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Planning Engineer career guide

Being meticulously organised and able to lead a team is just a couple of qualities needed to make a successful planning engineer.

Safeera Sarjoo
05th April 2016
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What is a Planning Engineer?

A planning engineer has a very demanding job, which requires them to be a stickler when it comes to organization and leadership. Planning engineers oversee projects along with a project manager. Depending on the stage of a particular project, they can be based either on site or in an office.

Planning engineers work out a sequence of activities and tasks that are needed in order to complete a project and implement them to the best effect. It’s a logistics game as planning engineers are responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly until the project they’re working on has been completed. Though this seems fairly straightforward, they must also anticipate particular demands, which may arise. This includes workforce demands, equipment and technical elements.

Calculating whether a project can be completed in the time required is another part of a planning engineer’s job that can be quite stressful. If there is a client involved then it is down to the planning engineer to ensure that everyone involved on a particular project understands how their activities relate to others to avoid delays. If there isn’t a client involved then planning engineers have to determine a timescale and work to see this through to completion.

Avoiding delays is imperative as there may be clauses in contracts that can force the company to pay penalties if deadlines are not met. Sometimes these penalties can be millions of pounds – depending on the client. Large projects are carried out on behalf of oil companies, construction companies, government and the rail network.    

In terms of gender equality, this role is one of the more balanced male-female ratio within the sector, however females tend to prefer financial engineering to planning.

What are their responsibilities?

Regular tasks undertaken by planning engineers includes:

  • Understanding what is expected of them from each project
  • Developing a network of work appropriate for projects
  • Identifying the best series of events in the correct order so projects are completed on time and on budget
  • Producing and presenting visual aids to help explain the schedule of work
  • Using technology to help keep the project on course
  • Monitoring the progress at all stages
  • Liaising with the project manager
  • Adjusting schedules if need be
  • Advising people involved on projects
  • Ensuring that separate elements of the project fit together, work towards the same aim and do not clash which could result in delays

What skills and characteristics suit this role?

Given the demanding nature of a planning engineer role, the following skills and characteristics are essential in order to succeed within this career:

  • Working as part of a team
  • Exceptional leadership skills
  • Close attention to detail
  • Being able to motivate others and keep final aim in mind
  • Good communication and organization
  • Being able to have an abstract view and see how individual elements contribute to an overall aim
  • Good numeracy, literacy and technical skills
  • Remaining calm under pressure
  • Ability to think of contingencies when faced with potential delays

Entry Requirements and Training

Although there is no degree level qualification specifically for planning, a Project Controls NVQ is becoming valued by employers.

Employers may ask for good GCSEs and prior experience working in a construction or engineering environment. In addition to this a degree in an engineering subject can be required by employers.

Some other requirements include a minimum HNC in a suitable discipline as well as experience in a planning role. This is preferred within the oil and gas industry. 

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