How to Become a Structural Engineer

Structural Engineer

A structural engineer works in the construction of large buildings and structures. They use their knowledge of materials and engineering to ensure that buildings are constructed safely and efficiently.

Structural engineers combine their knowledge of engineering and construction to assess the safety and efficiency of various buildings and structures. They help with designing structures, setting budgets and managing contracts. 

The main duties of a structural engineer are:  

  • Creating plans for particular engineering structures
  • Researching and advising on materials 
  • Calculating the loads and stresses of a specific building
  • Predicting how different structures will react to weather conditions using computer technology
  • Improving energy efficiency through building construction
  • Inspecting buildings that have been considered unsafe and deciding whether they can be repaired or if they should be demolished. 
  • Supervising projects
  • Investigating building damage and destruction

To become a building engineer, candidates generally have a degree in structural engineering. Alternatively, they could take a higher level diploma, which will give them the same level of qualification, or an apprentice degree, which is a degree with work placements.

They could also enter the field as a civil or construction engineering technician, where they can study while working. 

Many engineering degree courses offer a year in industry, which is hugely beneficial for building engineers. Gaining relevant work experience is essential to help them learn vocationally and assess whether the career is right for them. Work shadowing and internship placements may also be possible in this career. 

As structural engineers expertise in the safe construction of buildings, they should have a keen attention to detail. Maths skills are also necessary for this vocation; they will often need to work with numbers when analysing floor plans. 

Being able to communicate with other professionals is essential. Building engineers will need to work with architects, builders, and other professionals in the industry to share their findings. 

Essential hard skills are a high degree of computer literacy and maths and physics competency. Secondary qualifications in these subjects may highlight these skills. They should also be proficient at making and understanding diagrams. 

The structural engineer salary is generous and increases with experience. 

What degree is most commonly held by a Structural Engineer ?

  • Bachelor of Civil Engineering
  • Bachelor of Structural Engineering
  • Masters Degree in Civil Engineering
  • Bachelor of Applied Science and Architectural Engineering

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: High
Structural engineers, like other types of engineers, have plenty of opportunities for working abroad. They may be posted in a particular country or city permanently to work on a range of structures there. Alternatively, they could be temporarily moved around to wherever there is a demand for structural engineers. Candidates wanting to work abroad should be flexible with locations, as demand will vary in different parts of the world.

What is the Salary of a Structural Engineer ?

Experience Average salary | year
Structural Engineer 1-3 yrs $40,000 £36,098 $31,500
Structural Engineer (Senior) 3-5 yrs $57,978 £42,500 $59,628
Managing Engineer 5-10 yrs $85,089 £50,000 $97,069

What skills are needed to become a Structural Engineer ?

  • AutoCAD
  • Structural Engineering
  • Structural Analysis
  • Civil Engineering
  • Microsoft Office
  • Engineering
  • Steel Structures
  • Concrete
  • Construction
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Reinforced Concrete
  • Steel Design
  • Project Management
  • SAP2000
  • Matlab
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Microsoft Word
  • Revit
  • Etabs
  • Foundation Design
  • Construction Management
  • Teamwork
  • Steel
  • Research
  • Geotechnical Engineering

Structural Engineer Courses

Supplementary courses are an excellent way to gain the relevant knowledge to become a structural engineer, and candidates are recommended to take appropriate courses to gain a thorough education on the topic. Our engineering courses on FutureLearn cover many aspects of this type of engineering.
  • Quality in Construction

    Understand the impact of poor quality and how to manage construction quality with this course for construction professionals

  • Sustainable Construction and Development

    Gain valuable insight into sustainable construction and development and learn best practices from sustainability initiatives

  • Construction Ethics and Compliance

    Find out how to stay ethical compliant and professional in the construction industry with this free online course from the CIOB

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