Structural engineers are creative individuals who use science and math to design and devise structures and solve their problems. Structural engineers are professionals who design different structures which withstand pressure and stress imposed by natural and human works. They are responsible for ensuring that the buildings and structures do not collapse, deflect or vibrate and stay stable and safe. Structural engineers also examine and assess existing structures and check if they are in good condition and safe for use.
To be a structural engineer you need to have proven proficiency in math, science and physics. If you have deep interest in structure and design of the building, have many creative ideas popping, then structural engineering will be ideal career choice for you.
Basic roles, duties & responsibilities of structural engineers
So, what does a structural engineer do? Here we have listed out basic roles, duties or responsibilities performed by structural engineers:
- Analyze configurations of structural components of buildings
- Calculate and assess the strain, stress and pressure for each component or structure
- Assess the strength of different materials such as timber, steel and concrete
- Examine structures with potential risks and advise on how to manage them
- Work in collaboration with architectures, civil engineers, and designers
- Prepare drawings, computer models and specifications of structures for buildings
- Work closely with geotechnical engineers to investigate on soil samples
- Make use of expert knowledge for building of various structures
- Prepare and manage bids for contract tenders
- Supervise different project teams
- Provide project reports to senior managers and clients
A structural engineer may have to work away from home often for long periods to time. They also have to go site visits often. As a structural engineer, you will normally work regular office hours, but may have to work extra hours near deadlines of projects. You will approximately work 40 hours in a week, mostly from Monday to Friday.
As a structural engineer you will have to make necessary arrangements as per the nature and requirements of the site. You will also be required to wear protective gears such as helmets, safety boots, raincoats and etc.
Employers of structural engineers
- Aircraft manufacturing companies
- Oil and gas companies
- Government and public organizations
- Water and electricity companies
- Local authorities
- Railways and roadways agencies
- Civil engineering contractors
Self employment by setting up a private consultancy firm is promising for those who have garnered years of experience and integrity in the industry.
Qualification and training
Aspiring candidates first have to gain a four years bachelor’s degree in structural engineering or a similar course where you will learn courses such as math, fluid dynamics, statistics and engineering mechanics.
A degree in following subjects increases your chances:
- Structural engineering
- Civil engineering
- Construction engineering
- Construction science
Structural engineering courses are a blend of classroom learning, field work and researches in laboratory. You can also land internship placement programs where you will learn many important practical skills and prepare for your entry in the field. If you are looking to grab yourself a managerial position, you will need a master’s degree, a license and fair amount of on-job experience.
Required skills or job specifications for structural engineers
To be a successful structural engineer, you need to have aptitude for creativity, originality and commercial awareness. Here are some other skills one must develop to be an efficient structural engineer:
- Excellent math and technical skills
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
- Technical competency
- Creativity and originality
- Problem solving approach
- Strong knowledge of related legislation
- Ability to work under pressure and within given budget
- A good eye for detail
- Good leading capacity