army horizontal construction engineer - mos 12n

Army Horizontal Construction Engineer (MOS 12N)

Horizontal Construction Engineers (MOS 12N) are the “grunts” of the U.S. Army.

An Army Horizontal Construction Engineer uses heavy equipment like bulldozers, graders, and cranes to move earth and material in order to complete construction projects for the U.S. Army.

As a result, MOS 12N are delegated with operating a variety of heavy equipment and need to know how the machinery functions as well as how to maintain the equipment.

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Education, Qualifications, Training, and Duty Stations

army horizontal construction engineer
MOS 12N handles a wide variety of heavy construction equipment. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Army Horizontal Construction Engineers (MOS 12N) are terrific heavy equipment operators.

The engineers utilize a variety of construction equipment, heavy vehicles, and other tools to complete construction projects for the U.S. Military.

In addition to building infrastructure behind the scenes, MOS 12N also partakes in combat engineer missions as well.

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In order to get started with the U.S. Army, you must have a high school diploma or GED.

If you are interested in joining the military, you can speak with a local Army recruiter.

He or she will provide all the information you need to get started.

The Army recruiter will inform you about the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

The ASVAB is a series of tests that help you and the Army better understand your strengths and identify a suitable military career.

If you are interested in MOS 12N, you need to have a minimum ASVAB score of General Maintenance (GM): 90.

The GM category tests for general science (GS), auto and shop (AS), electronics information (EI), and mathematics knowledge (MK).


After you pass the ASVAB with a score of at least 90, it is time to consider other qualifications for Army Horizontal Construction Engineer (MOS 12N).

There is no security clearance required to become MOS 12N.

The Army wants individuals that can pass a “moderate” strength requirement test. 

Additionally, you’ll need to have the ability to discern between the colors red and green.

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Other things to consider are a preference for working outdoors, performing blue-collar work (aka “working with your hands”), and interest in operating heavy equipment.

You may also deal with heights so not having a fear of them is helpful, but not mandatory.


New Army recruits that are interested in Horizontal Construction Engineer MOS 12N will report at one of the following four bases:

  • Fort Leonard Wood (St. Robert, Missouri)
  • Fort Moore (Columbus, Georgia)
  • Fort Jackson (Columbia, South Carolina)
  • Fort Sill (Lawton, Oklahoma)

The most common place to report for engineers is Fort Leonard Wood.

Job training for MOS 12N requires 10 weeks of basic combat training (BCT) like all new Army recruits, followed by nine weeks of advanced individual training.

Army Horizontal Construction Engineers spend part of their time in the classroom while also receiving a ton of on-the-job experience.

Your field training will include:

  • Learning how to operate a variety of different heavy machinery and rough terrain equipment.
  • Discovering how to maintain and repair heavy equipment.
  • Learning about different soil types and how to move earth the best. Also the placement of grade stakes.

Duty Stations

Those serving in the Army in MOS 12N can expect to be potentially based at one of the following duty stations:

Inside the Continental US (CONUS)
  • Fort Belvoir, VA
  • Fort Bliss, TX
  • Fort Campbell, KY
  • Fort Carson, CO
  • Fort Cavazos, TX
  • Fort Drum, NY
  • Fort Eustis, VA
  • Fort Hunter Liggett, CA
  • Fort Irwin, CA
  • Fort Johnson, LA
  • Fort Knox, KY
  • Fort Leavenworth, KS
  • Fort Liberty, NC
  • Fort Moore, GA
  • Fort Riley, KS
  • Fort Stewart, GA
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
  • Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, VA
  • Yakima Training Center, WA
Outside the Continental US (OCONUS)
  • Fort Wainwright, AK
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK
  • Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
  • USAG Ansbach, Germany
  • USAG Bavaria, Germany
  • USAG Daegu, South Korea
  • USAG Hawaii
  • USAG Humphreys, South Korea
  • USAG Italy, Vicenza
  • USAG Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
  • USAG Yongsan-Casey, South Korea

What does an Army Horizontal Construction Engineer Do?

12n mos army
Army Horizontal Construction Engineers may see action during combat engineer missions. Image: Wikipedia

An Army Horizontal Construction Engineer MOS 12N is a heavy equipment operator and the backbone of the U.S. Army.

