requirements.

I think the planning engineer carries a lot more weight with his job. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have an entire building project fail to move ahead on schedule because the engineer didn’t properly plan well for its completion.

You could wind up with a half built building, an enduring and very public reminder of your failure to complete a project.

By SkyWhisperer — On Aug 21, 2011

I work for a company that develops software for the electrical utilities industry. In utilities we have what’s called a transmission power engineer. His basic job responsibilities entail checking how efficient a power system is. He also checks the safety of those systems as well.

Of all of his responsibilities, I think that safety is the most important issue. Without safety you can have catastrophes like substations exploding or simple power outages.

I think that the most stressful part of his job however is that he has to do all of these inspections and ensure that he meets compliance with government regulations; otherwise the auditing agencies can impose heavy fines on the utility company.

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