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Setting out engineer

Also known as -

Site engineer, site technician

Setting out engineers use sites plans, technology and precision instruments to pinpoint and mark structural features above and below ground before construction work begins. They use clear markers to indicate where structures are going to be installed, including access roads, foundations, gas, electricity and water facilities, and drainage systems. They ensure that workers on the site adhere to these markers.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become a setting out engineer

There are several routes to becoming a setting out engineer. You can gain the qualifications you need by completing a university course or an apprenticeship.

You should explore the options to find out which is the right one for you. Setting out engineers usually have several years’ experience in construction.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


You could complete an industry-accredited foundation degree, Higher National Diploma (HND) or undergraduate degree. Relevant subjects include:

  • Civil or structural engineering
  • Building surveying
  • Building engineering
  • Construction studies.

Afterwards, you could apply to graduate trainee schemes with construction firms or engineering companies.

You could also study for a postgraduate award in engineering, as some employers will require this level of expertise.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


An apprenticeship with a construction firm is a good way into the industry. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

You could complete an apprenticeship in Construction and the Built Environment to start you on your career path to being a setting out engineer.

You could then do more specific setting out qualifications on-the-job once you gain a permanent position.

Find out what the entry requirements are where you live.


If you already have experience in one area of construction, such as bricklaying, you may be able to apply directly for a setting out role and then complete on-the-job training with your employer.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a setting out engineer. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone looking to become a setting out engineer include: 

  • Knowledge of buildings and construction
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to interpret detail plans
  • Good spatial awareness.


To become a setting out engineer, you could complete a:

  • Higher Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering
  • Degree in Civil Engineering
  • Foundation Degree in Civil Engineering

To become a setting out engineer, you could complete a:

  • Graduate Apprenticeship in Civil Engineering
  • Degree in Surveying
  • Degree in Civil Engineering

To become a setting out engineer, you could complete a:

  • Degree in Surveying
  • Degree in Civil Engineering

What does a setting out engineer do?

As a setting out engineer you will be responsible for getting a construction site ready for development. This can include working with detailed site plans and levelling the ground ready for work to begin. 

The job role of a setting out engineer involves the following duties:

  • Setting out, levelling and surveying a construction site
  • Working with site plans, drawings and building information models
  • Mapping structural boundaries on the ground using pegs and markers
  • Liaising with designers and engineers to ensure plans and drawings are accurate
  • Overseeing quality control
  • Monitoring health and safety
  • Keeping a site diary
  • Resolving technical problems
  • Working in an office and on a construction site.

How much could you earn as a setting out engineer?

The expected salary for a setting out engineer varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained setting out engineers can earn in the region of £25,000 – £30,000
  • Trained with experience setting out engineers can earn in the region of £30,000 – £35,000
  • Senior Setting Out Engineers can earn in the region of £35,000 – £55,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest setting out engineer vacancies:

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

You could start out as a junior or trainee setting out engineer. With specific training, you could become a building or civil engineer, or a surveyor.

You could also choose to become a site or project manager. Some people set up their own business and work freelance.

You could increase your employability and earn a higher salary by gaining chartered status through the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or another professional institution.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Setting out engineer Be the main technical advisor on site, overseeing quality control & offering gui...
    Read more
  • Current role Site manager Site managers organise work on building sites, making sure it’s completed safely...
    Read more
  • Current role Project manager Considering a career in project management? See what the role of a construction ...
    Read more
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