Structural Engineer Job Description
The main role of a structural engineer is to design and construct buildings, bridges and a variety of other structures that are safe, long-lasting and able to withstand the environmental conditions they are exposed to. They need to make sure these buildings are fit for purpose and remain functioning throughout its entire lifetime.
Structural engineers also examine current buildings to test their structural integrity, and are responsible for managing alterations and extensions when required. They’ll often be tasked with designing cost-effective refurbishment plans that keep older buildings in healthy condition and can continue to operate.
They are involved in the entire process of a project from start to finish, and often work closely with architects and civil engineers.
It is their creativity, technical skills and innovative mind-set that enables them to think of sustainable solutions. They are heavily involved in shaping the world we live in, meaning this profession can be a particularly rewarding job.
What Does a Structural Engineer Do?
Structural engineers are absolutely essential to the construction industry – it is these experts who ensure the buildings you go in and out of everyday are safe and fit for purpose – so their value must not be overlooked.
From individual houses and other smaller projects, to large office blocks, hospitals and tunnels, they work on a wide range of buildings. They might also be tasked with working on large repair projects following earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The majority of their time is usually spent in the office, 9 – 5, but they will be required to visit construction sites as well as clients and other professionals every now and again to track the progress of the project, confirm dimensions and so forth. A considerable amount of time is therefore spent travelling to different locations, and it’s also possible that the engineers will work away from home during certain projects.
Although the exact day-to-day responsibilities of a structural engineer will largely depend on the nature of the employer, their specific job role and the type of project they’re currently working on, the objective of these professionals usually remain constant, so they’re main duties can therefore be summarised into the following:
- Create detailed drawings and specifications of new structures for building contractors to follow and understand. This is also likely to require using computer-aided design (CAD software). Specialist knowledge of the forces that are likely to affect the structure will need to be called upon here and taken into consideration in the production of the design.
- Analyse the current condition and health of an existing structure, assessing whether refurbishment is needed and to what extent. They need to be able to understand what might have caused the structure’s condition to deteriorate (environmental conditions, human use or natural disaster etc.) and then advise the most appropriate action(s).
- Consult and work with geotechnical engineers to get a better understanding of ground conditions and the results of soil samples.
- Collaborate with architects and other designers to not only make sure the designs are safe, but also meet their aesthetic expectations.
- Regularly visit live construction sites and communicate with contractors to check you’re on schedule to meet deadlines, and ensure any refurbishments or newly erected buildings are structurally sound.
- Use your knowledge and expertise to meticulously select the appropriate materials and resources for the relevant project.
Structural Engineer Qualifications
The most common route into the profession is by acquiring an Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE)-accredited degree in structural or civil engineering. Graduates can then look to obtain the professional qualifications of Associate Member (AMIStructE) and Chartered Member (MIStructE) with IStructE, which are favoured by employers – they show an individual’s competence and commitment to professional excellence.
It is still possible to pursue this career path if you hold another engineering or science-related degree, but you’re likely to be restricted as to how quick and far you progress.
How to Become a Structural Engineer
Obtaining the appropriate qualifications isn’t the only way you can become a structural engineer – many firms also take on apprentices, which is the ideal route for those who might not want to attend university but would still like to work their way up to higher positions.
Work experience can also be a great method for getting your name into the industry and building a network of contacts, potentially leading to future job opportunities.
Structural Engineer Salary
Graduates can expect a salary somewhere around £26,000, but this will vary depending on the type and size of company you work for (the larger, international corporations sometimes pay higher). After a couple years of experience, it’s possible that this will increase to around £32,000, perhaps even more.
Chartered Members of the Institution of Structural Engineers with plenty of experience usually receive a salary of at least £55,000, but this increases even higher to those in senior level positions.
Structural Engineer Employers & Opportunities
Engineering consultancies, large and small, are the main employers of structural engineers. Smaller firms tend to work in a particular geographical area and specialise in a specific field of the industry, whereas international businesses offer a complete service from the initial design and consultation to the physical building of the structure and regularly present opportunities to work abroad.
Local authorities, railway operators and oil companies are examples of other employers both in the UK and across the globe
Structural Engineer Vacancies Bristol
If you’re a talented structural engineer looking for your next career move, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our recruitment team today. With a vast network of reputable contacts, we specialise in helping skilled engineers across the south west find exciting opportunities.
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