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VDC Engineer Career Guide

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 necessary skills for VDC engineers to ensure plans and computer modelings are correct. VDC engineers must have expertise 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 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 well under pressure to meet tight deadlines. You will need to be someone with 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

  • High school diploma or equivalent required
  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited program preferred, ideally in an engineering or construction-related field
  • Master’s degree and certifications preferred

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

Typical work environment

Most VDC engineers work both in the office as well as in the field. In the office, they will be at a computer, on a phone, or emailing clients. When lending onsite support to architects and clients, VDC engineers will likely be in and around large industrial equipment and must use the proper protective equipment for safety. This job includes lifting, standing, bending, and reaching.

Typical hours

VDC engineers typically work regular hours, from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Sometimes they may work overtime, logging more than 40 hours a week. They will spend their day in the office or visiting construction sites to collaborate with architects and clients.

Available certifications

A certification in your field can help increase your chances of getting a job. Here is an option for VDC engineers:

  • VDC Certificate Program – Available through Viateknik at Stanford’s Center for Professional Development, this program is great for anyone interested in improving their knowledge of virtual design and construction. With access to the online courseware for one year, you will be able to learn from case studies as well as real-life experiences. If you sign up for this program, you can expect pre-program coursework, a 3-day workshop, and a 2-day Stanford experience.

Career path

The first step to becoming a VDC engineer is to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. Students then will typically 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. Additionally, receiving certifications in processes such as BIM modeling and Revit will help expand your career opportunities as a VDC engineer.

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

Job prospects in the construction industry tend to ebb and flow with the economy. But as our population continues to grow, construction-related jobs will remain in demand. Maintenance, improvements, and construction of roads and bridges will also create more job opportunities. The emphasis on environment-friendly development and energy efficiency should help the growth of this industry as well.

Those interested in becoming a VDC engineer can use resources like The Construction Management Association of America, where they will find career coaching, a learning center, and job listings for this role.