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Structural Engineer

Education and Training: Master’s degree
Average Salary: $74,000
Job Outlook: Very Good

Structural engineering is a branch of civil engineering. As you can probably guess, these engineers focus their careers on structures. They often work alongside architects to help design structures that are safe and fit for the purposes for which they are designed. While architects do plenty of work to ensure that a structure’s design is logical, it’s the structural engineer who works with the architect who helps ensure that the beams and other underlying structural pieces of the building will hold up under the particular stresses that the building or other structure will be under.

Structural engineers are responsible for many lives, and they have an incredibly important job. They often help design buildings that millions of people will walk through, work in, shop in, or live in throughout the years, and their underlying design must hold up to the stresses the building will be under so that all those people will be safe. Structural engineers are rigorously trained and have knowledge of many different physics and math related fields so that they can understand how stresses like load and wind will affect structures they’re helping to design.

Structural engineers can also help un-build structures, either for safe demolition or repair. Either way, they must understand how buildings work and how physical forces act on buildings so they can meet the goals of their clients while keeping people safe.

Education and Training Requirements

A master’s degree is a must-have for a structural engineer, and almost all have at least a master’s in either structural or civil engineering. Training is essential, as well, and engineers must work for several years in a sort of apprenticeship under other, more experienced engineers before taking a test that gives them a license as a Professional Engineer.

Getting the Job

Structural engineers start out at lower levels once they have a master’s degree, and they often work with architectural firms or firms that specialize in engineering and contract out their services. To get a job in this field, structural engineers should compile a work portfolio and apply directly to potential employers.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The job prospects for civil engineers are projected to be excellent in the next few years. While there is not a high turnover rate in these positions, there will be new openings as companies look for more structural engineers to provide their services.

Structural engineers advance in their careers by taking on more difficult projects and by helping manage other engineering teams. Some specialize in a particular area and contract out their services as independent consultants.

Working Conditions and Environment

Structural engineers often work on site and inspect actual building materials, so they are often traveling to actual work sites. Of course, some of their planning work is done in an office environment, so their time is often split between the two environments.

This can be a stressful position for some simply because it comes with huge amounts of responsibility for the safety of others. Since this is a deadline-based job, hours can be long at times, depending on where projects are in the development process.

Salary and Benefits

The average income for a civil engineer in general is about $74,600 per year, though they can make anywhere from $48,00 per year to $115,000 per year. These full time jobs normally come with health benefits, paid time off, sick leave, and personal days.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society of Civil Engineers
1801 Alexander Bell Dr.
Reston, VA 20191
(800) 548-2723

American Society for Engineering Education
1818 N St. NW, Ste. 600
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-3500

National Society of Professional Engineers
1429 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 684-2800

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