In the construction industry, the principal engineer is responsible for a number of key roles including managing project risk, designing the project's safety plan and implementing key safety systems, as well as ensuring that all other aspects of the design process are proceeding according to schedule and within budget. In addition to this, the engineer is often involved in the drafting of the building's comprehensive construction documents, the creation of various master plans and the preparation of blueprints, as well as contributing heavily towards the foundation documents of the project. Although the principal engineer is often a direct participant in the design and construction of a project, many projects now require the assistance and expertise of the senior level engineers.
There are a variety of senior engineer jobs available within the principal engineer role, which generally involve one of two main areas of responsibility. Project managers are primarily responsible for the day-to-day management of the overall progress of the project. In some cases, project managers will act as the principal engineer in a supervisory capacity, reporting directly to the project manager. However, in most cases, a principal engineer will report to the project manager or a more senior engineer, who may in turn report to a higher level of the firm.
Senior engineers, meanwhile, perform work that is not central to the principal's job description, such as evaluating and managing systems and software used in the project. The majority of engineering positions in the United Kingdom fall into this category, although there are some exceptions, such as those in the civil engineering and civil technology sectors. Junior engineers are typically employed as aides and assistants to the senior engineers, carrying out tasks that directly relate to their position. Some examples of junior engineer jobs include junior architects, junior surveying engineers and junior programmers.
In terms of training and education, both engineers must hold a Builders' Licence, which allows them to apply a range of quality control techniques to any building construction. To be an effective builder, an engineer must possess exceptional mechanical, electrical and structural engineering skills, along with a clear understanding of building regulations. An engineer must also be willing to learn new technology and strategies on a regular basis, as new tools, techniques and materials become available all the time. It is for these reasons that principal engineers are much sought after by firms that have an interest in developing state-of-the-art structures, while minimizing the construction costs associated with doing so.
It is important to note that just because an engineer is technically capable of performing the majority of the design work for a project, does not mean that he will be an effective leader or manager. Effective managers and leaders make it their business to effectively plan the overall completion of a project, delegating all necessary tasks to their staff. Principals are not usually involved in the early stages of a project, instead opting to delegate work to his or her staff. If an engineer's main role during the development phase is to oversee and manage the design process and design, as well as the whole project, then this is likely to result in a substandard outcome.
Therefore, principal involvement is absolutely necessary when it . . . . . . comes to managing and completing projects. The primary responsibility of a principal engineer should be to plan and oversee the design phase of a project. At no point should an engineer be allowed to take full control or responsibility over any aspect of a project, instead delegating these responsibilities to project managers and/or team members. A good principal should be willing to closely monitor the progress of his staff and ensure that they are on track, even if this involves holding them back a bit. This can be very difficult, especially in large projects, but good project managers are trained to recognize this and are able to do so without negatively affecting a project's effectiveness.