Structural Engineer

What is a Structural Engineer?

A Structural Engineer is a highly skilled professional who specializes in designing and ensuring the safety and stability of structures such as buildings, bridges, tunnels, and other architectural projects. Their primary role is to create and assess the structural components of these constructions to ensure they can withstand various forces and environmental conditions, such as wind, gravity, earthquakes, and more.

Structural Engineers work closely with architects, builders, and construction teams to translate architectural plans into safe and structurally sound realities. They calculate loads, stresses, and forces that act on structures, analyze potential structural issues, and use advanced software and digital modeling to test how a building or bridge will perform under different circumstances. Additionally, they investigate soil conditions, visit construction sites, and may be involved in projects that require the demolition or repair of existing structures.

What Does a Structural Engineer Do?

Structural Engineers are the masterminds behind the design and construction of structures that can withstand immense pressure and challenges. Here’s a closer look at their role:

Designing Resilient Structures

  • Structural Engineers collaborate with architects on various projects, ranging from bridges and tunnels to residential houses, offices, and sports stadiums.
  • Their primary responsibility is to calculate the loads and stresses that a structure will experience and ensure it can endure factors like wind, gravity, and earthquakes.
  • They use digital models to test how structures will react under different conditions.
  • Investigating soil conditions, visiting construction sites, and managing projects involving demolition or repair of structures are also part of their job.

How to Become a Structural Engineer

If you’re considering a career as a Structural Engineer, here’s a breakdown of the path to follow:

Entry Requirements

  • Most Structural Engineers start by earning an accredited degree and/or postgraduate qualification in structural or civil engineering.
  • While some individuals with degrees in other engineering fields or highly numerate science degrees may enter the profession, their career progression might be slower and limited.
  • To gain admission to an engineering degree program, you’ll typically need 2 A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/National 5s, including Maths and, in some cases, Physics.
  • Some universities may specifically request Physics as a requirement.


  • If you’ve completed an HNC/HND or a Foundation degree in Engineering, you can still enter the field but typically at a technician level (TIStructE).
  • You can work your way up to engineer status through on-the-job training and further qualifications.
  • The Initial Professional Development (IPD) scheme outlines the skills you need to demonstrate your engineering abilities and work toward becoming an Incorporated Structural Engineer (AMIStructE) or Chartered Structural Engineer (MIStructE).
  • This process usually takes 3 to 4 years and includes an exam and interview known as the Professional Review Interview (PRI).
  • Graduate structural engineers are encouraged to pursue membership with professional bodies like the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) and the Engineering Council to enhance employability, salary potential, and progression into senior roles.
  • You may also choose to pursue a master’s degree before entering the workforce to fast-track your path to chartered status. Alternatively, some employers offer sponsorship for studying while you work, often through a graduate training scheme.

Structural Engineer Salary

Now, let’s discuss the financial aspect of being a Structural Engineer:

  • Graduate trainees typically start with a salary of around £22,000.
  • As you gain experience in the field, your earnings can range from £24,000 to £40,000.
  • Senior employees with chartered status may earn up to £50,000 or more.

Career Prospects and Progression

Wondering what the future holds for a Structural Engineer? Let’s explore:

  • The Construction Skills Network reports a continuing skills gap in specialized trades within the construction industry.
  • Infrastructure projects are expected to drive significant growth in the sector, with plans to invest more than £100 billion as part of the government’s National Infrastructure Delivery Plan.
  • Many employers offer training schemes for new structural engineers, allowing you to work toward professional status.
  • You can work in engineering consultancies, construction companies, and later specialize in specific areas, such as concrete buildings or refurbishment.
  • With chartered status, you might consider becoming self-employed, delve into research or lecturing, or explore contract work abroad.
  • Achieving the status of Fellow of the IStructE is a recognition of excellence in structural engineering and a prestigious milestone in your career.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Considering a career as a Structural Engineer? Here are some pros and cons to consider:


  • You should be prepared to work in all weather conditions, and travel within a working day is common. You may even have opportunities to work away from home.
  • This is an essential job with a high level of responsibility, and your skills and expertise will be highly valued.


  • The physical demands of the job can be challenging for some individuals.

Related Opportunities

If structural engineering intrigues you but you’re exploring other options within the construction and design field, consider these related opportunities:

  • Architect: Architects are responsible for designing buildings and overseeing their construction.
  • Quantity Surveyor: Quantity surveyors manage project finances and costs within the construction industry.
  • Surveying Technician: Surveying technicians assist in collecting and analyzing data related to construction projects.

Further Information

For additional resources and information about structural engineering, you can visit the following websites:

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