How to build a successful career in planning and project controls

How to build a successful career in planning and project controls

Planning and project controls are fundamental in the world of engineering, ensuring that projects run on time, on budget and in a safe way through the expert management of scope, schedule, cost, risk, quality, resources and change. The demand is already high for candidates with the right skills and experience, and this is set to continue in line with the predicted growth in engineering across all sectors, including rail, power and the built environment. So with all this opportunity, what is the best way to build a successful career in planning and project controls?

Our planning and project control recruitment experts, who both have over ten years’ experience, alongside Simon Wilson, who came from an Engineering background (and holds a civil engineering degree) and is now a Construction Planner have shared their insights

Balance of education, technical skills and experience

First of all, it’s worth noting that as a VERY GENERAL rule of thumb, contract organisations tend to prefer planning and project control candidates who have ‘come through the ranks’ and started on the tools. Conversely, engineering consultancies generally prefer individuals that have a much more academic background such as an undergraduate degree, a Masters from the APM and Prince 2 certification.

However, whichever type of organisation that a planner or project controller choses to work in, the following will all need to be considered;

1. A relevant education

Although it is a definite bonus, not all planning and project control opportunities will demand that individuals have a degree. However, relevant professional qualifications ideally within civil engineering, construction or M&E will be required. Certification from a professional body such as the Association for Project Management and a Prince 2 qualification are extremely advantageous. But if we are talking about the absolute perfect combination, a civil engineering degree enhanced by APM certification and the Prince 2 qualification is ideal.

2. Specialist software

To add to an engineering education, all planners and project controllers will need to be fluent in either Primavera (P6) or Asta power project software. P6 is more relevant for civil engineering projects and Asta is more relevant for construction.

3. ‘Hands on’ experience

Having hands on experience as an engineer prior to becoming a planner is highly beneficial. This experience enables a better understanding of project dynamics, as well as an enhanced ability to ‘talk the same language’ as project managers and site engineers. The best planners and project controllers have an ‘engineering mindset’ and understand the environment which is best learnt through practical experience.

Profile of a perfect planner

Our specialist recruiter, Conor Robertson refers to successful planner Simon Wilson when describing the perfect package of skills and experience. Here Simon talks about his background, experience and why planning is such a rewarding career.

Simon Wilson, Planner, Alstom TSO Costain, Crossrail Project

“I have been fascinated by construction from a young age which initially attracted me to undertaking a civil engineering degree at the University of Surrey. My subsequent experience working as a civil engineer on various sites, as well as in design helped me to build my engineering knowledge of how construction programmes are developed and progressed.

Since completing my engineering doctorate I have realised the importance of planning in the industry, and decided to pursue it as a career. Coming from an engineering background has been very helpful, as engineers are familiar with construction drawings and are able to formulate a mental picture of the required design, and anticipate what is required for the programme to stay on track.

I am currently working for Costain, as part of the ATC (Alstom TSO Costain) joint venture with Crossrail which will deliver the new London underground ‘Elizabeth line’ and associated underground stations. The work is challenging and rewarding as I have the opportunity to liaise directly with the project managers and site engineers to deliver the best solution for Crossrail, and ultimately the millions of citizens and visitors of London”.

Average planning and project controls salary

It’s important to have realistic salary expectations, especially at entry level. Engineering salary survey defines the average salaries for planning and project control employees by years of experience. Planners can expect to earn an average of approximately £35,000 per annum when starting out. This will then grow to an average of £60,000 by 9-10 years of experience, with the potential to earn in excess of £80,000 as an experienced employee.

Looking for a new opportunity or want to recruit a Planning or Project Control Engineer?

You can search for the latest planning engineer jobs at our dedicated discipline page or contact one of our recruitment specialists below:

Conor Murray-Robertson For contract planning and project control opportunities

Conor Robertson

0118 9241183


Stephen O'Connell For permanent planning and project control opportunities

Stephen O'Connell

0118 924 1109

This entry was posted on 15th May 2017. It was filed under the Planning & Project Controls, categories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. What's RSS?.