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Construction Technologist


Many important structures in our lives including bridges, airports, dams and buildings that we take for granted are the products of construction engineering. For example, office buildings, which provide people with safe and comfortable offices require the expertise and technical skills of a construction technologist. Construction technologists provide technical support and services to construction engineers and contractors and help design and build different types of structures. Architects may design the buildings we see around us, but construction technologist help figure out how to build them safely and economically so that they can withstand all expected loads.

A construction technologist serves as the link between civil engineers and skilled craftsmen. They adopt scientific, mathematical and engineering theories in order to solve various technical problems in the areas of research and development, manufacturing, construction, inspection and maintenance. Some technologists estimate constructions costs and suggest materials to be used in particular projects, while others conduct land surveys and ground tests and take measurements. Many technologists develop engineering designs and drawings from preliminary concepts and sketches and prepare construction specifications, cost and material estimates, project schedules and reports. Some also monitor instruments used in different research studies.

Most construction technologists specialize in a specific area once they gain some experience, such as research and development, quality control or manufacturing. While assisting in development and research, technologists often work in laboratories conducting scientific studies and research. They also participate in field surveys, inspections or technical investigations of topography, soils, drainage and water supply systems around construction sites and provide their findings as data in projects. Quality control involves conducting inspections and tests that must be performed in order to examine the existing quality of buildings. The manufacturing side deals more with hands-on design, development and even possibly production.

Construction technologists use traditional and high-tech tools like Intelligent Transportation Systems and Smart Systems to help engineers solve problems and meet challenges such as traffic congestion, exhaust pollution and urban development in relation to our infrastructure. Then they can create construction designs from this data to help improve roads and other existing structures. Accordingly, when construction technologists conduct research, they must find the most cost-effective solutions to problems within safety and environmental standards. They are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
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  Interests and Skills  
Construction technologists are interested in mathematics, science and technology. They enjoy working with scientific equipment and computers in offices and laboratories, but also like to switch working environments, and work on-site, outdoors. Technologists analyze information and design sketches in order to solve problems. Attention to details is an important trait to possess as well as working effectively under pressure with deadline situations. Since many construction technologists assist in design and drawing projects, creativity and artistry is also desirable. Finally, they should also enjoy working with people because when on site, they are dealing with engineers, construction workers and architects.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Develop and implement construction designs and drawings from preliminary concepts and sketches
  • Prepare construction specifications, cost and material estimates, project schedules and reports
  • Conduct field surveys, inspections or technical investigations of topography, soils, drainage and water supply systems in relation to the construction site to provide data for construction projects
  • Conduct inspection and testing of construction materials
  • Assist in planning and scheduling construction projects
  • May supervise, monitor and inspect construction projects
  • Prepare cost estimates and monitor project costs
  • Draft detailed dimensional drawings and designs layouts for projects and to ensure conformance to specifications
  • Ensure that safety and design specifications are followed and pollution control requirements are met
  • This field provides indoor and outdoor workplace environments with both private contractors and public or governmental agencies. For those wishing to work in an office setting, opportunities exist for AutoCAD operators, estimators and designers. A laboratory setting offers hands-on scientific research and experimentation in soil analysis, material testing and inspection. Outdoor work opportunities include preliminary and construction surveying, inspecting all types of civil projects and working as construction personnel in various capacities. A typical day can often include both indoor office or laboratory work and some outdoor fieldwork. It is important to note that some construction technologists may be exposed to hazards on the job from chemicals, toxic materials or equipment.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Construction technologists work in both the public and private sectors. They are employed by government departments like Transportation and the Environment (especially in the municipal sector), engineering consulting firms, construction companies, electrical utilities, research and educational institutions, communications companies, the manufacturing, processing and transportation industries, and many other industries. Some construction technologists work for private engineers in small consulting firms.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Entry-level construction technologists may begin their career by performing routine duties under the close supervision of an engineer. They usually work in an engineering office helping to produce construction documents, or with a contracting firm helping to control the construction of an engineering project. As technologists gain experience, they are often given more responsibility and more challenging assignments, often with less supervision.

Certain technologists may eventually move into more managerial roles and become supervisors. Additional experience could lead to work as a building inspector, CAD operator or a draftsperson for a municipal engineering department. Further advancement opportunities could include supervisory and project management positions. Possible career options for construction technologists include employment as drafters, surveyors, cartographers, building and construction specialists, photogrammetrists and surveying technicians.

  Educational Paths  
Completion of a two- or three-year college program in civil engineering technology is usually required for construction technologists. A certification in civil engineering technology or a related field is available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians, and may be required for some positions.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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