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Engineering Career Resources


Structural Engineer Job Description

Structural engineers are professionals working in a branch of civil engineering who analyse and design buildings and large structures that can support loads and withstand stresses. More broadly, their work can entail design of any large structure or item, such as machinery or vehicles, that can be affected by issues related to structural integrity.

Structural engineers are guided by safety criteria and their main job is to make sure that their designs comply with given safety or performance criteria. Their job is to design structures that will remain secure and not bend or collapse under pressure or stress. Their work can also include analysing and examining existing structures that may be at risk of collapsing to determine if they are structurally sound, recommending repairs, or rebuilding the structures when necessary.

Structural engineering has a number of subfields, ranging from building engineering and industrial structures to bridges, pipelines, aircraft, space satellites, and ships, and structural engineers frequently specialise in one of them. Most of them, however, work in the construction industry.

Skills

Structural engineers must have an excellent knowledge of materials and their structural performance, and a good understanding of different types of soil if they work in construction. Strong conceptual skills, knowledge of geometry and physical laws are paramount.

When designing structures and working on simulations, engineers typically use computer-aided design (CAD) technology, so anyone looking to enter the field must know how to use computer software to create technical drawings and designs.

Structural engineers must also be good at efficient use of funds. If they are working in a team or overseeing construction work, the ability to explain the laws of physics and properties of certain materials in ways non-experts will understand can come in extremely handy.

Qualifications

Structural engineers usually have a degree in civil or structural engineering. Graduates of other engineering disciplines can enter the field, but their options in terms of career advancement may be limited.

Graduates of structural engineering work toward the status of Associate-Member and Chartered Member with the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE). To get the professional qualification of Associate-Member, engineers must have a degree accredited by IStructE, and for the status of Chartered Member, they need a master's qualification or equivalent, also accredited by IStructE.

Work

The work of structural engineers can entail designing houses, bridges, buildings, and similar structures, and they usually work in teams with architects, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, quantity surveyors, and other professionals from related fields.

Structural engineers with entry-level jobs are usually tasked with designing elements of a larger structure, for instance floors or columns of a house or building, while more experienced engineers and those employed in senior roles are typically in charge of designing entire structures and ensuring that their structral integrity is sound.

The tasks structural engineers perform include selecting the right materials, like concrete, metal, bricks, wood, and others, that meet design specifications, and also planning and meeting budgets and ensuring efficient use of materials. They are usually involved in construction overseeing and inspection, and frequently collaborate with contractors in the process.

Structural engineers also analyse structural components and their configuration to see which stresses and pressures they will withhold in daily use. They test soil samples and investigate ground conditions on sites, and determine which materials are best to use for specific structural elements and structures themselves.