Careers App
Construction Engineer


United States Department of State
An Equal Opportunity Employer
How to Apply

Announcement No: CON-2015-0002
Position Title: Construction Engineer
Open Period: 04/01/2015 - 04/29/2015
Series/Grade: FP-0801-04
Salary: $54,069 - $79,402
Promotion Potential: Senior Foreign Service
Duty Locations: MANY vacancies Throughout the World
For more information, Contact: HR/REE, 202-203-5160

Who May Apply

All potential applicants are strongly urged to read this entire Vacancy Announcement to ensure that they meet all of the requirements for this position before applying.

Applicants must be United States citizens and at least 20 years old to apply. They must be at least 21 years of age to be appointed. By law, all career candidates must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60.

Applicants are not eligible to reapply until one year after the application date of prior announcements.

No applicant will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service under sections 607 (Retirement for Expiration of Time-in-Class), 608 (Retirement Based on Relative Performance), 610 (Separation for Cause), or 612 (Termination of Limited Appointment) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu of separation under these provisions. In addition, no candidate will be considered who has previously been separated from the Foreign Service for failure to receive a career appointment under Section 306 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980, as amended, or who resigned or retired in lieu thereof. Specialists separated pursuant to these provisions may not re-apply to be a Foreign Service specialist in the same skill code, but may apply for another skill code (or to be a Foreign Service generalist).

Duration of Appointment

Permanent after being tenured in the Foreign Service by the Tenure Boards.

Marketing Statement

The Department of State is developing a rank-order list of eligible hires to fill a limited number of Foreign Service Construction Engineer vacancies. The specific number to be hired will depend on the needs of the Foreign Service.

Grade and Starting Salary Range: FP-04, $54,069 - $79,402 (Basic salary only)


The U.S. Department of State is the lead foreign affairs agency formulating and implementing the President’s foreign policy and representing the interests of the United States throughout the world. The Department carries out this mission at over 270 embassies and consulates around the world, offices in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area and other locations in the United States.

The Foreign Service is more than a job – it’s a career. As a member of a diplomatic team, you will not only help to accomplish the mission of the Department of State, but also will be a representative of your country to the people of other nations. A Foreign Service career involves uncommon commitments and occasional hardships, as well as unique rewards and opportunities. A decision to enter this career should be based on extraordinary motivation and a firm dedication to public service.

A Foreign Service Construction Engineer (FSCE) is an engineer or architect, in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations working specifically in the Office of Construction Management, responsible for managing Department of State construction projects overseas. The FSCE is a member of a U.S. Government team that ensures construction is professionally performed according to applicable plans, specifications, schedules, and standards. The FSCE must adhere to the highest standards of integrity, dependability, attention to detail, teamwork and cooperation while accepting the need to travel, to live overseas, and when necessary, to live away from family.

Many overseas posts are in countries where harsh climates, health hazards, and other discomforts are prevalent and where American-style amenities frequently are unavailable. Personal security frequently becomes an area of concern, particularly in countries where there is political unrest or terrorist activity. For this reason, family members are not permitted to accompany the FSCEs on assignments to a number of overseas posts. However, careers in the Foreign Service offer special rewards, including the pride and satisfaction of representing the United States and advancing U.S. interests abroad.

The Foreign Service strives for diversity to show the best face of America abroad. Diversity is one of America's greatest strengths. In representing the United States to the world, the Foreign Service aims to reflect and respect our rich heritage and varied backgrounds in its workforce.

Key Requirements

All applicants, in order to be considered for selection, must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Be at least 20 years old to apply and at least 21 years of age to be appointed. By law (Foreign Service Act of 1980), all career candidates (except for preference-eligible veterans)** must be appointed to the Foreign Service prior to the month in which they reach age 60.
  • Be available for worldwide service.
  • Be able to obtain a Top Secret Security Clearance.
  • Be able to obtain an appropriate medical clearance for Foreign Service work.
  • Obtain a Suitability Clearance, based on a review of the candidate's record for conduct in accordance with suitability standards defined in Chapter 3 of the Foreign Affairs Manual. For more details see or

NOTE: Individuals who have been found unsuitable for employment by a Department of State Final Review Panel for Suitability within the previous two years are ineligible to apply (unless the individual was a candidate for a Special Agent position with the Diplomatic Security Service and the decision to deny eligibility was based on the candidate’s inability to fulfill the unique duties of that position and not based on suitability standards).