An MOS 12N handles everything from backhoes to excavators, graders, and scrapers.

Horizontal Construction Engineers also learn how to operate tractors, some of which have dozens of attachments for scoops, dozers, etc.

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Heavy Equipment Operators

The first responsibility and primary duty of an Army Horizontal Construction Engineer (MOS 12N) is simply to move earth.

Heavy equipment operators handle countless types of machines. These include machinery like excavators, backhoes, bulldozers, graders, loaders, trenchers, and scrapers.

The job is to clear, grub, strip, excavate, backfill, stockpile, or push-scrape soil with the most appropriate type of machinery for the task at hand.

There is also a need to level earth for other construction projects.

The more knowledge you have of heavy equipment and the more types of machinery you can operate, the better.

Army Construction Projects

The U.S. Army is no different from any organization in that it needs things constructed, sometimes on tight deadlines.

Army Horizontal Construction Engineers work with other team members to see that projects are completed on time, and correctly.

There is a need to analyze the information on grade stakes and also know how to place them.

Depending on your military rank, you may also lead certain construction projects.

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Equipment Maintenance

Heavy construction equipment is readily abused.

As a result, operators are also usually good mechanics and know how to perform routine maintenance on the machines they use.

There is also the need to transport heavy construction equipment with tractor-trailers from site to site.

Combat Engineer Missions

Army Horizontal Construction Engineers are sometimes delegated to combat engineer missions.

It is possible to get caught in the middle of action while building fighting positions, fortifications, or roads.

The role is extremely important, as combat forces depend on safe roads to travel so MOS 12N can make the process much easier for soldiers. ​

horizontal engineer army
Army Horizontal Construction Engineers can find immediate job openings in the construction field after leaving the military. Image: The National Guard

The U.S. Army pays similarly regardless of Military Occupation Specialty (MOS).

Pay is more determined based on Army rank and years of service (see table, below).

However, you can earn extra cash (up to $40,000) for getting assigned to specific jobs that are in demand.

You can learn more by speaking with a local Army recruiter.

InsigniaPay GradeRankAbbreviationMinimum Monthly Pay
E-1 +4 monthsPrivatePVT$1,917.60
E-2Private Second ClassPV2$2,149.20
army e 3 insignia - pfcE-3Private First ClassPFC$2,259.90
army e 4 insignia - specialistE-4SpecialistSPC$2,503.50
army e 4 insignia - corporalE-4CorporalCPL$2,503.50
e-6E-6Staff SergeantSSG$2,980.50
E-7Sergeant First Class SFC$3,445.80
army master sergeant iconE-8Master SergeantMSG$4,957.20
E-8First Sergeant 1SG$4,957.20
E-9Sergeant MajorSGM$6,055.50
E-9Command Sergeant MajorCSM$6,055.50
e 9 sergeant major of the army insigniaE-9Sergeant Major of the ArmySMA$6,055.50


The U.S. Army offers some nice incentives in addition to your monthly base pay:

  • Medical Insurance
  • PTO (Vacation Time)
  • Special Pay
  • Retirement
  • Housing: Allowances for living expenses, utilities, and maintenance.
  • Food: Allowance for the on-base dining hall and access to tax-free department and grocery stores.
  • Education: Army members can earn full tuition, merit-based scholarships, allowances for books and fees, plus an annual stipend for living expenses.

Job Reviews

The reviews for Army Horizontal Construction Engineer are mostly positive on and

Positive reviews have a tendency to cite how much the Army teaches a variety of skills and character traits, great for leadership and discipline.

One common complaint is that the Army Horizontal Construction Engineer – like a lot of military jobs – is very physically demanding with long hours.

At the end of the day, most MOS 12N agree that you can’t beat the experience and opportunities provided by the U.S. Army.

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Civilian Job Opportunities

Most service members that become MOS 12N move on to work in the construction field after retiring from the U.S. Army.

Since you already are trained to operate a variety of heavy equipment, there are plenty of equipment operator positions available throughout the country.

Furthermore, your leadership skills and working under high-stress situations could lead to management positions.

Some choose to work outside the construction field for rock quarries or state highway agencies.

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An Army Horizontal Construction Engineer (MOS 12N) is important to the daily operations of the U.S. Army.

The position literally allows you to pave the way for your fellow soldiers.



Zach B.
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