Career Development

What Does a Lead Structural Engineer Do?

Find out what a lead structural engineer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a lead structural engineer.

Lead structural engineers are responsible for overseeing the work of other structural engineers and ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget. They commonly provide leadership to a team of structural engineers, architects, contractors, and other professionals involved in the design and construction process.

Lead structural engineers must be able to effectively communicate with all members of their team. They may also need to interact with clients or other stakeholders who have an interest in the project they’re working on.

Lead Structural Engineer Job Duties

A lead structural engineer typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Developing construction plans for new projects based on engineering designs provided by architects and other designers
  • Reviewing structural designs from other engineers to ensure that they meet industry standards for safety and quality
  • Providing structural engineering services for new construction projects such as bridges, roads, dams, buildings, etc.
  • Evaluating existing structures for defects and recommending repair or reconstruction as needed
  • Providing technical support for engineering projects such as managing project budgets, scheduling, and procurement of materials
  • Conducting stress tests to determine whether structures can withstand loads without failing
  • Designing structures such as bridges, buildings, pipelines, electrical transmission towers, telephone towers, and railroads
  • Inspecting construction sites to ensure compliance with safety regulations such as proper use of scaffolding or safety nets
  • Preparing structural drawings and calculations using computer software such as AutoCAD or MATLAB

Lead Structural Engineer Salary & Outlook

Lead structural engineers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the size and type of company for which they work. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $95,000 ($45.67/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $152,000 ($73.08/hour)

The employment of lead structural engineers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for structural engineers will stem from the need to repair, maintain, and upgrade bridges, roads, and other infrastructure. In addition, demand for these workers will continue to come from the construction of large buildings, such as office towers and sports stadiums, which require structural engineering.

Lead Structural Engineer Job Requirements

A lead structural engineer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: A bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement for most lead structural engineers. Some of the most common majors for structural engineers are civil engineering, structural engineering and architecture.

Training & Experience: Much of a lead structural engineer’s training will take place while they complete their education. Students will often complete internships to gain practical experience in the field. During an internship, students will work under the supervision of a lead structural engineer to gain experience in the field.

Certifications & Licenses: Lead structural engineers must be licensed to practice their profession. Each state has a different process for becoming licensed, though they typically require proof of a four-year engineering degree and a number of hours of practical experience.

Lead Structural Engineer Skills

Lead structural engineers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Structural engineers use technical skills to understand and interpret complex engineering data. They use technical skills to understand the strengths and weaknesses of different materials and equipment. They also use technical skills to understand the impact of different weather conditions on building structures.

Communication skills: Structural engineers communicate with many people throughout their workday, including other engineers, clients, project managers and other stakeholders. Effective communication skills can help you convey information clearly and answer questions in a way that others can understand. Structural engineers also use communication skills to create and review documents, such as proposals, reports and contracts.

Problem-solving skills: Structural engineers solve problems every day, and problem-solving skills are crucial to success in this profession. You can use your problem-solving skills to find solutions to challenges in the workplace, on the job site and in the field. You can also use your problem-solving skills to help your team members find solutions to their challenges.

Organization skills: Structural engineers often have strong organizational skills, as they often have many tasks to complete in a day. These tasks may include reviewing blueprints, analyzing data, meeting with clients and more. Having strong organizational skills can help you stay on top of your workload and complete all of your tasks in a timely manner.

Leadership skills: As a structural engineer, you can use your leadership skills to motivate and inspire your team. You can also use leadership skills to help your team work together and complete projects on time. Leadership skills can also help you to develop your team’s skills and abilities.

Lead Structural Engineer Work Environment

Lead structural engineers typically work in an office environment, although they may occasionally visit construction sites to observe the progress of a project or to meet with clients. They typically work 40 hours per week, although they may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines. Lead structural engineers typically work on teams of engineers and other professionals, such as architects, to design safe and efficient structures, such as buildings, bridges, and dams. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and drawings of their designs. Lead structural engineers typically have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

Lead Structural Engineer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how lead structural engineers work. Lead structural engineers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Diversity in the Workforce

The structural engineering field is becoming increasingly diverse, as more and more people from different backgrounds are entering the profession. This is due to a number of factors, including the need for more diversity in the workforce and the increasing popularity of structural engineering as a career path.