For more details see or

Major Duties

Learn more about this career.

The following are typical duties, performed at various grade levels, in the course of a career as a Foreign Service Construction Engineer.

In Overseas Assignments:

  1. Performs quality assurance tasks, including approving quality programs, hiring and managing quality assurance staff, ensuring contractor’s work is properly inspected, selecting laboratories for testing, ensuring corrective actions take place, ensuring trades are certified, ensuring materials meet contract specifications, accepting contractor submittals, and resolving conflicts.
  2. Performs financial control tasks, including approving progress payment requests, preparing estimates, evaluating changes in costs, evaluating contractors’ claims, establishing procedures for petty cash, controlling costs, and monitoring schedule.
  3. Performs safety tasks, including approving project safety programs, monitoring safety, ensuring safety training and equipment, and ensuring health requirements.
  4. Performs security tasks, including approving project security programs, managing security staff, monitoring security, ensuring document security, and coordinating final inspections.
  5. Performs preconstruction tasks, including performing design reviews and constructability reviews.
  6. Performs administration tasks, including managing the site office, approving budgets, preparing inventories, hiring and managing local employees, preparing reports and files, liaising with local officials and utilities, performing contracting officer duties, ensuring proper inventory control, and performing other site obligations (e.g., tours).
  7. Performs commissioning tasks, including coordinating close outs, commissioning of systems, managing the commissioning agent, providing warranty support, ensuring commissioning training, and participating in relocation.

In Domestic Assignments:

  1. Performs project support tasks, including prequalifying bidders, evaluating bids, participating in the design of new facilities, providing guidance to contractors, coordinating construction projects, coordinating procurement, traveling to project sites, making recommendations to contracting officers, organizing meetings, preparing progress information, providing supervision, and participating in planning.
  2. Performs administrative support tasks, including developing special contract provisions, participating in policy/procedure development, and participating in training.

Some of the essential functions of the job have a physically demanding component. In the execution of the duties and tasks listed above, Construction Engineers may frequently be required to:

  • Work in confined areas such as crawlspaces, attics, utility pits, tunnels, manholes, and other confined spaces.
  • Work from heights such as rooftops, ledges, and scaffolding, including climbing extension ladders and scaffolding.
  • Follow established safety regulations related to construction and renovation practices and regulations.

A Construction Engineer is also periodically required to perform work that requires regular and recurring periods of prolonged standing, bending, and stretching. Additionally, Construction Engineers may supervise contractors and tradesmen that work with building equipment, heavy machinery and construction vehicles. All of these tasks are at times performed at construction sites with ambient noise and other environmental factors that are typical for such sites.


Education Requirements:

  1. Applicants must hold:

    a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in:

    • Civil/Structural Engineering
    • Electrical Engineering
    • Mechanical Engineering

    OR, a Master of Architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Accreditation Board,

    OR, a Bachelor of Architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) Accreditation Board.

  2. Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet Federal job requirements for this position if the applicant can show that foreign education is comparable to education received in the United States from an ABET or NAAB accredited institution. It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide such evidence when applying for Federal jobs. Degrees received from non-U.S. colleges or universities will be considered acceptable based on any of the following evidences:
    1. Engineering Degrees: The degree program is accredited by ABET.
    2. Architecture Degrees: The degree program is substantially equivalent to NAAB-accredited programs (, is a participant in the Canberra Accord (, or an NAAB-accredited Canadian program ( Other foreign architectural degrees may be evaluated by Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA-NCARB) (
    3. The candidate presents evidence of registration as a professional engineer or architect by any state in the U.S.

**Please note that credential evaluation reports or other bodies not aforementioned do not fulfill the above requirements.

***Please further note that only the above degree types will satisfy the education requirements of this position.


LevelAnnual SalaryEducation Requirement Specialized Experience
FP-04 $54,069-$79,402 Bachelor’s Degree 5 years
    Master’s Degree 4 years
  • One within grade pay step may be given for a relevant Master’s degree. If you need the Master’s degree to qualify as above, you will not be eligible for the one step within grade increase.
  • You must provide the transcripts for all degrees with your application.



You must have 5 years of experience working in the field on major VERTICAL CONSTRUCTION projects to be considered for this position. Qualifying experience must have been acquired in the last eight years.


A master's degree in a construction-related discipline may be substituted for one (1) year of specialized experience toward satisfying the five-year minimum requirement for specialized experience.


