Career Development

What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

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

Structural engineers are responsible for the design and construction of buildings, bridges, roads, dams, and other structures. They work to ensure that these structures are safe and stable by designing them in accordance with local building codes and standards.

Structural engineers also play a critical role in the maintenance of existing structures. They may be called upon to inspect or assess older structures to determine if they need any repairs or renovations. This can help prevent serious problems from developing later on down the road.

Structural Engineer Job Duties

Structural engineers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Providing construction drawings and specifications for projects, including designing new structures such as bridges or buildings or planning renovations to existing structures
  • Supervising and managing projects from start to finish, including working with architects and other engineers throughout the design process
  • Reviewing plans submitted by architects or engineers to ensure that they meet code requirements
  • Conducting research in order to develop new designs and materials for use in construction projects
  • Analyzing buildings and other structures to determine their soundness, integrity, and potential for failure
  • Reviewing blueprints, plans, and specifications for buildings or other structures to ensure compliance with local building codes and regulations
  • Examining existing structures to identify defects that could lead to failure
  • Developing designs for new projects using computer modeling software, including AutoCAD or Revit
  • Performing field work, such as surveying construction sites and conducting tests on materials using equipment such as handheld instruments or computerized machinery

Structural Engineer Salary & Outlook

Structural engineers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of structure they are designing. Structural engineers working in private industry typically earn more than those working for government agencies or contractors.

  • Median Annual Salary: $92,500 ($44.47/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $132,000 ($63.46/hour)

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

Structural engineers will be needed to design and evaluate buildings, bridges, and other structures as construction activity increases across the country. In addition, demand for these workers will stem from the need to retrofit existing structures to ensure that they continue to function properly.

Structural Engineer Job Requirements

A structural engineer typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Structural engineers need a bachelor’s degree in structural engineering, civil engineering or a related field. These programs typically include courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering and design.

Training & Experience: Structural engineers receive most of their training through internships and entry-level positions. Students can complete internships in a variety of industries, including construction, manufacturing, design and architecture. Structural engineers can also complete internships in engineering firms to learn more about the industry.

Structural engineers can also gain experience through entry-level positions. Entry-level positions can help engineers learn more about the industry and the specific engineering field. They can also help them develop their communication and leadership skills.

Certifications & Licenses: Certification as a structural engineer qualifies you to practice as a recognized engineering professional, and most states require a state license as well.

Structural Engineer Skills

Structural engineers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Technical skills: Structural engineers use technical skills to understand and interpret data, conduct research and develop solutions to complex problems. Technical skills can help you learn and understand complex information and apply it to your work.

Communication skills: Structural engineers communicate with many people throughout the course of their work. They may need to explain their design to clients, other engineers and construction workers. Effective communication can help ensure everyone understands the engineer’s ideas and intentions.

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 design process, during construction and when something unexpected happens during the project.

Attention to detail: Structural engineers need to have excellent attention to detail to ensure they consider all aspects of a project. This includes ensuring all calculations are correct, all materials are appropriate for the project and that all safety standards are met. Attention to detail is also important for ensuring the project is completed on time and within budget.

Project management: Structural engineers often work on large projects with many other engineers and other professionals. Effective project management skills can help you be a successful engineer, as you may be responsible for overseeing the work of many other people.

Structural Engineer Work Environment

Structural engineers work in a variety of settings, including offices, factories, and construction sites. They may be exposed to noise, dust, and dangerous equipment. They usually work a standard 40-hour week, but they may work longer hours to meet deadlines. Some structural engineers travel to construction sites to oversee the installation of their designs.

Structural Engineer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how structural engineers work. 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 facing a major diversity problem. According to the National Society of Structural Engineers, only about 10% of structural engineers are women, and even fewer are minorities.

This trend is having a negative impact on the industry as a whole, as it makes structural engineers less representative of the communities they serve. In order to address this issue, structural engineers will need to work harder to promote diversity within their firms. They can do this by creating more opportunities for underrepresented groups to join the team and by making sure that everyone feels welcome and comfortable in the workplace.

More Collaboration Between Different Disciplines

As structural engineering becomes more complex, there is an increasing need for collaboration between different disciplines. This is because many projects now require expertise from multiple areas in order to be successful.

Structural engineers can capitalize on this trend by developing strong relationships with other professionals in their field. This will allow them to work together on projects and share ideas and information. In addition, structural engineers can also focus on becoming experts in specific areas, such as earthquake engineering or wind engineering, which will make them even more valuable to potential employers.

Greater Use of BIM (Building Information Modeling)

The use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is becoming increasingly popular among structural engineers. BIM allows for greater collaboration between designers and builders, which results in better-quality buildings.

As BIM becomes more common, structural engineers will need to learn how to use this technology in order to stay competitive. This includes learning how to create models using BIM software and understanding the benefits of using BIM in the design process.

How to Become a Structural Engineer

A structural engineer career path can be very rewarding. It offers the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, from small residential buildings to large commercial structures. You’ll also have the chance to work on a range of different materials, including steel, concrete, and wood.

To become a structural engineer, you’ll need a degree in engineering and experience working on projects as a design engineer or assistant engineer. You can gain this experience by volunteering or interning with a local engineering firm, or by taking on freelance assignments.

Advancement Prospects

Structural engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, although some jobs may require a master’s degree or higher.

Most structural engineers have a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Structural engineers who work in private industry may advance to become project managers. Those who work for government agencies may advance to supervisory or managerial positions. Some structural engineers may become independent consultants.

Structural engineers with a master’s degree or doctorate may teach at a university or conduct research.

Structural Engineer Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are constantly innovating to push the boundaries of what is possible. We are looking for a highly skilled and experienced structural engineer to join our team and help us realize our vision. As a member of our engineering team, you will be responsible for the design, analysis, and construction of various structures. You will also be required to collaborate with other engineers, architects, and construction managers to ensure the successful execution of projects. Your ultimate goal will be to create safe, efficient, and cost-effective structures that meet or exceed our clients’ expectations.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact with clients, project managers, and other engineers throughout the duration of a project
  • Attend project meetings to provide input on structural engineering issues and concerns
  • Develop structural designs that are safe, efficient, and economical while meeting all applicable codes and regulations
  • Prepare construction documents including drawings and specifications
  • Perform calculations to determine loads, stresses, and strengths of various materials and structures
  • Select appropriate construction materials based on factors such as cost, weight, strength, appearance, and environmental impact
  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create models and drawings of structures
  • Inspect completed structures to ensure they meet all safety requirements and specifications
  • Investigate the cause of failures in existing structures and recommend solutions
  • Serve as an expert witness in court cases involving structural failure or damage
  • Stay up-to-date on advances in engineering technology and practices
  • Mentor junior engineers and technicians

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, architecture, or related field
  • 5+ years experience in structural engineering
  • Proficient in AutoCAD, Revit, ETABS, SAP2000, SAFE, and/or similar software
  • Thorough understanding of building codes and standards
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in civil engineering, architecture, or related field
  • 7+ years experience in structural engineering
  • PE license
  • Experience with LEED certification process
  • Familiarity with BIM (Building Information Modeling)

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