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Navy Civil Engineer Corps officers work stateside and in foreign countries at ports of call or U.S. military bases. They may provide humanitarian aid or build new military installations and public works projects. Navy civil engineers can focus their careers in one of three areas -- contract management, construction battalions or public works -- or they can choose to combine all three into one far-reaching career.
Civil Engineer Corps officers who work in contract management are the primary liaisons between civilian contractors and the U.S. Navy. Some contracts represent several hundred-million dollars of taxpayer money. Contract managers may handle all aspects of their projects, such as modifications to design plans to eliminate current or potential problems, manage construction efforts or verify that all payments are processed according to regulations.
The Navy's construction battalions are more commonly called the Seabees. Officers in charge of a construction battalion may supervise the activities of as many as 600 Seabees, who are enlisted sailors with construction skills. They may build bridges so that Army and Marine land forces can cross rivers, construct an airfield, erect a building or construct an entire Naval installation or port. Their activities may be geared toward military deployment, or they may be humanitarian in nature.
Some Navy installations are the size of a city. Navy civil engineering officers who specialize in public works wear many different hats. They may oversee the actual construction of the facility or approve plans for projects. They supervise the installation of utilities and related maintenance, upgrades or repairs. When ships arrive, they may provide services that the ships need to continue their mission. They also manage budgets, both for construction projects and routine operations.
Becoming a Navy Civil Engineering Corps Officer
Navy Civil Engineering Corps officers need, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in architecture or electrical, civil or mechanical engineering. They must be U.S. citizens and between the ages of 19 and 35. The Navy has a strict policy on substance abuse, so officers must pass drug and alcohol screenings and answer questions about prior use. Officers must meet the Navy's moral and character standards, and candidates are subject to an in-depth background check. They must also meet the Navy's medical standards. As of 2013, the minimum initial commitment for officers was three years.
Navy officers begin their training in Newport, Rhode Island, at the Navy's Officer Candidate School. During the 12 weeks they spend at OCS, candidates receive instruction in commanding Navy vessels, leadership, basic military training and physical conditioning. After OCS, candidates attend Civil Engineer Corps Officer School for their specialized instruction. Candidates may then receive additional training, such as advanced engineering or financial management.
What Navy Civil Engineering Corps Officers Earn
Navy pay depends on an officer's rank and length of military service. The Department of Defense issues a revised pay table annually. Most Navy officers begin with the rank of ensign and a pay grade of O-1. As of 2013, ensigns earned between $2,876.40 and $3,619.20 in monthly base pay. The next pay grade, O-2, represents a lieutenant junior grade, and they earned between $3,314.10 and $4,586.40 per month. A lieutenant, or O-3, earned between $3,835.50 and $6,240. In addition, officers could receive up to $1,100 per month as a subsistence allowance and at least $660.90 as a monthly housing allowance.