Specialized experience should show that applicants have an in-depth knowledge of their field and can be expected to perform engineering or architectural duties related to construction at Department of State projects worldwide. Specialized experience must have been obtained through assignments to field sites on vertical construction projects. Vertical construction projects include but are not limited to multi-story buildings, large-scale residential and commercial developments, and warehouses.

Applicants should show that their job-related experience has been at progressively increasing levels of performance and responsibility through such indicators as promotions, raises, and increases in scope, authority, impact, etc.

Specialized experience requirements will be judged based on the past performance of activities such as:

  1. Reviewing, interpreting, and checking construction drawings, architectural plans, engineering drawings, and other specifications to ensure compliance, recognize errors, ambiguities, or omissions and provide corrective recommendations.
  2. Inspecting construction techniques, procedures, standards, and materials to ensure construction is performed in accordance with applicable plans and specifications.
  3. Applying quality control and quality assurance practices and procedures to construction projects, and applying test procedures and equipment.
  4. Applying safety practices and procedures to construction projects.
  5. Developing and applying construction scheduling techniques, monitoring project progress, identifying causes for delays, and developing and taking corrective action.
  6. Managing financial elements of a construction project, such as monitoring construction project costs, reviewing and certifying contractor requests for progress payments, forecasting total construction costs, and managing budgets.
  7. Analyzing and negotiating pending contract change orders, potential or actual claims, and acceptable cost and time settlements.
  8. Applying computer software to construction project management and fiscal control.
  9. Recognizing impending problems, developing options for action, and recommending solutions.
  10. Preparing and delivering presentations and reports on project status and recommendations.
  11. Demonstrating effective verbal and written communications skills with technical and non-technical personnel.
  12. Displaying effective leadership, team building and consensus building skills with colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates.


  1. Ability to think logically and objectively, demonstrating resourcefulness and judgment.
  2. Ability to express oneself both orally and in writing.
  3. Ability to work and deal effectively with others; tact and the ability to obtain cooperation and confidence from supervisors and subordinates in performing official duties.
  4. Ability to work with minimum job supervision and a willingness to accept responsibility.
  5. Ability to read in detail, and make decisions based on, plans and architectural diagrams.
  6. Ability to work from heights such as rooftops, ledges, scaffolding, including climbing extension ladders and scaffolding.
  7. Ability to work in confined areas such as crawlspaces, attics, utility pits, tunnels, manholes, and other confined spaces.
  8. Ability to see (with corrective lenses, if needed), with at least an average level of depth perception, objects that are near, far, in color, and in dim lighting. Ability to hear (with hearing aids, if needed) above the ambient noise of a typical construction site. Ability to speak clearly enough so others will understand you in an environment with a high level of ambient noise. Ability to climb ladders and scaffolding without difficulty.


Superior oral and written communication skills: In order to pass the thorough and competitive Foreign Service assessment process, successful applicants must consistently meet a high standard for English, both written (overall structure as well as grammar, spelling and punctuation) and spoken (overall structure as well as delivery, clarity and succinctness). Those who fall short of this standard will have little chance of passing through the Foreign Service’s highly competitive assessment process.

Professional-level speaking ability in a foreign language is welcome, but not a requirement for applying. However, the applicant must be willing to be trained by the Department of State in a foreign language to meet a job requirement or expectation. These will be important considerations in the competitive promotion process.

In addition to the general requirements for employment in the Foreign Service, all Construction Engineer candidates must have at least a Bachelor's degree at the time of appointment, as indicated above.


How Candidates Will Be Evaluated:

Candidates will be evaluated on their total background including experience, education, awards, training, and self-development as it relates to the position. Part-time work experience will be prorated. Candidates will be evaluated initially through a file review; those who are successful will have a personal interview, a writing exercise and an online subject matter test. Those who are successful in the selection process and obtain their medical, security and suitability clearances are put on a rank order register. Candidates can improve their standing on the register by obtaining additional points for qualifying military service and/or proven language ability as determined by the Foreign Service Institute. More information on these two points, as well as on the clearance process, is available on our website, Selection for this position will be made only from among candidates possessing the best qualifications.

How to Apply

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To apply, applicants must first register on USAJOBS and create an online federal resume. Your online resume must be typed or you may cut and paste an existing resume into the space provided. Once you have completed the registration process, select the "Apply Online" button to the right of the vacancy. This button will transfer you to Gateway to State. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is April 29, 2015.

