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Structural engineer

Structural engineers help to design and build large structures and buildings, like hospitals, sports stadiums and bridges.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need a degree or postgraduate qualification in structural or civil engineering.

You could also start as an engineering technician by completing an HNC, HND or foundation degree in an engineering subject. You can then become a fully qualified structural engineer with further training on the job.

Studying for an accredited qualification can help your career prospects. You’ll find accredited courses from Joint Board of Moderators (JBM).

The Institution of Structural Engineers and Go Construct have more information about careers in structural engineering.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent skills in maths, IT and science
  • creativity
  • project management skills
  • the ability to manage a budget

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • working with clients, architects, and other engineering professionals
  • developing engineering plans using computer software
  • investigating the properties of building materials like glass, steel and concrete
  • advising on which material is best for the job
  • working out the loads and stresses on different parts of a building 
  • using computer models to predict how structures will react to the weather
  • working out ways to improve energy efficiency
  • inspecting unsafe buildings and deciding whether they should be demolished
  • preparing bids for contract tenders
  • supervising project teams
  • giving progress reports to clients and senior managers
  • working out why and how buildings have collapsed, like after an earthquake

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000 (graduate)

Experienced: £24,000 to £40,000

Highly Experienced: £50,000 (chartered engineer)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work from 35 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday, with a combination of office work and site visits.

You could work on  projects overseas.

6. Career path and progression

You could move into construction design, project management, research and lecturing. 

You could also move into consultancy work, like providing services to building insurers, or work overseas on construction and engineering projects with disaster relief agencies like RedR UK.

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Last updated: 11 April 2017