Structural engineers ensure structures can withstand the stresses and pressures imposed by use and the environment. They calculate stability, strength and rigidity and make sure the right materials are used for each project, whether it is a new-build, conversion or renovation.
As a structural engineer, you could work on residential projects, shops and offices, bridges and offshore rigs, theatres, museums and hospitals, or even space satellites.
Typical hours per week
40 - 42
How to become a structural engineer
There are several routes to becoming a structural engineer. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a university or college course, or an apprenticeship.
If you already have relevant experience you may be able to apply directly to an employer or train on the job. You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you.
You may need a (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.
You can complete an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in civil, structural or architectural engineering. For this you’ll need :
Afterwards, you could apply for a place on a graduate trainee scheme with a construction firm or engineering company.
College / training provider
You may have to attend a specialist college or training provider in order to study as a structural engineer.
You could complete a Level 5 Higher National Diploma in civil engineering. Afterwards, you may be able to work as an assistant or trainee engineer and do further training on the job to qualify fully.
You’ll generally need 1 or 2 A levels (or equivalent) for a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND).
An apprenticeship with a construction firm is a good way into the industry. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16.
As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.
You could complete a civil engineer degree apprenticeship and then undertake further professional training to qualify as a structural engineer.
You’ll generally need 4 or 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels (or equivalent) to do a degree apprenticeship.
If you have relevant skills or experience, you could find work as a civil or construction engineering technician and study part-time for a degree to qualify.
Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in construction.
Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.
Additional skills which may benefit anyone looking to become a structural engineer include :
What does a structural engineer do?
As a structural engineer you will be responsible for accurately working out the structural integrity of a proposed construction and ensuring it meets regulations such as health and safety.
The job role of a structural engineer involves the following duties :
What's it like to be a structural engineer?
How much could you earn as a structural engineer?
The expected salary for a structural engineer varies as you become more experienced
Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. Salaries and career options also improve with chartered status.