Follow the "Apply Online" instructions at Gateway to State by answering self-assessment questions for the specific job to which you are applying. When completed, the information you provided at USAJOBS and the answers to the Gateway to State questions will become your application. Your registration, resume, and responses to questions will be used to evaluate your qualifications for this job. In addition, you may need to fax or upload some information to complete your application package.

Please note: Your application is automatically saved as you proceed through it. You may interrupt your application process and return to it until you submit it.

You have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on the closing date of this announcement to complete the application process and supply the required documentation outlined in this vacancy announcement. Application packages MUST be complete and received by the closing date to receive consideration.

Due to the volume of applications, fax lines can become jammed and documents may not successfully attach to your application on the final days/hours of the application announcement. IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CANDIDATE TO VERIFY THAT REQUIRED DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY ATTACHED TO THE APPLICATION PRIOR TO THE CLOSING DATE. Applicants can do so by going back into your application and verifying that documents have been attached. Applications received without required documents will be deemed ineligible. You are encouraged to submit your application early, and to go back into your application to confirm that your documents have been attached.

If you are having technical difficulty with the application process, please contact the helpdesk by calling 1-866-656-6830 or by emailing

Required Documents

As part of the online application, applicants will be asked to submit the following required documents:

  1. Supplementary Questionnaire and Autobiography:

    Purpose: The Supplementary Questionnaire provides an opportunity to describe examples of your experience and accomplishments from your education, life and work experience that show you have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other requirements (KSAOs) listed in the vacancy announcement for the position of Construction Engineer.

    Instructions: During the application process, you will be asked to individually address each of the numbered items listed below, limiting responses to 2,000 characters or less for each item. Examples can be drawn from any part of your personal experience. You should compose your replies carefully, as one of the skills necessary to succeed as a Foreign Service Construction Engineer is the ability to write clearly and concisely.

    1. Knowledge of Construction: Describe your education and work experience that demonstrates you have the various knowledge areas required of a construction engineer.
    2. Skill in Administering Contracts: Describe examples of past accomplishments that demonstrate your skill in planning and organizing, leadership, customer service, and other skills needed to administer contracts.
    3. Problem Solving: Give examples demonstrating your ability to think logically and objectively, to analyze problems, and to apply sound judgment in assessing practical implications of alternative solutions.
    4. Communication Skills: Give examples displaying your ability to communicate effectively and persuasively both orally and in writing.
    5. Computer Skills: Describe specific instances which show how you used computer software and other technologies to manage construction-related projects.
    6. Citing specific examples from your background and experience, summarize your professional knowledge, skills and abilities which would apply to a career as a Foreign Service Construction Engineer.

      A Narrative Autobiography (two-to-three page typed equivalent – no more than 5,000 characters) which discusses your:

      • personal background,
      • general comments on your work experience,
      • personal interests, hobbies, and travel,
      • ability to add value to the Foreign Service, and
      • motivation for joining the Foreign Service.

      The narrative autobiography is included inside the online application.

  2. Fax or Upload College Transcripts:
    • College Transcript(s)

    All applicants must submit their college transcripts. Please note that a degree or diploma certificate does not satisfy this requirement. We must see the actual transcript. Both official and unofficial transcripts are acceptable as part of the application process. Therefore, it is essential that your transcript include your name, the school’s name, the degree and date awarded. Any transcript missing any of the key elements above will not pass the minimum qualifications and the candidacy will be ended.

  3. If you are 59-1/2 years of age or over and claiming a 5 point veteran's preference, you must submit a copy of your DD-214 with your application.

    If you are claiming a 10 point veteran’s preference, in addition to the DD-214, you must submit your VA letter and approved SF-15 with your application. (This is required if you are preference eligible.)

  4. If prior military service, include all copies of your DD Forms 214 (required).

    Applicants claiming preference based on service-connected disability, or based on being the spouse or mother of a disabled or deceased Veteran, must also complete and submit an SF 15, Application for 10-Point Veteran Preference (available at

  5. Copies of Certificates, Diplomas and proof of relevant training, if applicable.

    Applicants have the option to upload or fax their transcripts. To submit the transcripts by fax, applicants will be prompted to print out a fax coversheet once they have successfully submitted their application. Instructions for submitting these forms are included in the online application. The transcript must be faxed or uploaded before the closing date of this announcement, which is 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time.

