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How to Become a Structural Engineer

by
Matthew Williams

A career in structural engineering promises work that is skilled, challenging, and extremely satisfying. Structural engineers are responsible for overseeing that buildings, bridges, and other structures are designed and built safely.

Structural engineers take an idea in the form of a blueprint and turn it into reality, overseeing construction projects from start to finish. Whether it's a skyscraper, hospital, house, or stadium, structural engineers make a lasting mark on the world with the product of their work both useful and impactful.

What does a structural engineer do?

Structural engineers are responsible for ensuring structures are able to withstand the stress and strain of materials, the environment, and every day use. Using mathematics, physics, and material science, they calculate the rigidity, tolerances, and strength of building components to make guarantee structural integrity.

It's an important job with a lot of responsibility. Some structural engineers are employed by construction firms, utility companies, and authorities to monitor projects construction. This can involve both office work and being on-site, overseeing the construction of a structure and ensuring everything is built correctly.

Daily tasks involve:
  • Looking over designs, plans, and making reports
  • Performing integrity calculations
  • Giving expert advice on structural integrity
  • Dealing with building regulators
  • Analyse ground conditions and work with geo-technicians
  • Inspecting existing properties for issues
  • Regular conversations with architects and designers
  • Researching and selecting appropriate construction materials
  • Monitoring contraction work

As a structural engineer, you can expect to work standard 8-9 hour days with some projects requiring overtime and stopovers.

Necessary skills

To become a structural engineer, you will need the following skills:

  • Creative thinking
  • Mathematical skills
  • Building and construction knowledge
  • Ability to communicate clearly
  • Critical thinking and an eye for detail
  • Financial budgeting
  • IT skills
Training to become a structural engineer

You can become a structural engineer by gaining a degree in structural or civil engineering. This degree must be backed by the institute of Structural Engineers n order to be formally recognised almost all university courses are accredited.

There are typically two routes available:

Bachelor Engineering degree (BEng): these degrees can be taken if you hold3 or more good A-level grades, typically with an A in mathematics, or equivalent. This is a 3 year programme and pon graduation you can become a qualified Incorporated Engineer. These professionals are responsible for maintaining, and managing existing technology and designs.

Masters Engineering degree (MEng): this route of study gives undergraduates the same training as a BEng but with an extra year (or two) of study to gain a Masters degree. Upon graduation from this course, you can apply for Chartered Engineer status which is more in demand by employers.

Both courses involve explaining a broad overview of engineering fundamentals followed by specialist pathways in the second year onwards. Most universities have well-funded, cutting edge engineering schools with connections to the industry. This can help gain work experience that will help boost employment prospects following graduation.

How much do structural engineers get paid?

Structural engineer salaries for new graduates begin at £28,000. 

After a few years of experience, you can expect to earn upwards of £40,000 providing you have a Masters degree and are a Chartered Engineer.

Throughout the whole of the UK, the average wage for a structural engineer sits at £46,000. Unlike a lot of other careers, a structural engineer can expect to earn more outside of London, especially in Birmingham and Manchester where more construction projects are carried out.

As the construction industry is highly competitive and always in need of structural engineers, salaries can easily exceed these figures. Specialised roles for industries such as airlines can offer good benefits as well as higher pay.

Career opportunities

Structural engineers have a lot of room to maneuver career-wise. Some structural engineers will choose to specialise in a specific field, such as green, sustainable construction, for instance. Specializing in this way can lead to new areas of study, keeping the job interesting, as well as commanding a higher salary.

The career can also lead to teaching, consultancy, and lecturing roles.

Conclusion

With the construction industry booming, structural engineers are in demand and will be for the foreseeable future. Not only is the career vital to ensuring buildings are safe, sustainable, and usable, but also brings immense satisfaction by giving you the chance to part in significant projects.

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