Structural Engineer

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Energy & Utilities

What you will do:

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • working with clients, architects, and other engineering professionals (teamwork skills)
  • 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


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of building and construction
  • design skills and knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a structural engineer, you should pursue a strong educational foundation and then advance to higher education and professional qualifications. While there are no specific subjects required to become a structural engineer, certain subjects can be beneficial for preparing you for a future in this field. Here’s a list of subjects that can be advantageous:

  1. Mathematics: A strong foundation in mathematics is essential for structural engineering. It’s beneficial to take mathematics and pursue advanced mathematics courses if available.
  2. Physics: Physics coursework can help you understand the principles of mechanics, which are fundamental to structural engineering.
  3. Chemistry: While not directly related to structural engineering, a background in chemistry can be useful in understanding materials and their properties.
  4. Design and Technology: Courses in design and technology can help you develop problem-solving skills and an understanding of engineering principles.
  5. Information Technology (IT): Proficiency in using computer software and technology can be valuable for structural analysis and design software.
  6. English: Good communication skills, including writing and speaking, are important for documenting your work and communicating with clients and team members.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

You can do a degree or postgraduate course in:

  • structural engineering
  • architectural engineering
  • civil and structural engineering

Courses that include the opportunity to gain work experience through internships and year in industry placements may give you an advantage. Your university careers service can advise on how to find relevant work experience.

You can find out about courses accredited by professional engineering institutions in your country. In the UK, for example, contact the Engineering Council.

You can take a Higher National Diploma in Construction (Level 5 in the UK) and the Built Environment (Civil Engineering) at college. This may help you to find work as a trainee engineer. You’ll need to do more training on the job to qualify.

You could complete a civil engineer degree apprenticeship and take professional training afterwards to qualify in structural engineering.

You could start as a civil or construction engineering technician and study for a degree qualification while you’re working.

Working Hours 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.

Career Path & 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.