    Important: Whether you upload or fax, please submit all your documents at the same time. If you must send any additional documents after your first submission, be sure to include your first group of documents along with the additional documents. This is because subsequent submissions erase prior submissions.

    For additional information please refer to our website at

    Once you have completed the online questionnaire, you will be prompted to decide either to upload your documents or to print out cover sheets generated within the application that must be used to fax the above required documents.

    If faxing, it is extremely important that only these system-generated cover sheets, and the phone number included on them, be used for faxing these documents. The cover sheets are coded to insure that your documents are automatically attached to your online application.

    These documents must be either faxed or uploaded before the closing date of this announcement, which is 11:59pm Washington D.C. time.

What to Expect Next

The Department of State will be hiring a limited number of candidates. Please note that the average processing time for an application is 7-9 months, including the completion of the medical, security, and suitability clearances.

Once an applicant completes and submits an application, the status will appear as “referred” by USAJobs and your application is forwarded to the U.S. Department of State. Shortly after the vacancy announcement’s closing date, all “referred” applicants will be notified via e-mail from the U.S. Department of State of the status of their applications. Please note that the “referred” status on USAJobs will not be updated at any time throughout the entire evaluation process. It is common for several months to pass before the evaluation panels complete a full review of an applicant’s file. Due to the high volume of Foreign Service Specialist applicants and the thorough evaluation process, we ask all applicants to remain patient and await communication. We recommend adding the U.S. Department of State email domain ( as an approved sender. Selected candidates will be notified of an oral assessment date and time at the Department of State, in Washington, D.C. Any potential scheduling conflicts can be handled at that time.

Selected candidates: Please note all travel and other expenses incurred in connection with the oral assessment are the responsibility of the candidate.


Health and medical coverage, federal retirement benefits, generous paid leave, and an unprecedented chance to see the world and experience different cultures. Overseas benefits include paid housing or a housing allowance and paid education for dependent children between K-12.

Additional Benefits: Tax free housing overseas, tax free educational allowance, etc. (See Compensation and Benefits on our website at, for more information.)

Any Foreign Service Specialist hired after October 1, 2013, who demonstrates FSI-tested Arabic language ability, will receive a one-time recruitment bonus.

Other Information

Initial Salary, Salary Increases and Tenure:

Initial salaries for new employees are set within the FP-04 pay scale depending on education, specialized experience and salary history. Salaries are determined at the time the offer of employment is made.

Entry level salary for federal Civil Service candidates appointed without a break in service is set at the rate in the FP-04 Foreign Service salary schedule nearest to the base salary rate of their previous GS salary, provided the work performed in the previous position is related to Construction Engineering activities.

In general, persons with satisfactory performance ratings receive a within-grade salary increase annually through step 10 and biennially through step 14 if they have not received an equivalent increase during that period.

Foreign Service Specialist Career Candidates are considered for tenure by a Tenuring Board after a minimum of two years’ experience in the Foreign Service.

Initial Career Development Assignments:

Upon entry into the Foreign Service and after completion of orientation and familiarization training, a Construction Engineer will normally be assigned to an initial tour in Washington, D.C. during which temporary overseas duty assignments of two to six weeks are common. After the initial tour, assignments will be for periods of two to four years overseas or in the U.S. and will be based on the Department needs, career development requirements, and personal preferences.

Career Track Movement:

Promotions beyond FP-04 are based on annual performance evaluations in competition with other Construction Engineers at the same grade level.

Available promotions are awarded to those who have best demonstrated the ability and potential to perform at a higher level of responsibility.

Assignment opportunities for Construction Engineers range from grade FP-04 entry level positions up to Senior Foreign Service. Entry-level positions provide technical, logistic, and administrative support to overseas construction projects while the Senior Foreign Service is responsible for overall senior level management of major construction projects overseas and programs in Washington.

Executive Branch agencies are barred by 5 US Code 3303 as amended from accepting or considering prohibited political recommendations and are required to return any prohibited political recommendations to sender. In addition, as mandated by 5 US Code 3110, relatives of federal employees cannot be granted preference in competing for these employment opportunities.

It is the policy of the Federal Government to treat all of its employees with dignity and respect and to provide a workplace that is free from discrimination whether that discrimination is based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity or pregnancy), national origin, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, age, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors.

The Department of State provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodations for any part of the application or hiring process should so advise the Department at within one week of receiving their invitation. Decisions for granting reasonable accommodations are made on a case-by-case basis.

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