As the structural engineering field becomes more diverse, Lead Structural Engineers will need to be able to work with a variety of team members and understand the unique challenges that they face. They will also need to be able to communicate effectively with clients from different cultural backgrounds.

More Collaboration Between Design and Construction Teams

The trend of increased collaboration between design and construction teams is happening across all industries. This is because both parties realize that they can benefit from working together to create better projects.

Lead structural engineers can take advantage of this trend by developing strong relationships with those on the design team. This will allow them to collaborate on projects and come up with solutions that are better for everyone involved.

Greater Use of BIM (Building Information Modeling)

The use of BIM is becoming more common in the construction industry, as it allows for greater collaboration between designers and builders. This trend is likely to continue, as BIM becomes even more popular among professionals.

Lead structural engineers can capitalize on this trend by becoming familiar with BIM software and learning how to use it effectively. This will allow them to communicate more effectively with other professionals and produce better results for their clients.

How to Become a Lead Structural Engineer

A lead structural engineer career path can be rewarding and challenging. It’s important to have a strong foundation in engineering principles, as well as experience working on a variety of projects. You should also be able to communicate effectively with clients and other team members.

To advance your career as a lead structural engineer, you may want to consider becoming certified by the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA). This will demonstrate your commitment to continuing education and professional development.

Advancement Prospects

Lead structural engineers typically advance in one of two ways: either they move up within their organization, taking on more responsibility and eventually becoming a partner or they start their own engineering firm. In either case, lead structural engineers need to have a strong understanding of business in order to be successful. In addition, lead structural engineers who are interested in moving up within their organization should focus on developing strong relationships with clients and other engineers.

Lead Structural Engineer Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we design and build some of the world’s most iconic structures. We’re looking for a highly experienced and creative Lead Structural Engineer to join our team. In this role, you will be responsible for the structural design of buildings and other structures, working with a team of engineers to ensure the safety and stability of the finished product. You will also be responsible for overseeing the construction process to ensure that the structure is built according to your specifications. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, as well as several years of experience in the field.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all structural engineering matters on assigned projects
  • Manage and coordinate the work of junior engineers and technicians, as well as outside consultants
  • Prepare feasibility studies, reports, specifications, designs, calculations, and cost estimates for a variety of structures
  • Investigate building sites, analyze data, and develop recommendations to resolve complex engineering problems
  • Oversee the construction phase of projects to ensure compliance with design specifications and safety standards
  • Inspect completed structures to ensure that they are safe and meet all applicable codes and regulations
  • Serve as a technical expert on code committees and other groups concerned with developing or revising building codes
  • Keep abreast of new developments in the field of structural engineering and participate in professional development activities to maintain and improve competence
  • Write articles and give presentations on topics related to structural engineering
  • Maintain relationships with clients, contractors, and other professionals to promote business development opportunities
  • Manage multiple projects simultaneously while adhering to strict deadlines
  • Perform quality control reviews of project deliverables prepared by subordinates

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, structural engineering, or related field
  • 10+ years of experience as a licensed professional engineer (PE)
  • Strong project management skills
  • Proven experience leading a team of engineers
  • Extensive experience with structural analysis software, including RISA-3D, STAAD Pro, and ETABS
  • In-depth knowledge of building codes and standards (IBC, ASCE 7, etc.)
  • Ability to obtain and maintain a security clearance

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in civil engineering, structural engineering, or related field
  • 15+ years of experience as a licensed professional engineer (PE)
  • Registered professional engineer (PE) in multiple states
  • Experience working on federal government projects
  • Experience with BIM software, including Revit Structure and Tekla Structures
  • Familiarity with LEED standards


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