How to Get a Job in the Army Corps of Engineers

At a college job fair, a student discusses job opportunities with civil engineer Roger Henderson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
At a college job fair, a student discusses job opportunities with civil engineer Roger Henderson of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Hunter Merritt/U.S. Army

Care of our public structures and our environment, plus being mindful of their impact on each other, is a big job. Fortunately, we have a big organization trained and tasked with the challenge. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), with its 37,000 civilians and more than 550 soldiers, provides engineering and environmental science solutions to the United States and more than 90 other countries.

According to USACE, the Corps manages four program areas: civil works, military construction, real estate, and research and development. The group is charged with our coastal and water resources engineering, flood control, navigation and disaster response, for example. Are you interested in working with them? To manage its wide range of programs, the Corps recruits a variety of environmental science professionals, such as archaeologists, hydrologists, biologists and geologists.

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While the paycheck comes from USACE, you don't have to be enlisted to work with them. Many positions in the organization are civilian positions, and the Corps offers excellent benefits, competitive salaries and a wide variety of challenging jobs and opportunities for advancement.

There are two ways to apply for jobs with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. One is to use the Civilian Personnel Online (CPOL) Web site, where you can build and edit your resume, then search available jobs. When you find a desirable position, click on the "self-nominate" button.

The other way to apply for a job with USACE is to use the federal agency job Web site, called USAJOBS. Like the CPOL Web site, you must have a current resume in the USAJOBS database before you can apply for a position. After you create your resume in the USAJOBS system, select the "apply online" button at the bottom of the job description.

Next, let's look at some of the different types of jobs in the Army Corps of Engineers.

Types of Jobs in the Army Corps of Engineers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses a wide variety of professionals, from accountants to lawyers and carpenters to archaeologists. In fact, a review of the USAJOBS Web site shows around 120 different job titles.

A sample of the engineering-specific jobs as listed by USACE includes civil, mechanical, environmental, chemical, structural, project and electrical engineers; engineering technicians; construction control reps; architects; survey technicians; realty specialists; lock and dam operators; and contract specialists.

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If you're not into manual labor, there are plenty of desk jobs, but one aspect of working with USACE that appeals to many is the ability to work outdoors. In a recruiting video on the Web site, various employees talk about why they love their jobs. Some of those reasons include the following:

  • Working outdoors in the fresh air, surrounded by nature
  • Driving a boat to patrol water, or bicycling to patrol a park
  • Teaching kids how to be environmentally responsible, or teaching them fun skills such as building bluebird boxes
  • Having a different mission every day
  • Spelunking and rock climbing
  • Working with our natural resources
  • Hiking or creating and maintaining trails
  • Cleaning up debris and helping people after a disaster
  • Keeping power generators going
  • Maintaining river elevations for barges to get through

With benefits that often combine work with play, it's no wonder that civilians and enlisted workers alike report being happy in their work. Next, we'll look at a few tips for getting a job with USACE.

Tips for Getting a Job in the Army Corps of Engineers

Bill Doan, a project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, speaks to a group of soldiers who are interning with the organization for six months.
Bill Doan, a project manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, speaks to a group of soldiers who are interning with the organization for six months.
Joe Marek, AED-North/U.S. Army

If you've already created a resume online, then you may want to review it to be sure it's search engine optimized. As in any database, matching up your skills with the right job relies on keywords. If you're looking for a job in chemical engineering, for example, be sure that chemical engineer appears often in your resume, and include profession-specific keywords that you think USACE will be interested in.

Another way to get noticed is to go to the dozens of career and recruitment fairs held each year across the country. Check the USACE Web site for information on when one might be taking place near you.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may also offer special hiring initiatives. If you're a student interested in working with USACE in the future, or even if you're just looking for a fulfilling temporary job, you may be eligible for some of these potential opportunities:

  • Federal Career Intern Program. Students accepted into this program can work part time or full time with flexible hours, while earning benefits such as vacation and sick leave, as well as public transportation subsidies.
  • Internships. Interns that complete this program may be offered permanent positions.
  • The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). STEP provides part-time and full-time employment opportunities to students during the school year or summer.
  • The Student Career Experience Program (SCEP). SCEP provides cooperative education opportunities to students as they relate to their majors and could result in a permanent position.
  • The Student Educational Employment Program (SEEP). SEEP provides students with year-round employment with flexible work schedules and assignments.

Taking part in any of these programs is a great first step toward getting a permanent job with USACE, and they may also provide wonderful skills for any future endeavor.

For more great articles about the Army, check out the links on the next page.

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Sources

  • USAJOBS.com. "Search Jobs." (April 17, 2011) http://www.usajobs.com/
  • USAJOBS.com. "U.S. Army Corps of Engineers." (April 17, 2011) http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/a9arcoe.aspx
  • U.S. Army Civilian Personnel Online. "Top Army Civilian Initiatives." (April 17, 2011) http://www.cpol.army.mil/
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Career and Recruitment Fairs." (April 17, 2011) http://www.usace.army.mil/CEHR/WorkForUSACE/Pages/Career_and_Recruitment_ Fairs.aspx
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Careers Video." (April 17, 2011) http://corpslakes.usace.army.mil/employees/career/video/08NRMCareers.wmv
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Developmental Positions." (April 15, 2011) http://www.usace.army.mil/CEHR/WorkForUSACE/Pages/DevelopmentalPositions.aspx
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Mission & Vision." (April 17, 2011) http://www.usace.army.mil/about/Pages/Mission.aspx
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Special Hiring Initiatives." (April 15, 2011)http://www.usace.army.mil/CEHR/WorkForUSACE/Pages/SpecialHiringInitiatives.aspx