Home / Career Guides / How to Become a VDC Engineer

How to Become a VDC Engineer

If you are an experienced engineer with excellent communication and interpersonal skills, advanced technical skills, and a creative mind, a VDC engineer might be a great choice for your next career move.

Virtual design and construction (VDC) engineers oversee the planning, visualization, and computer modeling of building and construction projects. VDC engineers need strong interpersonal skills as they collaborate with civil engineers, architects, contractors, and clients in designing and creating construction plans. Artistic ability and advanced technical knowledge are required to excel as a VDC engineer. VDC engineers create digital models of buildings and project sites and must be able to interpret design models and drawings and turn them into virtual designs. 

Accuracy and attention to detail are needed skills to ensure plans and computer modeling are correct. VD engineers must have expertise in using AutoCAD products. As a VDC engineer, you should be able to work independently or with minimal supervision, and have exceptional listening and communication skills.

Sample job description

In any building project, a large team of professionals is required. One of the essential employees is that of a virtual design and construction (VDC) engineer. We are looking for an exceptional VDC engineer who can manage the planning and computer modeling of building projects. As a VDC engineer, you will need to be able to effectively work with designers, modelers, and architects to make sure information is up-to-date and accurate across departments as the project moves forward.

We are looking for someone who can generate construction drawings using CADD and AutoCAD software and who can work under pressure to meet tight deadlines. You will need to be someone with a high attention to detail who can identify any issues with structural and architectural documents that might not be appropriate according to local code requirements. If you have these skills, can multitask, and enjoy working as a team, this might be a great fit for you.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Use design and modeling software to create 3-D plans for projects
  • Collaborate with BIM Modelers, architects, and clients 
  • Determine the proper elements and scale for buildings
  • Gather and analyze data on costs, materials, and labor

Education and experience

VDC engineers need to earn a high school diploma or equivalent, preferably with classes in math, science, design, and computer graphics. They should receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, ideally in an engineering or construction-related field. Graduates who go on to earn a master’s degree and certification will expand their career opportunities.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong collaborative and interpersonal skills
  • Knowledge of BIM modeling and Autodesk Revit software
  • Time-management skills and the ability to meet deadlines
  • Ability to understand technical drawings and plans
  • Advanced math and computer skills
  • Creativity and artistic ability
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • Engineering skills
  • High attention to detail
  • Structural and architectural design
  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering or related field

Typical work environment

Most VDC engineers work both in offices as well as in the field. In the office, you will be at a computer, on a phone, or emailing clients which involves repetitive wrist motions.  When lending onsite support to architects and clients, you will likely be in and around large industrial equipment and will need to be able to use the proper protective equipment for safety. This job includes lifting, standing, bending, and reaching. Typically, VDC engineers work from 9 AM to 5 PM, but they may work overtime.

Typical hours

VDC engineers typically work regular hours, from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, though they sometimes might need to log more than 40 hours a week. They also may visit construction sites to collaborate with architects or clients.

Available certifications

A certification in your field can help to increase your chances of getting a job. Here are some that can help: 

  • VDC Certificate Program. This program, available through Viateknik at Stanford’s Center for Professional Development, is for anyone interested in improving their knowledge of virtual design and construction. You learn through case studies, working on actual projects, and you have access to the online course-ware for one year. If you sign up for this program, you can expect pre-program coursework, a three-day workshop, and a two-day Stanford experience.

Career path

The first step to becoming a VDC engineer is to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. Students then should receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, preferably in an engineering discipline. Some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree, although this is not required. Associated General Contractors of America offers certification in BIM modeling, which will expand your career opportunities. Autodesk offers certification in Revit.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-3022

2020 Employment68,800
Projected Employment in 203070,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 2% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift1,200 increase

Population growth means that construction-related jobs will continue to be in demand. Maintenance, improvements, and construction of roads and bridges also will create more job opportunities. The emphasis on environmentally friendly development and energy efficiency should give the industry a boost as well.

Job prospects in the construction industry tend to ebb and flow with the economy. The Construction Management Association of America offers career coaching, a learning center, and job listings for candidates.